Switching smokers to vapes ‘could save NHS half a billion a year’


Swapping cigarettes for vapes could save the NHS ‘more than half a billion a year’, according to a new study. 

The new research suggests that half of adult smokers in England making a switch to e-cigarettes could save the NHS more than £500 million per year.

The new research – carried out at Brunel University London – also suggests it could cut back smoking-related hospital admissions by 13%.

Researchers used data from NHS Digital, the Royal College of Physicians and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to identify the prevalence of smoking in each region.

Money saving

Between 2019 and 2021, they found that 13.6% of people aged 18 and above smoked.

The lowest rate of smokers is in the south east (12.2%) compared to 14.1% in the midlands, 14.6% in the north west and 15% in the north east and Yorkshire.

The study suggests that if 50% of those people were to switch to e-cigarettes, hospital admissions would reduce by 13% – equating to £518 million.

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Increasing pressure

Professor Francesco Moscone, a business economics expert from Brunel University London, conducted the study.

He said: ‘Cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema are the five main disease categories caused by smoking cigarettes.

‘Such illnesses put significant burdens on the NHS, which we know is already under increasing pressure.

‘Although the long-term effects of reduced risk products (RRPs) are still unknown, we know from previous research that alternatives to traditional cigarettes result in a 90% reduction in the exposure to chemicals that are major contributors to health risks.’

He added: ‘If smokers transitioned to RRPs, it would significantly reduce the pressure on the NHS and free up much-needed hospital resources for other treatments.’

Vape use

This comes as about one in five respondents use e-cigarettes at least monthly and one in ten use them every day.

According to research from The George Institute for Global Health, 15 to 30 year olds in the UK who perceived vapes as harmful were 40% less likely to use them compared to those who do not consider them harmful.

Yet only 53% of those using e-cigarettes at least monthly said they had seen warning labels on packaging.

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