UK Smokers Could Save £1,847 Per Year by Switching to Vaping

While a US study claims that vaping poses a financial burden on local healthcare services, UK data indicate that switching from smoking to vaping actually eases the financial burden posed by smoking on the individual.

The US study, “Healthcare utilisation and expenditures attributable to current e-cigarette use among US adults,” concluded that vaping leads to substantially higher costs and excess use of healthcare services across the States. “Adult current e-cigarette use was associated with substantial excess healthcare utilisation and expenditures.”

Clearly, UK health services disagree. In December 2021, the local National Health Service (NHS) released a guidance on steps manufacturers must follow to submit products for approval as cessation tools. Published by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the guidance went on to state that any approved vaping products, would be made available for doctors to prescribe. “This country continues to be a global leader on healthcare, whether it’s our Covid-19 vaccine rollout or our innovative public health measures reducing people’s risk of serious illness,” said Health Secretary Sajid Javid at the time.

The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) and WeVape had released a joint statement commending the UK Government for embracing the science with regards to tobacco harm reduction (THR). Despite pressures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other entities waging a war on vaping, the UK had been a leader at reducing local smoking rates via progressive vape policies.

“The UK is the world leader in harm reduction and provides an excellent example for the rest of the world on efficient smoking cessation through vaping. Our government has chosen a path that has proven to be fruitful, with science to back that up. In the lead up to WHO’s conference in November, the UK needs to reinforce its commitment to vaping, and encourage other countries to do the same,” said Mark Oates, Director of WeVape.

If half of UK smokers switched from smoking to vaping the NHS would save millions
Moreover, a study conducted by researchers at Brunel University London, said that if half of all UK smokers had to switch to vaping, there would be a 13% reduction in hospital admissions, potentially leading to annual savings of over £500 million for the NHS. This would equate to about £518 million in England and around £53m in London alone.

Meanwhile, the UK’s 6.9 million adult smokers are believed to be spending up to £180 a month if they smoke a 10-pack of cigarettes a day, with the cost increasing to £360 a month for those who smoke a 20-pack each day. Recent data indicate that these smokers could save £2,190 a year if they managed to quit or at least  £1,847 per year if they managed to switch to e-cigarettes.

Vape Club director Dan Marchant, underlined that fact that even just switching to a safer alternative makes a difference financially. The rising prices of both roll-up and straight cigarettes have impacted smokers’ budgets, driven by increased taxes and production costs, he explained. Marchant highlighted that despite the challenges of quitting smoking, the financial incentives may provide additional motivation for individuals to consider alternatives.

In fact, a cross-sectional survey of 68 male smokers living in a temporary accommodation hostel in Brisbane, Australia, suggested that smoking cessation campaigns promoting the financial savings of cessation may be more effective than ones focusing on health amongst certain groups.

Saving money may be a greater incentive to quit smoking than health
The paper titled, “‘Money up in smoke’: The financial benefits of smoking cessation may be more motivating to people who are homeless than potential health gains,” rightly pointed out that smoking among disadvantaged groups such as people who are homeless or living in temporary accommodation, increases the likelihood of poor health outcomes and financial disadvantages.

While improved health was the most frequently cited perceived advantage of quitting smoking, more participants expressed interest in a campaign highlighting the financial advantages of cessation rather than one focused on the health benefits. Specifically, twice as many participants indicated that the steep expenses associated with smoking made them consider quitting, compared to those considering it because of graphic health warnings on cigarette packets.