By Tom Connell
Smokers trying to kick the habit during the ‘Stoptober’ campaign this month are being warned that using e-cigarettes is not the answer.
About 2.8 million adults in the UK are using e-cigarettes, according to a You Gov survey – but experts say the long term impact on health is unknown.
Sue Sear, regional leader of Smoke Free Life North Yorkshire, said: “If you use them properly over a 12 week period to help you give up then they are good, but a lot of people using them don’t stop.
“There is no evidence about what long term effects they might have. It could be several years before we find out.”
On the NHS’s ‘smokefree’ webpage e-cigarettes are listed as one method of giving up smoking. Public Health England says that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than ordinary cigarettes but because they have only been in use for a relatively short period of time research is limited.
Adele Pitchers, 45, from Pocklington is attempting to kick the habit this month and is using an e-cigarette as a quitting aid.
She said: “It’s brilliant. I’ve tried everything before and nothing has helped, but so far so good.”
However, she admitted she has been smoking the e-cig even more than she smoked cigarettes.
“Campaigns like ‘Stoptober’ are good because you have a support network of others and using an e-cigarette can help manage cravings but they should be used properly to get yourself off then stop completely,” she said.
‘Stoptober’, a month long challenge encouraging smokers to abstain during October, originated in 2012. Public Health England claim that if smokers can successfully ditch cigarettes throughout the campaign they are five times more likely to quit for good.
Janet Watson, 75, from Market Weighton quit after 50 years of smoking during last year’s ‘Stoptober’ campaign without using an e-cigarette, and said she would advise against it.
“I had to stop to keep my car on the road – I couldn’t afford both. If people want to stop they will, these e-cigarettes are just attracting more people to smoking,” she said.
However, a Public Health England report said the percentage of people smoking in England has gone below 17 per cent for the first time. Yorkshire and Humber is one of the regions with the fastest falling figures – dropping from 21.9 per cent to 18.6 per cent.
Despite her concerns Sue Sear recognised that e-cigarettes have had a positive impact when it comes to helping people stop.
She said: “Anything that helps people stop is good news.”
Anyone in North Yorkshire who is taking part in the annual ‘Stoptober’ campaign can call Smoke Free Life North Yorkshire for free support on 0800 246 5215.