UK Vape Voucher Scheme Evaluation…

After recent reports of how vaping is an effective tool to help people quit smoking, a review has been published of a pilot scheme where people were given Vape Vouchers.

The Oxford Academic group have published a paper in their Nicotine and Tobacco research journal assessing the results of this trial.

The scheme was implemented through a partnership between Smoke Free Norfolk and a commercial vape retailer.

Voucher Scheme Details
The scheme took place in Norfolk UK. The Great Yarmouth area at the time (2019) had the highest percentage of smokers in Norfolk and a higher percentage of people living in the most deprived areas.

This was open to residents over 18 initially in the Great Yarmouth area between December 2019 and March 2020.

It was later extended to July 2021 as the scheme was on pause during the worst of the Covid pandemic during March and April 2020.

People who smoked and were unsuccessful in previous quit attempts were referred to the scheme via either a GP, Smoke Free Norfolk, Secondary care services or self-referral.

There were 668 participants referred to the scheme and 340 of those redeemed the voucher for £25 towards vape equipment to get them started.

Voucher scheme participants were encouraged to attend appointments with a Stop Smoking advisor during the scheme.

At 4 weeks 21% (143) of these were recorded as having quit smoking. These percentages were from the total referrals of 668. If you take the number of people who redeemed the voucher (340 actively taking part) this is then 42%.

At 12 weeks 15% (50) (of the active participants) were still off the smokes.
Clients and GP’s supported the scheme as it offered an affordable route to help stop smoking. A GP commented…

“A great innovative scheme for those who have not managed to give up and don’t want to. Lots of my patients interested, I asked many to self-refer… an innovative scheme for hard to help people and any schemes that reduce risk for this group is hard to come by and I really valued it. “


Scheme Participants
A number of participants are quoted in the report about the positive effect of the scheme…

“[Without being referred to the scheme] I think I would still be smoking, going on to the vape has reduced my smoking considerably.

It’s the first time I’ve seen a scheme like this happening and I hope it continues, because it did help people like me and people that want to give up smoking.”

“Obviously it’s cost free to start with and we didn’t have the money to help us get started…I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it. [Client]”

“[Previous attempt at vaping] it seemed to be very strong the liquid, hurting the back of my throat and everything. But now I’ve spoke to [vape shop manager] in the shop, he explained the different milligrams of nicotine in each one and he said you’d be on a number 3 then. And I tried the number 3 and it were fine, it didn’t hurt my throat or nothing. [Client]”

Social Media

“668 participants were referred to the pilot e-cigarette scheme, and 340 participants redeemed a voucher.

— Nicotine and Tobacco Research Journal (@NTR_Journal) October 19, 2022

Pilot E-Cigarette Voucher Scheme “This innovative (pilot e-cigarette voucher) scheme enabled 42% of entrenched smokers who redeemed a voucher to successfully quit smoking within 4 weeks.” | Nicotine & Tobacco Research | Oxford Academic #VAPING #VAPE

— UKVIA (@Vaping_Industry) October 14, 2022

Innovative UK Pilot E-Cigarette voucher outreach scheme in rural English County proves a success!
42% of entrenched smokers who redeemed a voucher successfully quit smoking within 4 weeks.

— INNCOorg (@INNCOorg) October 14, 2022

Final Thoughts
The scheme has been deemed to be a success and it also succeeded due to the collaboration between local Health Authorities, GP’s and Retailers. The cost of getting set up with vape kit was off putting to some.

“The pilot vape shop voucher scheme shows promise, in that it supported 42% of people who redeemed a voucher to quit smoking at 4 weeks. Although this quit rate is lower than the service average of 55% (for people who set a quit date) for the comparable time period, it must be noted that the population targeted particularly entrenched smokers, with a high proportion of long-term and mental health conditions.”

“The cost of supplying the vape shop vouchers (£25 each) was also considerably lower than the cost of standard stop smoking medication, where the average prescribing cost is £33 per person”

I really hope this success means this will be rolled out in other areas of the UK too!

“Ongoing evaluation is important to continue to track delivery and outcomes of the pilot, but initial evaluation suggests promising outcomes, particularly considering the entrenched population. To improve public health by supporting deprived populations to quit smoking it is recommended that commissioners consider the wider implementation of similar voucher schemes, with robust pre-planned evaluation to collect more information to allow reporting of reliable effect sizes.”

Visiting the Smoke Free Norfolk Website it appears there is a new 12 week scheme for 2022!