Stoptober TV ads to encourage smokers to use e-cigarettes

Is October time to stop?
Is October time to stop?

New TV adverts from Public Health England (PHE) will encourage people to try e-cigarettes if they are struggling to quit regular smoking.

The adverts come despite the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) issuing new guidance that does not list e-cigarettes as an aid to stopping smoking.

Nice has also warned that patients should be told by doctors there is currently little evidence on the benefits or harms of e-cigarettes.

Instead, medics are told to strike up a conversation about e-cigarettes and their use.

They should "be aware that Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians have stated that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco".

The PHE Stoptober campaign, which starts on October 1, will feature e-cigarettes in the TV ad and will do more to encourage smokers who are keen to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, said: "E-cigarettes are now the most popular way to quit in the country with half of all those taking part in Stoptober last year using an e-cigarette.

"The evidence is clear - vaping is much less harmful than smoking - a fraction of the risk.

"So, if you've struggled with quitting before, an e-cigarette may be the best option for you."

England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Gina Radford said: "The battle against smoking is far from over - it is still the country's biggest killer, causing 79,000 deaths a year.

"For every death, another 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.

"Far too many people are still dying as a result of smoking but there has never been a better time to quit - the culture has changed, strong legislation is in place and effective support is available.

"It's never too late to give up - any smoker, no matter what their age, will feel the health benefits within months.

"Make the commitment to stop, join Stoptober and add healthier years to your life."

New figures suggest more smokers successfully quit in the first six months of 2017 than ever before.

Quitting success rates are now at their highest for at least a decade in England, standing at 19.8% for the first six months of this year.

Over the last decade, the average has been 15.7%.

University College London researchers defined successful quitting as not having smoked in the previous 12 months.

Last year, more than half (53%) of all those taking part in Stoptober opted to use an e-cigarette as a quitting aid, according to PHE.

E-cigarettes are not available on prescription via the NHS.