Government announces who will be given vapes first as one million people to be given one in England
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The UK Government has announced who will be the first people to receive free vapes in a bid to get people to stop smoking.
The new scheme, which has been dubbed ‘swap to stop’, will see up to one million electronic cigarettes handed out in England in the hopes it will cut down the number of smokers.
The new plans are all part of the government’s target to make the country smoke-free by 2030.
Announcing the scheme, Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “This scheme represents an exciting opportunity to capitalise on the potential of vaping as a tool to help smokers quit.
“The latest international research shows that smokers who use a vape every day are three times more likely to quit smoking, interestingly, even if they didn’t actually intend to quit smoking.”
O’Brien has also now revealed where the first vapes will be given out and who to, explaining that they will be given to smokers in the ‘most at-risk communities’ to begin with before rolling out more widely.
He said: “We will target the most at-risk communities first - focusing on settings such as job centres, homeless centres, and social housing providers. And we want to work with retailers on this journey too.”
“Among the first of these exciting projects will be in the North East. I have already been working with local councils in Northumberland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Hartlepool to start a joined-up delivery of a ‘swap to stop’ scheme in their most deprived neighbourhoods.”
O’Brien went on to share the one ‘condition’ smokers must meet in order to take part in the initiative.
“Smokers who join this scheme which will run initially over the next two years must join on one condition – they commit to quit smoking with support,” he said.
“For our part we will make it as easy as possible, referring people to stop smoking services and developing a digital approach to help people quit smoking. Once that is done, we will offer support to those who want to go on to quit vaping too.”
Alongside this, O’Brien announced the launch of a ‘Call for Evidence’ to identify opportunities to stop children vaping and reduce numbers of underage users.
He said in a statement: “Smoking kills, so our priority is to prevent people smoking, and support them to quit. We remain committed to our ambition to be smoke-free by 2030.
“However, while vaping is a preferable alternative to smoking for adults, we are concerned about the rise in youth vaping, particularly the increasing use of disposable vaping products.
“The new illicit vapes enforcement squad will work across the country and clamp down on those businesses who sell vapes to children – which is illegal – and get them hooked on nicotine.
"Our Call for Evidence will also allow us to get a firm understanding of the steps we can take to reduce the number of children accessing and using vapes.”