NHS hospitals to trial free e-cigs in A&E departments to help smokers kick the habit

Many people have given up smoking in the past year due to Covid, but there are still substantial numbers keen to kick the habit. Those attending A&E departments at certain NHS hospitals could get a helping hand due to a new trial that will provide smokers with advice and e-cigarette supplies to help them give up.

 - 4 Min Read
Last updated and fact checked:
NHS hospitals to trial free e-cigs in A&E departments to help smokers kick the habit
Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Health Times. Commissions do not affect our writers’ or editors’ opinions or evaluations. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Over recent years, many smokers have decided to give up cigarettes for various reasons. One of the top reasons is, of course, health concerns. Many have also quit due to cost, the antisocial connotations of smoking, and the availability of alternatives.

It has been announced that the NHS is running a trial where smokers who attend A&E departments at certain hospitals will be given advice and free e-cigarettes. They will receive a device as well as a week's supply of e-liquids. In addition, they will be shown how to use them if they have not tried them before.

While the trial is running at NHS hospitals, e-cigarettes are not available on the NHS, so once the trial supplies run out, those who want to continue will need to fund the purchases themselves. However, this is still far cheaper than buying cigarettes, and the health risks are far lower.

The trial will begin this autumn, with some smokers in A&E being issued with advice and supplies no matter their reason for attending hospital. Others will be provided with advice and details of smoking cessation services. The idea is to monitor the patients and determine whether they are still smoking after one, three, and six months.

Number of smokers in the UK declining

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of smokers has been falling in the UK over recent years. Data from 2019 showed that more men than women smoked in the UK, and the highest proportion of smokers was among the 25-34 age group.

Smoking was far less common among over 50s, according to the data. Overall, smoking levels decreased from 14.7% of the population to 14.1% between 2018 and 2019.

Vaping has had a significant impact on the number of people quitting, with estimates of 50,000 people a year in England kicking the habit by turning to vaping.

Over the past year, many people have given up smoking because of Covid-19. Just months after the first wave broke out, it was reported that a million people had given up. In addition, close to another half a million more attempted to give up during those few months.

Some believe that trials such as this one could help to ease the pressure the NHS is under by helping to reduce the number of people in hospitals with smoking-related illnesses. Helping people kick the habit will also be far cheaper for the NHS than treating smokers for a variety of serious illnesses caused by smoking.

What happens when you quit smoking?

What happens when you quit smoking, and how long does it take for your body to respond? Well, the health benefits of quitting smoking begin immediately, and your body starts to react just one day after quitting. After a day, the risk of suffering a heart attack starts to fall, and in just a month, lung function can improve significantly. 

Emma Rossi is manager of LiveWell Dorset, a public-funded health and wellbeing service that offers free stop smoking coaching and quit packs to people living in the county. She told Health Times: “Quitting smoking is tough and we've found that offering e-cigarettes as part of a package of support to stop smoking can bring really positive results.

“Vaping is less harmful than smoking, posing only a fraction of the risk, as e-cigarettes don't contain tar or carbon monoxide – two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke. Any chemicals they might contain are at much lower levels, making vaping a healthier alternative and a useful stepping stone to gently wean smokers off cigarettes for good.”

Even those who have been smoking for years can quickly improve their health and reduce their risks by giving up. Many hope that trials such as this one will further reduce the number of smokers and help to improve the health of the nation. 

The content on is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construedas professional medical advice or guidance. Should you need professional medical advice or guidance, you should consult with such a professional in their relevant field. Likewise, you should always seek professional medical advice before starting a diet, exercise regime or course of medication, or introducing or eliminating specific elements from your lifestyle. We strive to write accurate, genuine and helpful content, and all views and opinions expressed within this article are specifically the views of the author.
See More