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Free vape kits given out as part of anti-smoking drive

Posted on the 12th April 2023

Vape Scheme

One million smokers will be given free vape starter kits as part of a drive to help people give up tobacco products.

Under the new ‘swap to stop’ scheme, almost one in five of all smokers in England will be eligible for the initiative as part of the government’s “smoke-free” drive.

Pregnant women will also be offered up to £400 to stop smoking and a consultation will be launched on placing mandatory advice on quitting smoking in cigarette packs.

The scheme comes on top of plans to crack down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s.

A new survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that vaping among 11- to 17-year-olds has increased from 3.3 per cent in 2021 to 7 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, NHS figures released last year revealed 9 per cent of secondary school pupils use a vape regularly or occasionally, including almost one in five 15-year-olds.

The findings come at a time when the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is trying to balance finding ways to cut underage vaping while ensuring vapes are available to help adult smokers to quit.

Local authorities are being invited to join the first wave of areas taking part in the free vape policy before a larger national scheme is rolled out over the next two years.

Officials estimate it will cost around £45 million to implement.

In 2019, ministers pledged to end smoking - defined as getting rates below 5 per cent - by the end of the decade. As of 2021, smoking prevalence in England was 13 per cent, the lowest on record.

However, a review of the 2030 target published last year warned it will be missed by at least seven years without further action.

Its author, Dr Javed Khan, called for a range of new measures, including a ban on smoking at outdoor spaces such as beaches and beer gardens.

Related: Study reveals vaping more harmful to lungs than smoking

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