The figures also indicated that only 1.8% of smokers using the NHS service successfully quit after four weeks in 2019/20. This represents a 51% decrease from 13/14. Despite this, the percentage of smokers in England continues to drop, and currently sits at an all-time low of 13.9%, while the number of ex-smokers who now vape has risen from 11.7% to 12.3%.
The PHE data comes at the heels of a study warning quitting smokers to not underestimate the likelihood of relapsing during this festive season, with alcohol being the third-most common factor in inducing cravings to smoke. Conducted by UK online vape retailer Vape Club, the study summarized the main causes of cravings as follows:
|From your experience, when do you most get cigarette cravings? (Select up to three)||%|
|When drinking alcohol – out with friends/family||138||24.8%|
|While out with active smokers||107||19.2%|
|I do not get cigarette cravings||87||15.6%|
|When drinking alcohol – at home||80||14.4%|
|When suffering workplace burnout||47||8.4%|
|When experiencing an episode of poor mental health||42||7.5%|
Guidance for vape manufacturers
Meanwhile, in what is the latest example of the UK being a leader in the field of tobacco harm reduction, the NHS has just released a guidance on steps manufacturers must follow to submit products for approval as cessation tools.
Published in October by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the guidance states that any approved vaping products, will be made available for doctors to prescribe. “This country continues to be a global leader on healthcare, whether it’s our Covid-19 vaccine rollout or our innovative public health measures reducing people’s risk of serious illness,” said Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
“Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people to stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background,” added Javid, who has in recent weeks been criticized for suggesting a smoking ban outside pubs and restaurants.