Study: E-cigs open the door to huge savings in healthcare

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.

Lower costs

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

The study was published in the British Journal of Healthcare Management and, according to the researchers behind the study, it is important that the UK government follows through on its programme to reduce smoking to below five per cent by 2030. One of the measures launched in the spring was to offer one million smokers the opportunity to test e-cigarettes for free via a so-called "Swap-to-stop programme.

Sources for this article:

Switching to vapes 'could save NHS more than half a billion a year', study says

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