None of what I shall be writing here is rocket science or even original content,apart from a wacky idea that I shall advance towards the end of this blog
After this quite encouraging but slightly misguided RCGP conference summary was published,it triggered an instant response from me in the comments section
Without rehashing the same comments, it ran along the lines that GP and most Stop Smoking Service(SSS) have neither the knowledge, or in particular the financial resources(+staff) to fully support new switchers, if they have chosen to use e-cigarettes in place of tobacco cigarettes. Please note, I do not expect, or am advocating for free kits to be provided by SSS, however if their budgets allow,this could well be very helpful(but piss off non-smoking taxpayers?) Hampshire and Bristol have just introduced such schemes .
The vast majority of #ecigs users will have transitioned from tobacco cigarettes without any GP or SSS involvement whatsoever. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Louise Ross from Leicester SSS, who have been incredibly supportive since 2014 pioneering and campaigning for an e-cig friendly service(along with so much more).
How, many of the 1.5 million UK sole users have been 'supported' to date
1) Vaping Forums eg AAEC , Planet of the Vapes , UK Vapers , E-Cigarette Forum are the 'Big Four' in the UK
Each of these have new user sections, the level of knowledge,guidance, general product and mental support awe inspiring, and certainly not to be dismissed or discounted.
2) Dedicated Facebook Groups :- way too numerous to make a meaningful list, but try this
3) Twitter - very quickly can get support from #Vapefam, most folks very willing to help new users. try this site to get you started as a suggestion(thousands of others also exist)
4) Bricks and Mortar Vape shops - again a vast amount of knowledge exists here
Items 1-4 have supported 'many', but I cannot and would not estimate how large a proportion of the 1.5 million sole users(out of 2.9million total users) were exposed to this knowledge and information
**Note, after writing my blog, this academic article appeared on twitter, which covers the above points in a similar, but more rigorous manner, covering 4192 former smokers.
Hare brained Suggestion Time to provide additional useful Support
a) Social Media from Central Governmentt Sources/ Public Health England/NHS dealing with Smoking eg #Stoptober here
b) As above but local Government based + funded (eg pre-existing SSS.)
c) 'Sympathetic' University Departments
Operate a dedicated #Switch2Ecig website+ Social Media sites with both a) +b)+c) providing funds + personnel to establish and operate, BUT crucially involve the genuine experts :- VAPERS to help run this (try NNA and VIP, even IBVTA /ECITA for knowledgeable volunteers).
It only needs a handful of folks to operate,and potentially be a very cost effective scheme, especially as austerity measures continue to bite. Empowerment is a word frequently used...this would be a good opportunity to demonstrate just that!
E-Cigarettes are primarily a pleasurable consumer device, that have the added benefit of being a highly popular and effective aid to stopping smoking . Other aids are available, having varying effectiveness, the key to cessation success, is consumers having access to detailed accurate information, and making an informed choice of method. This blog was not intended to 'knock' SSS(many of which are under great financial pressure), rather to inform GP and interested others, of what *alternatives* currently exists for new switchers and how that could be enhanced.
As mentioned above,and as we are all aware many local authority SSS have received massive reductions in their budgets which politicians and NGO such as ASH and CR_UK are campaigning Central Government to address. However this is further complicated by many local authorities antipathy towards Vaping , without a wholehearted embrace of Vaping as a valid cessation method , ,they should be defunded or have their budgets slashed, as has been the case.
Why should Central Government bale out rogue councils who have decided that the advice and guidance from themselves via PHE,NCSCT, Stoptober(NHS) is ignored for ideological reasoning, to the detriment of their citizens. This commentary from LGE (2016)is illuminating, giving a glimpse of the conflict and ignorance that exists(recently reinforced via this damning follow up survey) .
In economic terms the costs/quitter figures do not make for enthralling or edifying reading this quotes £55,571 per quitter, although I have read estimates of £74,000 elsewhere...... naturally a price cannot be attached to a smokers life BUT surely a more radical commonsense approach needs examining and implementing?
The solution is staring cash strapped councils in the face, what are they waiting for? All professional and responsible bodies apart from the BMA have made positive reports or commentary towards Vaping in England, surely the WHO negativity(heavily criticised) should hold zero credence!