Vaping is a strategy to reduce smoking in Northampton
Northamptonshire authorities are offering free e-cigarettes to smokers who want to try vejpning. The hope is that smokers, especially pregnant women, will switch from cigarettes to a less harmful alternative.
”We know that smoking is a habit that kills one in two users. E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free, but they are much less harmful than cigarettes. And the consequences of continuing to smoke surpass even the worst possible risks that vejping can pose. " says Ian Morris member of the local Health Board to the newspaper Northampton Chronicle.
The authorities will also carry out outreach activities as part of the project. Workplaces with widespread smoking among employees will receive free assistance from health organisations to encourage smokers to change their habits. The offer of a free e-cigarette will be followed up by smokers agreeing to participate in a 12-week smoking cessation programme.
Ian Morris cites improved public health as the main reason why the project became a reality. But there are also economic aspects.
”We have seen a reduction in the number of smokers over the last 20 years. But we still have 87 000 smokers in Northamptinshire. With hundreds of deaths annually, it costs the community £160 million (equivalent to £1.8 billion) a year," he told the Northampton Chronicle.
Targeting pregnant smokers
A key target group for the campaign is pregnant smokers. Northamptonshire has a higher proportion of pregnant smokers, compared to the rest of the UK, notes Ian Morris.
Smoking during pregnancy harms the foetus and increases the risk of complications even after birth, as evidenced by a significantly lower birth weight. Stopping the use of nicotine is preferable, but according to several studies the risks are significantly reduced even if the smoker switches to e-cigarettes. Newborn babies of vejpers have been shown to have the same birth weight as babies of non-smokers.
Hope they stop smoking for good
Now the authorities in Northampton hope that pregnant smokers will also take the plunge and quit smoking, using the methods offered by the Stop Smoking Services. Free e-cigarettes are just one of several ways, says Mr Morris.
"Public Health Northamptonshire encourages all smokers to utilise our Stop Smoking Service. With advice and support, we hope they will choose to quit for good. Using e-cigarettes, if that method suits them best." says Ian Morris to the Northampton Chronicle.