There is no hiding from the fact that the cost-of-living crisis is present in society today, and most of us are being affected by it in one way or another. People are trying out various different methods to save themselves money where possible, turning off lights and switches when not in use, opting to walk or take public transport rather than pay money for the high price of fuel, and what may come as a surprise to some of you, people are quitting smoking and starting to vape to save money, especially in more deprived areas within the country.
The cost of vaping is an absolute fraction of what the cost of smoking is, with the difference being thousands of pounds between the two. Recent surveys and studies have showed that more people are quitting smoking and starting to vape for the usual reasons of it being safer and a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a high volume of them are choosing to vape because it’s so much cheaper than smoking. I’m going to take a look into this in more detail, and give reasons why I believe vaping needs to be kept an affordable option for people, especially those in more deprived areas, to ensure people have access to the tools they need to quit and bring mortality rates down.
Smoking prevalence within society
Even though the number of adult users of e-cigarettes is sitting at the highest it’s ever been and will likely continue to rise year on year going forward, the number of smokers in the UK still sits at a worryingly high number. Studies have been carried out looking at where smoking is more prevalent within society’s settings, and it’s found that smoking rates are the highest in more deprived areas of the country.
Cancer Research UK looked into this in depth in a study released last year (2021) In this study, they found that 27,000 cases of cancer a year in England are associated with poverty or deprivation, and found that people who are living in poverty or deprivation are 2.5 times likely to smoke than those in less deprived areas and will find it harder to quit than others, and this could then contribute to major health problems such as Cancer.
The experts looked into this and gave their reasoning as to why these numbers are so high, and it was simply down to exposure to cigarettes from others around them smoking, which may lead to temptation to try, or take in smoke passively from others. Also nicotine can act as a stress reliver for people who may be worrying about finances, or other daily worries that come with this cost of living crisis that’s occurring currently. It’s also been reported that the tobacco industry subliminally target these areas for advertising boards and posters going up to subliminally advertise their products. Sneaky.
Cancer Research says that out of these 27,000 cases of cancer caused by deprivation, if smoking inequalities were removed and the smoking rates matched those in more privileged areas, over 5,500 cases could have been avoided and the mortality rate would be lower.
This can’t just happen without some intervention and help from the necessary people that could aid these numbers going down, and the most vital people that can help this situation is the government.
What needs to be done to bring the numbers down?
The government pledged back in 2019 that they wanted to achieve a “Smoke Free” England by the year 2030. This means that there would be 5% or lower of the entire adult population of the country that are active smokers. They were quite clear and passionate about this achieving this goal, however three years on, it looks like there’s going to be quite a shortfall in achieving this target. Multiple experts have looked at current facts and figures, and the general consensus is that the country will be fortunate to achieve this by 2040, ten years past their original goal year, unless some serious action is taken by the government to help this.
Deprived areas are called deprived because that’s exactly what they are when compared to areas that are more privileged. Studies have shown that support from the government isn’t prominent in these areas across the board of various different things, but one of the most noticeable things is the lack of Stop Smoking services that are in these areas. They are either few and far between, and what ones that are present have to cater for a massive demographic of people, or simply there just isn’t any in these local areas.
More about Stop Smoking services
Stop Smoking services are fantastic outlets for people who want to quit smoking. They are NHS funded services, with a team of experts working for them who can offer absolutely invaluable advice and support for people who want to quit smoking and help them on their way to giving up the habit of smoking and enriching their lives by not smoking anymore, and this comes all free of charge to patients who get enrolled into the service. This can happen by somebody seeing their GP, who then refers them to the service.
Earlier this year, one stop smoking service located in Norfolk called Smoke Free Norfolk ran a trial of a “Voucher to Vape” scheme, where patients would receive a voucher, they could take to their local vape shop, and exchange it for a starter kit to get them set up and start them off right on their vaping journey. This was set up and trialled amongst the people of Great Yarmouth which, as their statistics say is the most deprived area of Norfolk. The scheme was a roaring success and saw a decent conversion rate of people who took up the offer to cash the voucher in and a good percentage of those who did use the voucher continued to vape and gave up smoking. I’ve written an article on this topic which is available to read by clicking here
This scheme inspired other stop smoking services around the country to adopt this method and again, saw resounding success with the patients who took up the offer. But as I mentioned, these services are NHS funded, and with enough strain already on the NHS, surely something can be done by the government to enhance these services?
The strain that Stop Smoking services are under
As I mentioned, these stop smoking services are under huge strain and pressure as there simply is not enough of them available to the population of surrounding areas. Currently there are 129 stop smoking services in England, and it’s estimated there’s roughly 6 million smokers in England with at least 55% of them wanting to quit smoking according to survey results. This equates to 1 stop smoking service to 27,906 people. Eye watering really, and quite disheartening when thinking about people trying to access these services to be able to get help.
What is interesting is there was a study carried out which looked at specific counties and areas in the country that had Stop Smoking services available and looked at the stop smoking services to smoker ratio and the results were absolutely crazy.
The best ratio was Central London and Westminster, a more privileged area of the country, had 3 stop smoking services available which equated to 1 Service to every 15,330 smokers. What is interesting is the smoking prevalence in this area wasn’t very high compared to others, yet they had a lot more resources available. And on the contrary, Birmingham and Solihull, which does have some deprived areas, had ONE stop smoking service to…173,743 smokers! This is absolutely soul destroying to read such a contrast in figures, with services being plentiful in these less deprived areas, and the areas that are deprived having limited to no resources.
This is why it’s absolutely vital that some interjection and support is given to these deprived areas. It looks like priority is being given to the “richer” areas of the country, and the deprived areas are being left out and continue to suffer from deprivation from vital resources which could help increase life expectancy in these areas.
Why Vaping must continue to be affordable for everyone
It’s shown that people who are in these deprived areas do not have a lot of income and certainly have limited dispensable income to spend on things. With smoking being so prevalent in these areas, people are going to be struggling to afford to continue their habit and as studies have shown more people have opted to switch to vaping for this exact reason.
And therefore, I believe vaping needs to be kept an affordable option for people who want to quit smoking and start saving money. We are firm advocates of making vaping affordable for everyone here at Vape69, which is why we offer high quality e-liquid at the cheapest prices in the UK! For only 69p a bottle, you will get 10ml of high-quality UK made e-liquid with over 60 flavours to choose from!
As well as this, we now also offer a cheaper alternative to Disposable Vapes, with the recent launch of our new premium Nic Salt range called Vape Bar Nic Salts that has drawn inspiration from the popular flavours of Disposable vapes, where we offer 10ml of premium nic salt e-liquid for only £1.69 a bottle! This is a fraction of the price of a Disposable, and you get over FIVE times the amount of e-liquid compared to what you get in a Disposable!
Whilst we are doing out bit to keep vaping as affordable as possible to everyone, I hope that in due course and preferably sooner rather than later, that the government will make the task of quitting smoking easier for people by funding more stop smoking services to be opened in deprived areas so that they are a lot more accessible to people who really need it.