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Quitting smoking through vaping

Smokefree NHS
Jun 2023

This webinar explores how e-cigarettes are being used by services to support smokers to quit. It includes an update from OHID on the new vape procurement platform, followed by case studies from NHS and local authority services which are utilising e-cigarettes to increase smoking cessation among staff and service users.

Speakers and slides

Opening remarks
Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive, ASH
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Introduction of an approved supply chain for vaping products
Allan Gregory, Tobacco Control Programme Manager, OHID
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North East & North Cumbria ICB staff vaping offer
Caitlin Barry, Project Manager for NENC NHS Staff Tobacco Dependency Offer, Gateshead Health NHS FT
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The role of nicotine vapes in treating tobacco dependency in the NHS in Greater Manchester

Dr Matt Evison, Clinical lead for the CURE project for Greater Manchester, Manchester University NHS FT
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North Northamptonshire stop smoking service vaping offer

Richard Holley, North & West Area Manager and Tobacco Control Lead, Stop Smoking Services, North Northamptonshire Council
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We have prepared a list of FAQs that arose from the event which you can see below. You can look through these to see responses and links to relevant information.

Popcorn lung

One common myth is that vaping causes ‘popcorn lung’. This myth came about because some flavourings, often used to provide a buttery flavour, contain a chemical called diacetyl which when consumed at high doses can cause lung damage.

This chemical is banned in e-cigarettes and their liquid in the UK. Although trace amounts have been found in e-liquid in the past, it has been in levels far smaller than in cigarette smoke.

Oral health

There are also concerns that vaping can lead to poor oral health. If an individual is using vaping as a means to quit or cut down on their smoking (as is the case with the majority of those using e-cigarettes), then vaping is far less harmful to their oral health than smoking. Any risk from switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes is likely to be a fraction of the risk posed by continuing to smoke.

Gateway effect

There is no evidence to suggest that vaping will lead to children taking up smoking. Although the number of children that have tried vaping has increased, regular use has not grown significantly and tends to be among those that already smoke. There has been a continuous decline in smoking rates among children despite there being a rise in children who vape. You can see these figures here.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine so must be harmful

Whilst nicotine is an addictive substance, it is not the exposure to nicotine that causes harm to smokers. Rather, it is the cocktail of other chemicals present in cigarettes that poses significant risks to smokers. E-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum allow smokers to get nicotine without having to inhale tobacco smoke. A review of the evidence commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities found that vaping poses a fraction of the risk that smoking does.

E-cigarettes don’t help you quit smoking

A recent Cochrane review found that e-cigarettes are a more effective smoking cessation aid than traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as patches or gum. This is particularly the case when paired with behavioural support.

E-cigarette or vaping use associated lung injury (EVALI)

There were a number of hospitalisations and deaths in the US that were originally reported to be caused by e-cigarette use. However, a 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated the cause of the outbreak was limited to THC vapes containing vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate is a banned ingredient in UK regulated nicotine-containing vape liquid. There is no evidence to suggest using regulated vapes and vape liquid causes lung injury.