CIGARETTE smokers are to be handed free vaping vouchers in a bid to kick their habit.
The scheme run by UK charity Quit4 Life hopes the £25 coupons, which smokers can exchange for vaping kits, will help more people make the move away from tobacco.
In collaboration with the government’s National Health Service, the stop smoking scheme currently being rolled out across Hampshire comes just a week after independent body Public Health England (PHE) said there was “compelling evidence” for e-cigarettes to be made available on prescription.
In a report, PHE estimated the electronic alternatives could be helping at least 20,000 people give up smoking each year and suggested hospitals sell e-cigarettes in their shops and swap smoking shelters for vaping lounges.
Julia Robson, clinical service manager of Quit4Life said of the new voucher scheme: “Quit4Life is excited to be supporting Public Health England in their message to embrace quitting smoking through the use of electronic cigarettes.
“As shown in the Smokefree and Stoptober messages, e-cigarettes can be extremely effective as a means to giving up smoking, especially when combined with additional support from a stop smoking service, when you can increase your chances of a successful quit.
“Quit4Life aims to support as many people as possible who would like to improve both their health and wealth by quitting smoking, either with a vape or more traditional medication.”
Professor John Newton, director for health improvement at PHE, said following its report earlier this month: “Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone.
“Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.
“It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”