A free e-cigarette voucher released by a council to help people in a town stop smoking managed to get more than 100 to quit within a month, according to researchers.
The scheme was trialled for smokers in Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, who had previously failed to quit and proved successful for two out of five people.
The research was led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Of the 340 who redeemed a voucher, 143 (42%) stopped smoking by four weeks.
Following its success, Norfolk County Council, which commissioned the trial, has rolled out the free voucher county-wide.
Researchers collaborated with the public health team and the local stop smoking service Smokefree Norfolk, with the study published in the journal Nicotine And Tobacco Research.
‘Effective way of quitting’
The Great Yarmouth trial saw smokers referred by their GP, themselves or another health service, and they were given a £25 voucher for a vape starter kit.
People were then given advice and support and were required to cover the ongoing cost of using e-cigarettes.
In total, 668 participants were referred between December 2019 and July 2021.
The mean age of referrals was 41.4 years old.
The research team said it hoped the voucher idea could be rolled out nationally to help more smokers quit.
Prof Caitlin Notley, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said compared to other methods, vaping was an “effective way of quitting smoking”.
She said: “Our research has previously shown that they may be particularly helpful in helping people to not only quit, but to stay quit for good.”
The trial not only offered smokers an “affordable route into vaping”, Prof Notley said, but also the support of GPs who “supported the scheme and appreciated being able to offer an alternative to entrenched smokers”.
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