The UK government is pushing forward with a series of new measures to reduce smoking rates and address the issue of youth vaping. In an effort to create a healthier nation and achieve the ambitious goal of being smoke-free by 2030, the government has recently announced several initiatives, including the pioneering £45m 'swap to stop' scheme and a crackdown on illicit vape sales.
The 'swap to stop' scheme, the first of its kind in the world, aims to encourage one million smokers to exchange their cigarettes for vapes. Nearly one in five smokers in England will be provided with a vape starter kit, along with behavioural support, to help them quit the habit. Local authorities will be invited to participate in the scheme and design programs tailored to their needs, including determining which populations to prioritise.
Financial Incentives for Pregnant Women
In addition to the 'swap to stop' scheme, the UK government plans to offer financial incentives to pregnant women to help them quit smoking.
By the end of next year, vouchers and behavioural support will be provided to pregnant women who smoke. This initiative is expected to reduce the number of babies born underweight or underdeveloped, and lower the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It will also ease the pressure on the NHS by reducing the number of smoking-related illnesses requiring treatment, ultimately contributing to the goal of cutting NHS waiting lists.
Mandatory Cigarette Pack Inserts
Alongside these measures, the government will consult on the introduction of mandatory cigarette pack inserts featuring positive messages and information to assist people in quitting smoking. This initiative is expected to complement other efforts to help more adults quit smoking and prevent children and non-smokers from taking up vaping.
Crackdown on Illicit Vape Sales
In response to the growing popularity of vaping among young people, the government is launching a crackdown on illicit vape sales.
A call for evidence has been initiated to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products. The government also plans to allocate £3 million in funding to create a specialized 'illicit vapes enforcement squad' to enforce vaping rules and tackle illicit vapes and underage sales.
The enforcement squad will work with Trading Standards and regional networks to share knowledge and intelligence. Specific projects, such as test purchasing in convenience stores and vape shops, will be undertaken. The squad will also produce guidance for building regulatory compliance and have the power to remove illegal products from shops and borders.
The government's call for evidence seeks information on a range of themes related to children and vaping, aiming to inform evidence-based policy decisions. Topics of interest include building regulatory compliance, the appeal of vape products, marketing and promotion, the role of social media, effective educational approaches, the environmental impact of disposable products, and understanding the vape market. The consultation is open until 11:45 pm on 6 June 2023.
These latest initiatives reflect the UK government's commitment to creating a healthier nation by reducing smoking rates and addressing the rising issue of youth vaping. Through a combination of innovative schemes, enforcement measures, and evidence-based policymaking, the UK government aims to achieve its goal of a smoke-free country by 2030.
Public Health Grant Funding and NHS Support
Public health grant funding has played a crucial role in supporting local stop smoking services. In the financial year 2021-2022, £68 million was spent on these services by local authorities, resulting in nearly 100,000 people quitting with the help of a stop smoking service. Furthermore, £35 million has been committed to the NHS to ensure all smokers admitted to hospitals are offered NHS-funded tobacco treatment services. These investments have contributed to the decline of smoking prevalence in England, which stood at 13% in 2021, the lowest rate on record.
Updated Strategy to Tackle Illicit Tobacco
As part of the measures against illicit tobacco, HMRC and Border Force will publish an updated strategy this year. The strategy will outline a comprehensive plan to target, catch, and punish those involved in the illicit tobacco market. The collaboration between various enforcement agencies and the government's work with Trading Standards will strengthen efforts to combat illicit tobacco sales, ensuring a more effective approach to reduce smoking rates and protect public health.
Impact of New Policies
These new policies have the potential to significantly improve public health and reduce the burden of smoking-related illnesses on the NHS. For individuals who quit smoking, the risk of heart attack is halved within one year of quitting, decreasing the likelihood of requiring hospital care or worse. Moreover, supporting more women to have smoke-free pregnancies will improve the health of new-borns, reducing the need for neonatal and ongoing care.
The UK government's latest measures targeting smoking rates and youth vaping showcase a strong commitment to creating a healthier nation. By implementing innovative schemes, strengthening enforcement, and using evidence-based policymaking, these initiatives aim to reduce the number of smoking-related illnesses and deaths, as well as prevent young people from taking up vaping. As the government pursues its ambitious goal of a smoke-free England by 2030, these new policies represent significant strides toward achieving this vision.
JM Wholesale offers the UK's widest range of vaping and CBD goods. Get in touch today to learn more about our Price Beating service, and fast free UK delivery.