If a woman who is a smoker falls pregnant, the immediate call to action is to stop smoking immediately. Smoking not only harms the mother, but also can cause serious harm to the baby growing inside of her. Giving up smoking is not an easy feat, and it’s always recommended that the expectant mother uses a form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy to curb those nicotine cravings.
However, some women don’t want to stop and will continue to smoke cigarettes while pregnant, which is down to the personal choice of the expectant mother. The problem that comes with this alongside the health risks, is the cost of smoking in today’s society. Which brings us to the topic of conversation for this article, which is a London Council in one of the boroughs is offering pregnant women a “Free vape” to get set up on the right track to quit smoking, in a bid to not only protect them and their unborn child, but also to help save money to be used towards other important things for their soon to be growing family. Let’s have a look at this in more detail.
Lambeth Council offer free Vapes to Pregnant Women
Back in October last year, Lambeth Council, who run the borough of Lambeth based in South London, made the claim that they would be offering a free vape kit to all expectant mothers who applied and lived in the borough in a bid to not only protect them and their unborn child from harm through continuous smoking during pregnancy, but also to save them a considerable amount of money they normally spend on smoking, if they were successful with quitting by using their vaping device.
Lambeth Council estimates that this plan would save an average family approximately £2000 a year, the estimated amount that is predicted a person would spend on smoking each year. And this stop smoking service would help reduce the risk factor involved when a pregnant woman continues to smoke during pregnancy.
A council spokesperson is quoted to say “Smoking during pregnancy is the leading risk factor for poor birth outcomes, including stillbirth, miscarriage and pre-term birth” all of which can be tragic to the expectant mother to have to experience and live through.
The Council referenced data that showed that women from low income households are much more likely to continue to smoke during pregnancy, and they wanted to make a plan that would provide these women with the outlet to use an e-cigarette for their quitting tool to quit smoking, and acknowledged that using an e-cigarette is considerably safer and less harmful than smoking cigarettes. They also recognised that stopping nicotine completely would be the best outcome all round, but this isn’t always the easiest option and using an e-cigarette can help them become smoke free.
Smoking prevalence is statistically higher in more deprived areas in the UK
I’ve spoken about this fact in other articles about the fact that smoking prevalence is considerably higher in more deprived/poverty stricken areas of the UK, and it all comes down to the way of life which people are living, and using smoking cigarettes as an outlet to relieve any stress or worry that they are feeling.
Lambeth is one of the more deprived areas of London, and it’s believed that many families fall into poverty through the cost of smoking. It’s estimated by the local council that there over 3000 households in the Lambeth area that fall under the poverty line due to smoking, and these households will include a number of children also which is really sad to read.
Providing this “free vape scheme” is set to save families over £2000 a year, by not having to shell out money on the extortionate prices of cigarettes. This is absolutely crucial in these unprecedented times we are living in and not only will it save money, it will also help protect and improve the health of the whole household, by stopping smoking taking place in the household.
Lambeth Council drawing inspiration from others
As I’ve spoken about in my previous article, there actually has been several other localised free vape/vape voucher schemes trialled across the country in more deprived areas which has seen a roaring success.
The first of its kind seen was in Great Yarmouth, a town based on the coastal area of Norfolk in East Anglia. Great Yarmouth is one of the more deprived areas of Norfolk, where poverty and unemployment numbers are high, and smoking prevalence is high also which goes hand in hand as I have already discussed.
The University of East Anglia teamed up with Smoke Free Norfolk, the local stop smoking service for Norfolk, to trial a scheme which saw patients visiting their GP wanting to quit smoking being given a “Voucher to Vape” which entitled them to a Vaping starter kit to the value of £25 in a bid to help them get on the right track with vaping, and in turn removing the initial outlay cost to get set up which is always the most expensive part of vaping.
The trial saw success with a high conversion rate of people exchanging their vouchers and continuing to vape past a certain timeframe, and admitting they had successfully given up smoking thanks to having the opportunity to get an e-cigarette that they may have previously not been able to afford. This was adopted by many different other local stop smoking services around the country, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this is where Lambeth Council drew a small amount of inspiration from for their incentive.
Is vaping during pregnancy safe to do?
This is a common question on everybody’s mind, and it’s something I’m going to look into based on previous studies and articles that have been printed previously.
Public Health England have declared vaping to be 95% safer than smoking ever since 2016, and as recently as September last year, they lamented this statement with a study commissioned by them proving yet again that vaping is considerably safer than smoking.
Looking across to the NHS website here for reference, and they discuss the fact that smoking during pregnancy is dangerous to the mother as well as their unborn baby and supports them quitting cigarettes and using a form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy would be suggested. The NHS websites admits there has not been any long-term research done into the safety of vaping by pregnant women, but admits they are a much less risky option than smoking.
Cigarettes contain a high amount of toxins including tar and carbon monoxide, both of which are not present in E-Cigarette vapour, or the vape juice used in the devices. Whilst there may be some of the same chemicals present in both cigarettes and vape juice, the levels are so miniscule in vape juice compared to the high volume in cigarettes, they are not considered dangerous.
The NHS website summarises by saying if an E-Cigarette can help a pregnant woman refrain from smoking cigarettes, then it is a much safer option to continue to use than smoking. And of a similar nature to other NRT products like Nicotine gum, patches and lozenges which are prescribed by Doctors on the NHS.
If you are a pregnant woman reading this, and unsure of the steps to take to stop smoking, please consult your local GP, or Stop Smoking service and get advice from a medical professional before making any decisions.
Source: Pregnant women to be handed free vapes by London council – BBC News