⚡️WILL THE UK BE SMOKE-FREE BY 2023? | Free vapes and cash incentives to quit: Will Godfrey examines the UK's latest stop-smoking efforts⚡️
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Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 1:47 - Flavour bans off the table 2:49 - UK policy faces criticism 3:46 - Closing remarks
Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Today we will
be speaking with Will Godfrey of Filter about an exciting new plan in the United Kingdom.
Will, what's been happening?
Hi Joanna. Yes, on April 11th the UK government announced a set of policies meant to pursue
its stated goal of making the country smoke-free by 2030, meaning a smoking rate of under 5%.
The most eye-catching element is a plan to distribute free vape starter kits to one million
people who smoke in England. As Kieran Sidhu wrote in Filter, nothing like this has ever
been done on such a scale and the move solidifies the UK's reputation as a world leader in tobacco
harm reduction. If implemented as promised, this represents an incredible opportunity
to encourage mass switching to safer alternatives. Local authorities will be invited to participate
in the first wave of the scheme and they'll be able to decide who to prioritise. We know
that lower income, marginalised communities have the highest smoking rates. Additionally,
local incentives of up to £400 in vouchers will be offered to people who quit smoking,
including switching to vapes during pregnancy. This expands on local pilot schemes like one
in East Cheshire that Filter previously reported on. Contingency management, as the model is
known, has shown success with other drugs and the smoking in pregnancy pilots have clearly
been judged successful.
What other policies were included?
According to the government, mandatory inserts with positive messages and information to
help people quit smoking will be placed in cigarette packs, which on the face of it sounds
more constructive than graphic warning labels. But part of the good news is what the government
didn't do in following up from the calm review it commissioned last year. As advocate Clive
Bates told Kieran, it avoided pointless or counterproductive gesture policies like bans
on flavours or bans on disposables, which could have resulted, he suggested, from policy
makers, quote, losing their minds over youth vaping. Despite the UK broadly welcoming vapes,
media and political alarm around youth use, which is all too familiar here in the United
States, has been rising, although daily vaping among youth who've never smoked remains rare.
The policy announcement does also include an enforcement squad meant to, quote, tackle
illicit vapes and underage sales.
Have there been any criticism of the policy?
Of course, anti-vaping campaigners will oppose it. But Debra Arnott, chief executive of Action
on Smoking and Health, would have liked to see more done. Vapes increase smokers' chances
of successfully quitting, as do vouchers for pregnant smokers. So these are welcome steps
in the right direction, she told the BBC, but they are nowhere near sufficient. Only
about 20% of people who smoke in England, it should be noted, will receive the vape
kits. That's assuming the policy is implemented as promised. Still, Clive said, all in all,
it seems like a good day for health and health disparities in England. Well over four million
people in Britain vape, most of whom have switched entirely from cigarettes, and it
will be fascinating to see how quickly their numbers rise after this move. It's critical,
I think, that the rest of the world pay attention.
Thank you Will. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our GFN
TV Podcast. And don't forget to book your place at GFN 23 to join in the discussion
yourself. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.