Smoking cessation services that are e-cigarette friendly have the potential to make a considerable impact, particularly if supported through training, policy consistency and the sharing of best practice, according to research from the University of Exeter and the University of Melbourne.
The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, suggests stop smoking services which are e-cigarette friendly should advertise this more openly.
Using e-cigarettes as a tool for smoking cessation within health care services remains a controversial issue. The authors of this new research say strong leadership from organisations such as Public Health England has made a difference in changing attitudes. However, they add that nervousness among public health workers is preventing the widespread establishment of stop smoking services which support vapers.
As part of the study, published in the Harm Reduction Journal, academics interviewed staff from 8 different stop smoking services in the South-West of England. They found that although some services labelled themselves "e-cigarette friendly", there was no consensus on what this should entail.
Some were actively incorporating e-cigarettes, working with local vape shops and in one case, offering e-cigarettes through a voucher scheme to disadvantaged groups. However, others were worried that e-cigarettes might be addictive and were not medically licensed and were concerned that the service might be seen as being "wedded" to the vaping industry.
Dr. Hannah Farrimond from the University of Exeter said: "There are real opportunities for stop smoking services to use e-cigarettes more actively to help people give up smoking, but for this to happen policies around the country need to be consistent, and people need to share best practice and know what others are doing."