According to a study, half of England’s adult smokers who switch to e-cigarettes could save the NHS more than £500m a year.
Researchers from Brunel University London used data from NHS Digital, the Royal College of Physicians and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to determine smoking prevalence in each region.
They found that between 2019 and 2021, 13.6% of people aged 18 and over in England smoked.
The lowest smoking rate is in the South East (12.2%) compared to 14.1% in the Midlands, 14.6% in the North West and 15% in the North East and Yorkshire.
The study, published in the British Journal of Healthcare Management, suggests that if 50% of these people switched to e-cigarettes, hospital admissions would fall by 13%, resulting in savings of £518million.
The figure was calculated by examining data on smoking as a cause of death, as well as the risk of developing five diseases – cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis and emphysema – from the habit.
Such diseases place a significant strain on the NHS which, as we know, is already under increasing strain
The research team calculated total healthcare expenditure by multiplying the average ward cost per bed-day for a given disease by the average length of hospital stay for that disease.
In the North East and Yorkshire alone, 50% of smokers switching to e-cigarettes could save £148m, say researchers.
Professor Francesco Moscone, a business studies expert from Brunel University London, said: “Diseases like this place a significant burden on the NHS which, as we know, is already under increasing strain.”
He added that while the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown, previous research has shown that they “result in a 90 percent reduction in exposure to chemicals that are major contributors to health risks.”
In 2019, the government outlined its goal of making England “smoke-free” by 2030.
The company also launched a “Swap to Stop” campaign in April, offering e-cigarettes to one million smokers to encourage them to quit.
Prof Moscone said that “acceptance of the transition” from cigarettes to e-cigarettes “would represent a critical opportunity for us to regain momentum and align with our ambitious 2030 plan”.
Deborah Arnott, Executive Director of the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said: “This study provides further evidence that the Government’s ‘Swap to Stop’ campaign, by providing one million e-cigarettes to smokers, is helping them helping to quit would help ease the pressure on smokers’ our congested NHS.
“Although smoking costs the NHS well over £2 billion a year, the biggest public finance benefit from reducing smoking will not lie with the NHS but in the combined reduction in social security and social care spending due to smoking more than double the cost of smoking to the NHS.”
A survey of 12,271 adults conducted by YouGov for the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) found that 43% of people believe vaping is just as dangerous or more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.
Ms Arnott said “misconceptions about the harms” of vaping are a “barrier for smokers” and “need to be urgently addressed”.
Ash estimates that 9.1% (4.7 million) of adults in the UK smoke. Of these, 2.7 million are ex-smokers, 1.7 million are current smokers and 320,000 have never smoked.
This comes amid concerns from a number of organizations about the trend for young people and children to use e-cigarettes and calls for stricter regulations on their marketing and packaging.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that while e-cigarettes are a “preferred alternative to smoking for adults”, they have concerns “about the rise in e-cigarette vaping among young people”.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/nhs-south-east-office-for-national-statistics-north-west-midlands-b1099026.html Switching to e-cigarettes “could save the NHS more than half a billion a year,” according to a study