Why vaping is ‘not risk-free' and how to quit for good
Vaping was once a tool to help smokers quit, now it has become a habit in its own right. Find out how to stop smoking for good
The number of people vaping in England has more than quadrupled in the last decade. From an estimated 800,000 users in 2013 that figure has skyrocketed to between 3.1 and 3.2 million in 2022, according to government findings.
And while vaping has been recommended by the NHS to help smokers bin off cigarettes, by curbing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, Vitality research shows that more than half of e-cigarette users did not start vaping to kick the habit .
While 68% of respondents said they had started vaping to quit smoking, and have successfully done so, more than half admitted that they did not plan to quit vaping. Just over half acknowledged they were more addicted to their vape than they were cigarettes.
Meanwhile, vaping among 11 to 17-year-olds has also been described as ‘fast-becoming epidemic’ with 20% of children having experimented with e-cigarettes in 2023, namely the use of disposable vapes.
“With increasing numbers of people taking up vaping, including previous non-smokers and young people, it’s important to be aware that vaping is not risk-free,” says Dr Katie Tryon, Vitality’s Director of Health Strategy.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that not only is it highly addictive, but it also causes unwanted side effects.”
She also points to the potential health risks of vaping in later life and that people should opt for a “nicotine-free lifestyle” where they can.
Along with vapers’ plans to quit are going up in smoke, the battle to steer people away from smoking tobacco is still ongoing. In 2022, there were an estimated 6.2 million smokers in the UK, around 12.9% of over 18-year-olds.
And, while there are various reasons why people start smoking, one driver is a form of self-medication in order to cope with stress.
Findings from UK charity Mental Health Foundation, however, show that despite popular belief among smokers that cigarettes help them de-stress, it actually increases anxiety and tension.
Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health found that adults with depression are twice as likely to smoke compared with those without depression.
This also makes it more difficult for those suffering from depression to quit smoking and can be more susceptible to severe withdrawal symptoms.
“There are a range of different ways to effectively quit smoking,” says Julie Newman and Greg Mann, Clinical Management Coaches at Pelago, previously known as Quit Genius, a Vitality partner.
“Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the best methods and takes a therapeutic approach for treating problematic behaviours, such as smoking.
“Alongside this, motivational interviewing (MI) can also provide a client-centred approach to behavioural change, focusing on the motives and empowering the individual making a quit attempt.”
9 ways to a smoke-free life
Once you have decided that you want to stop smoking, follow these recommendations from the NHS to get your quitting journey on the road and, more importantly, make sure you stick to it.
1. List your reasons to quit
2. Tell people you are quitting
3. If you have tried to quit before, remember what worked
4. Use stop smoking aids, such as the Pelago app, Allen Carr’s stop smoking programme or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
5. Have a plan if you are tempted to smoke
6. List your smoking triggers and how to avoid them
7. Keep cravings at bay by keeping busy
8. Exercise away the urge
9. Join an online support group
Vitality makes it easier and cheaper to get healthy through discounts and rewards that motivate you to live a healthier lifestyle.
Or, after completing a Health Review, members who are recommended to start their quitting journey with Pelago (formerly known as Quit Genius) can earn 1,200 Vitality points when they complete the 12-week quitting programme.
Plus, if you confirm you are smoke-free a further 12 weeks after finishing the programme you will earn another 1,200 points.
Find out more from Vitality’s stop smoking partners and how to access the programmes by logging into Member Zone, or visit our Rewards page to discover more on how you can earn points and get more from your plan. Research was conducted for Vitality by Opinium among 1,000 UK adults in September 2023
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