Switching to vapes would save NHS half a billion pounds, study claims

A major study says the NHS in England would save more than £500 million a year if half of England’s adult smokers switched from cigarettes to vapes.

In Humber and North Yorkshire it’s estimated around £82 million a year is spent by the NHS on treating smoking-related illness, with an additional £43.6 million in social care costs. [1]

The new research, led by Brunel University, London, has suggested a traditional smoker would see a 70 per cent reduction in smoking-related diseases if they transitioned to a reduced risk product (RRP), such as a vape.

If 50 per cent of adult smokers converted, the NHS overall would save £518 million in a typical year, the researchers – who analysed data from NHS Digital, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Royal College of Physicians – said.

Researchers determined the figure by looking at statistics related to smoking as a cause of death, but also considered the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke as a result of smoking.

Areas such as the North-East and Yorkshire – which has almost double the number of people with lung cancer compared to most English regions – would see greater savings, they said.

The Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership prioritised the rollout of the NHS Long Term plan way ahead of many other Integrated Care Boards across the country. There are now ‘Swap and Stop’ Tobacco Dependency Treatment Teams in place at hospital trusts across the region, offering dedicated support and nicotine replacement therapy medications to every person admitted to hospital who smokes, with ongoing support available upon discharge. 

Already, the Swap and Stop programme has supported more than a third of patients who access the service to become completely smokefree; drastically improving health, decreasing re-admissions and more importantly adding years onto the lives of patients.

Humber and North Yorkshire Tobacco Programme Manager, Dave Jones said:

“We are delighted with the effectiveness of the Swap and Stop teams since their launch across hospital trusts in Humber and North Yorkshire last year.  

“When people are admitted to hospital and are heavily dependent on tobacco, our team supports them by offering swaps to safer forms of nicotine such as patches, inhalators and lozenges and all our services are vape friendly.

“The team is there to help patients to swap their tobacco for something less harmful whilst in hospital and during their recovery, then make the switch permanent if they want to go on to do that.

“What we’ve found is that once people realise that they can comfortably manage without smoking when they have the right support and medication, this encourages them to go on and stop for good, so it really is a case of swapping and stopping!”

To find out more information on stopping smoking, please visit Quit smoking – Better Health – NHS (www.nhs.uk) for links to free support from your local stop smoking service.

[1] ASH Ready Reckoner – ASH