bristol city council launch free ecig scheme to encourage vaping

Bristol City Council's brilliant vaping initiative offers free ecigarette vouchers to help people in the city quit smoking...

The scheme, launched in September last year, sees the vouchers handed out to smokers who are struggling to quit and is particularly effective in some areas of the city with the highest deprivation and where there are groups that find the current 4-week hard quit programme a struggle. 

And so far the use of ecigarettes has proven far more successful for many of the hardest to reach smokers, for example those with substance abuse problems.

Before the ecigarette scheme smokers were encouraged to join up to a four-week hard quit programme, whereby they set a quit date four weeks in the future.  However, this ‘hard-stop’ approach didn’t work for everyone, so the e cigarette vouchers were brought in to help smokers and reduce the harm from tobacco.

Amanda Chappell, a Commissioner at Bristol City Council, said: ‘It’s much harder to do the four-week quit and this is more flexible for those areas that struggle with the hard-quit date. We offer a voucher and they go and choose their own ecigarette.

‘We’re seeing them as supporting people, where possible, to quit or in the short term reducing the amount of tobacco they use.  For example we’re getting brilliant results in pregnant women.’

And although Mrs Chappell has said that the council are also encouraging people to eventually quit ecigarettes too, they are taking the headline from the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England that ‘vaping is 95% safer than smoking’ when it comes to encouraging people to stop smoking.

The stats show that more than 30% of the households in the Hartcliffe and Withywood areas of Bristol have people living there who smoke, compared to 18% nationwide.

The vouchers are used as part of an overall support network to help users, which includes behavioural support, NRT, debt management and the existing community-based assets that are available.