Smokers who visit accident and emergency departments are being given e-cigarette “starter packs” to help them quit as part of a new trial.
The study, which aims to recruit around 1,000 patients, will run over 30 months across five hospitals in England and Scotland and will see smokers given quitting advice along with the e-cig kit.
It follows new research by the University of Oxford which showed that nicotine electronic cigarettes could increase the number of people who stop smoking compared to nicotine replacement therapy – such as chewing gum and patches – and electronic cigarettes that do not contain nicotine.
Professor Caitlin Notley, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, which is leading the study, said: “Many people who smoke want to quit, but find it difficult to succeed in the long term.
“Electronic cigarettes mimic the experience of cigarette smoking because they are hand-held and generate a smoke-like vapour when used. They can be an attractive option for helping people switch from smoking, even if they have tried and failed in the past.
“We know that they are much less harmful than smoking tobacco, and that they have been shown to help smokers quit.”
The new trial will offer e-cigarettes to patients attending A&E departments “for any reason” to try to encourage and support them to quit smoking – even for those who might not have considered it before.
The hospitals involved include Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Royal London Hospital and Homerton University Hospital in London, Leicester Royal Infirmary and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.