The use of e-cigarettes to help quit smoking is being promoted by a south London council who have decided to hand out free starter kits to pregnant women. Professor Lynne Dawkins, a leading tobacco harm reduction expert, has gone on record to state that switching from smoking to vaping can have a positive impact on public health.
Lambeth Council has demonstrated its confidence in the potential of electronic cigarettes by incorporating into its plans for the local pregnancy service. Officials believe that vaping can help pregnant women to become smoke-free.
A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “Smoking during pregnancy is the leading risk factor for poor birth outcomes, including stillbirth, miscarriage, and pre-term birth. Data shows that women from low-income households are much more likely to smoke in pregnancy. We are now planning to support the use of e-cigarettes for women who choose that route as their preferred aid for quitting tobacco, since this is less harmful compared to smoking. We recognise that while it is best for pregnant smokers to stop smoking without continuing to use nicotine, if this is difficult, and if they choose to use e-cigarettes it can help them become smoke-free.”
The council officials identified that smoking has a disproportionate impact on those on lower incomes and the cost of cigarettes helps to drive poverty. It believes that by assisting pregnant smokers to quit, they can help new parents to save about £2,000 a year. The officials say that by offering free starter kits they will be encouraging quit attempts and the cost saving by not buying tobacco products will benefit parents and children.
One councillor, Ben Kind, said: “The council is soon to start providing free vape products, as part of the stop smoking service, to smokers who are pregnant and/or are carers of young children. This is aimed at improving the health of the family and saving money in the process of approximately £2,000 per year per family. It is estimated that over 3,000 households in Lambeth fall under the poverty line due to smoking and many of these households include children.”
London South Bank University’s Professor Lynne Dawkins has taken part in many independent research projects looking at vaping and e-cig products. The experience has resulted in her being one of the country’s foremost experts on the subject.
Professor Dawkins recently spoke about the known benefits of switching to vaping. She pointed out that if cigarettes were launched in the UK for the first time today, the advances in technology and research methods would be able to identify how dangerous smoking was very quickly – swiftly spotting that tobacco smoke contains 7,000 different chemical compounds, of which 70 are known causes of cancer.
She said: “We can do the same with the vapour, and we have found some detectable levels of potentially harmful compounds, but they’re so much lower. From that, we can kind of extrapolate that the long-term effects are going to be nowhere near as harmful as smoking.”
Professor Dawkins thinks it is important that people always remember quite how dangerous smoking is and that the relative risk of vaping should be compared with that. It is significant that Lambeth Council has recognised this, and the residents are set to benefit from its common-sense approach.