Success for the ‘Voucher to Vape’ scheme in Norfolk

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As you may or may not be aware, Dr Javed Khan released a review on the government’s plans for England to become Smoke Free by the year 2030 and made some critical recommendations on what could be done to speed up this process and making the goal an achievable one. You can read my article on it HERE

One of the recommendations was for more deprived areas with limited Stop Smoking services to receive vouchers from Stop Smoking services, or their GP’s that they can use in a vape shop to get themselves a vaping starter kit to get them on the path to stop smoking. And recently, a local Council teamed up with a vape shop in Norfolk offering such service.

Professor Caitlin Notely from the University of East Anglia released a study into this service being offered and the results are a fascinating read and only a positive thing for the future of vaping.

In this article, I’m going to look at the study released by Professor Notely, and look in depth at how this idea came about, what was done and if it was a success.

How it started

Norfolk County Council are the commissioning body behind SmokeFree Norfolk, a stop smoking service offered to the residents of Norfolk and surrounding areas. This service offers free advice and consultations to those who are wanting to quit smoking, and together, they piloted a scheme in which people who wanted to quit smoking would a receive a voucher they would be able to use at a local vape shop to get themselves a starter kit and begin their vaping journey.

They looked at areas of Norfolk that are what is deemed as “deprived” where it’s been statistically proven that smoking prevalence is higher within these areas. And together they opted to roll out the trial in Great Yarmouth, a rural seaside town in Norfolk. Studies showed that smoking prevalence in Great Yarmouth stood at 31.1% of adults were smokers, this is the highest rate in the whole of Norfolk. As well as having the highest number of people living in the most deprived areas.

Immediate intervention was required to help bring the number of smokers down to reduce the mortality rate increasing from smoking related diseases. And so the idea of the voucher scheme was born.

How does it work?

Smoke Free Norfolk introduced the voucher scheme to adults of 18 years or older who visited the Smoke Free clinics, who were given a voucher to the value of £25 to take to a local vape shop to exchange for a vaping starter kit that had a device and vape juice to get them started on the right track.

The results

In total, 668 participants were invited to take part in the scheme. And 340 people took the opportunity to use the voucher for a Starter Kit. Overall, this was a well-received trial scheme seeing over 50% of people using the voucher.

The mean age of referrals was 41.4. A total of 230 (34.4%) were recorded as having a long-term health condition, and a total of 249 (37.3%) had a history of long-term mental health conditions, demonstrating that the pilot was successful in reaching the vulnerable populations it attempted to target.

And at 4 weeks after the vouchers were redeemed, it was reported 143 participants had fully given up smoking by using their vape. It’s so good to read such a high number of users had successfully quit smoking by starting to vape.

The Reception from GPs & Users of the service

GPs heavily praised all parties involved in this scheme, for offering such a great service free of charge in a bid to bring down the smoking rates of the adult population of Great Yarmouth.

They admitted they were keen to refer people who needed the service to encourage them to give up smoking and begin vaping. And believed this scheme was the most innovative way they had seen in the battle to stop people from smoking.

People who took part in the scheme also praised it, admitting they previously hadn’t had the funds to be able to purchase a vape or have the courage to go in to a vape shop and ask for help, and were grateful for the service being offered by NCC and SmokeFree Norfolk.

One person admitted they had previously tried patches and gum, and never thought about using a vape, so were thankful for the recommendation and wish they had started vaping sooner.

Legitimizing Vaping

GPs referring patients or advising them to self-refer legitimized vaping as the best way to quit smoking, which is fantastic for the vaping industry as well as the future of vaping.

Patients admitted they had previously felt hesitant to begin vaping as were unsure of the safety of it, due to the negative press and media attention, but felt more at ease with it after it had been recommended by their GP.

People also admitted they felt more at ease being encouraged to visit a vape shop where the staff would be expecting them and helping them in the correct manor where they previously had felt intimidated to visit.

Helping the NHS as well as others

Patients referred to the scheme aren’t the only people benefitting from this, as it also benefits the NHS by reducing their costs of prescriptions.

It’s reported that offering somebody a £25 Vape Shop Voucher was a cheaper than the cost of offering Stop smoking tablets on prescription, costing the NHS an average of £33 per prescription. On research, it’s proved that a person may be given up to three prescriptions over a 12 week period to stop smoking, resulting to nearly £100 cost to the NHS, when the voucher is only a quarter of this, and is only a one-off cost, as the user is advised all upkeep costs will be at their expense.

A scheme being rolled out nationwide

Following on from the succession of this scheme being rolled out in Norfolk, many GPs and Stop Smoking services across the country are offering a similar voucher-based scheme to encourage people to stop smoking and raising awareness on the positive effects Vaping can have to someone wanting to quit smoking, which is yet again more fantastic news for the Vaping industry.

The North West of England have reported a massive 62% success rate of people quitting smoking within 4 weeks of starting to use a vape as their Nicotine replacement therapy, which is just brilliant, and long may it continue.

In my opinion, any number be it big or small of people successfully quitting smoking is a good thing, and the fact GPs are legitimizing vaping more and more in current day is brilliant for the future of longevity of vaping.

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