22 Sep 2016

Public Health

Switchover this Stoptober and let your tobacco habit meet its match

As thousands of people across the country get set to quit smoking for Stoptober 2016, smokers in Bristol are being offered extra help to give up for good by switching to e-cigarettes.

Three Switch2Vape events, which will have a speed dating format and match local smokers with vapers, are taking place in local communities across the city. The events, hosted by the council’s Public Health team, will introduce smokers to the idea of quitting by using e-cigarettes which are 95% safer than smoking tobacco according to the Royal College of Physicians (May 2016).

These events are based on a survey earlier this year which found that people who have switched from tobacco to vaping can help others switch successfully by providing invaluable first-hand experience, information and advice to smokers who may be contemplating using an e-cigarette to support a quit attempt (1).

Councillor Fi Hance, Cabinet Member for City Health and Wellbeing, said: “We’re taking these events right into the heart of local communities so it’s easy for people to attend. The speed dating format is a fun way to get people interested and will also help to create a local peer support networks. By speaking to someone who has successfully quit or made the switch we hope others will know they can do it too. As a former smoker I know how difficult it can be, but Stoptober gives many people the extra push they need to quit smoking. It is a great time to start thinking about how you could do it.”

At the event free carbon monoxide testing will be available and local Smokefree teams will be on hand to talk about the latest e-cigarette research and guidance, and sign up anyone who would like take part in Stoptober. Anyone who signs up to Stoptober support with the teams may also be eligible for e-cigarette vouchers to support their quit attempt.

Using stop smoking services is the most effective way for people to quit and get advice on vaping. Smokers can triple their chances of success by using an e-cigarette combined with attending their local support to Stop Smoking service. Inner city and east Bristol stop smoking teams are able to provide services in Somali, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Polish, Romanian and Bangladeshi.

Steve Bush, 58, lives in Brislington and quit smoking almost three months ago. He said: “I started smoking at just 16 and have tried to quit many times over the years. The thing that finally worked for me was when, on the advice of my local Stop Smoking service, I tried an e-cigarette alongside a nicotine patch. I haven’t looked back since and am slowly coming off the patches. For anyone thinking about quitting I’d say don’t build it up and make a big deal of it – there’s no better time than now. I’ll be at some of the Switch2Vape events to talk to people about my experience so pop down and say hello.”

Marcus Munafò, Professor of Biological Psychology at Bristol University and an expert in the field of e-cigarettes, said: “Nothing is entirely risk-free, but the vastly reduced number of chemicals present in e-cigarette vapour compared to tobacco smoke means we can be confident that vaping will be much, much less harmful than smoking.”

Quitting success rates are now the highest ever recorded according to Public Health England – 500,000 people successfully gave up last year. Smokers who quit for 28 days during Stoptober are five times more likely to quit for good. Researchers at University College London estimate that e-cigarettes may have helped some 18,000 people in the country quit smoking last year (2).