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UK Government Offers Free Vaping Starter Kits to 1 Million Smokers to Encourage Quitting

UK Government Offers Free Vaping Starter Kits to 1 Million Smokers to Encourage Quitting 

The UK government has unveiled plans to give away one million vaping starter kits to smokers as part of an effort to get smoking rates in England below 5% by 2030. The free vape policy, called “swap to stop,” will be accompanied by behavioral support, and almost one in five smokers in England are expected to receive the kit. Pregnant women will also be offered up to £400 to help them stop smoking, while a crackdown on underage and illicit vape sales is also planned. However, some charities have warned that the initiative is “nowhere near sufficient” to tackle addiction.

Health minister Neil O’Brien has said that cigarettes are “the only product on sale which will kill you if used correctly.” The UK government has ruled out raising the minimum age for the sale of cigarettes from 18, with policies focusing on helping people to quit rather than imposing bans. It is estimated that 9% of women still smoke during pregnancy in England, and the government says local trials indicate that financial incentives and behavioral support can be effective.

vaping to replace smoking in the UK

Officials estimate that the free vape policy will cost around £45m, which will be funded from the health department’s budget but administered by local authorities. Local authorities will be invited to join the first wave of areas taking part in the scheme, before a larger national scheme is rolled out over the next two years. However, charities such as Asthma and Lung UK have called for stop smoking services offering personalized support, arguing that tackling addiction is more complex than simply swapping cigarettes for vapes.

While the UK government wants to encourage adult smokers to swap cigarettes for vapes, there are concerns about the rising popularity of the products among children. NHS figures have revealed that 9% of secondary school pupils use a vape regularly or occasionally, including almost one in five 15-year-olds. The government has announced that it is setting up a new trading standards enforcement squad to crack down on vapes being sold illegally to under-18s. A full consultation on how young people can be discouraged from taking up the habit is also being launched.

The UK’s move towards vaping is in contrast to many countries that have banned the products, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Iran, India, and Argentina. According to the Australian government website, it is illegal to possess or use any nicotine vaping products without a prescription from a doctor. It is also illegal to smoke cigarettes and e-cigarettes in enclosed public places such as trains, planes, and buses. Turkey has banned the sales of e-cigarettes, although it is not actually illegal to vape in the country. The UK government has acknowledged that e-cigarettes are not a “silver bullet” or “totally risk-free.”

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