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Britain Encourages Smokers to Start Vaping

Swap cigarettes for vapes
The UK government initiated a “swap to stop” policy for smokers to swap cigarettes for vapes. Credit: Vaping360 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The UK government is launching a new initiative called “swap to stop” to encourage up to one million smokers to switch to vaping instead of continuing to smoke cigarettes. This program will offer vape starter kits to nearly one in five smokers in England as part of the government’s effort to make England smoke-free.

Pregnant women who stop smoking will also be offered up to £400 ($ 496). A new consultation is set to begin on adding mandatory advice on quitting smoking to cigarette packs.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is attempting to balance the need to reduce underage vaping with ensuring adult smokers have access to vaping products to quit smoking.

Britain’s ‘Swap to Stop’ Policy

The Health Minister, Neil O’Brien, gave a speech on Tuesday announcing a new policy regarding vaping. The policy, called “swap to stop,” allows individuals to receive a free vape kit in exchange for their cigarette pack. O’Brien stated that this policy is the first of its kind in the world.

O’Brien went on to explain the dangers of smoking, stating that up to two-thirds of lifelong smokers will die from smoking-related illnesses. He also noted that cigarettes are the only legal product that, when used correctly, can result in death.

Regarding the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes, O’Brien stated that it would remain at 18 years old. Instead of imposing bans, the government will focus on helping people quit smoking.

Dr. Javed Khan led a major review last year, which recommended increasing the minimum age for tobacco sales by one year each year until no one can buy tobacco products in the country. MPs from the all-party parliamentary group on smoking and health have also recommended raising the age of sale to 21.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that it will provide further information about how the free vape policy will operate at a later time.

The policy will be implemented in stages, beginning with local authorities that will participate in the first phase before expanding to a national level over the next two years.

Estimated £45m ($55.8m) to be funded by Health Department

The free vape policy is estimated to cost £45 million ($55.8 million), and funding will come from the health department’s budget. However, local authorities will administer the policy.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the Action on Smoking and Health campaign, welcomed the policy announcements as steps in the right direction. Nevertheless, she cautioned that these moves are not enough as England’s target date for becoming “smoke-free” by 2030 approaches.

Sarah MacFadyen, from the charity Asthma and Lung UK, pointed out that addressing addiction is more complex than simply swapping cigarettes for vapes. She emphasized that smokers need personalized support from stop-smoking services.

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