Over half a billion British pounds. This is how much the health service would save annually if half of all smokers in the UK switched to e-cigarettes. This is according to a new economic study by Brunel University London.
The UK researchers used official data on the number of smokers in different regions and calculated the costs of five diseases with clear links to smoking. Currently, between 12 and 15 per cent of the adult population smoke, depending on the region. In addition to deaths, the focus was on the costs of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The researchers calculated the health expenditure for each disease in relation to the cost of a hospital bed per day in the UK.
"These diseases are a huge burden on the health service, which is already under great pressure," Professor Francesco Moscone, Brunel University London, told the Independent.
Currently, the cost of smoking is estimated to cost the health service nearly £2 billion. According to the study, halving smoking, i.e. even if smokers switch from smoking to vaping, would reduce hospital costs by 13 per cent. In real terms, this amounts to more than GBP 500 million annually (equivalent to almost SEK 7 billion).
"Smokers expose themselves to fewer risks, almost 90 per cent fewer toxic chemicals, if they switch to e-cigarettes," notes Francesco Moscone.
Unknown risks likely to be less
The long-term effects of taping are not fully understood, researchers say. But according to British authorities for an individual, switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes can significantly reduce the risk of future diseases. The researchers say that the study clearly shows that this would have an impact on healthcare as well.
"Encouraging the switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes could be crucial in reducing the costs of smoking", Francesco Moscone told The Independent.
Programme for e-cigarettes
Studien publicerades i British Journal of Healthcare Management och enligt forskarna bakom studien är det viktigt att den brittiska regeringen fullföljer sitt program för att få ner rökningen till under fem procent 2030. En av åtgärderna som lanserades under våren var att erbjuda en miljon rökare möjligheten att testa e-cigaretter gratis via ett så kallat ”Swap-to-stop” program.