Researchers: "Counselling and e-cigs very effective in quitting smoking"

Hundreds of smokers visiting emergency departments in England were offered free e-cigarettes for a period of time. At the same time, they were counselled to stop smoking. After six months, researchers from the University of East Anglia evaluated the subjects' smoking behaviour.
"The trial showed that a similar national intervention could lead to an additional 22,000 Britons quitting smoking each year," notes Dr Ian Pope of UEA Norwich Medical School.

During emergency department visits, 484 patients, all daily smokers, were offered a starter kit with e-cigarettes and a referral to visit a smoking cessation counsellor. A second group of 488 smoking patients instead received written information on how to access smoking cessation services, but were not referred directly and did not receive a vejp kit.

The study found that those referred to the services and offered a vejp kit quit smoking at a significantly higher rate than the other group. There were almost twice as many successful attempts, with 23 per cent quitting smoking after six months, compared to 13 per cent in the non-vejp group, according to the results recently published via University of East Anglia.

Reaching smokers in vulnerable groups

According to the researchers, in the future, emergency departments should look at the possibilities of similar interventions.

"It has proved to be a successful method of reaching groups of the population who may not routinely engage with smoking cessation services, but who have the most to gain from quitting smoking." the researchers told the BBC.

"Could save thousands of lives"

According to the doctor Ian Pope this type of intervention can play a major role in reducing smoking in the UK. Currently, nearly 15 per cent of the population smokes, but significantly more (nearly 25 per cent) in rural areas. socio-economically vulnerable groups and people with some form of mental illness. This is a declining proportion, but also a trend that can be accelerated, according to the researchers behind the study.

 "Switching to e-cigarettes could save thousands of lives. We believe that if this intervention was widely adopted, it could lead to over 22,000 additional people quitting smoking each year. And when a smoker visits an emergency department, it could open up a valuable opportunity for people to get support to quit smoking. It is likely to improve their chances of recovery from whatever brought them to the hospital, but also prevent future illnesses." says Dr Ian Pope told the BBC.

Showing that vejpning is effective

Caitlin Notley, Professor of Addiction Sciences empty University of East Anglia, who acted as co-investigator for the study, notes that vapes, e-cigarettes, proved to be a good alternative that can help people quit smoking. 

"We know that vejping is significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco, and that e-cigarettes have been shown to help smokers quit," she told the BBC. "About half of all smokers will die prematurely and smokers lose an average of 10 years of life. For every death caused by smoking, about 30 more suffer from a smoking-related disease." says Caitlin Notley.

Reducing smoking - and healthcare costs

The study, which was funded by government National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), was recently published in Emergency Medicine Journal. The findings may have implications for future interventions and are supported by anti-smoking organisations in the UK.

"Smoking costs the health service and taxpayers billions each year in completely avoidable health and social care costs. Encouraging more people to stop smoking tobacco will support them to live healthier lives." said Hazel Cheeseman, chief executive of the public health organisation. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). "This kind of low-cost support, offered in conjunction with other care, is exactly what we need to rapidly reduce smoking, especially among smokers in vulnerable groups," she told the BBC.

Sources for this article:

Link to the study, published in the Emerency Medicine Journal.
Cessation of smoking trial in the emergency department (CoSTED): protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial

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