Great Yarmouth smokers: Would you switch to vaping to kick the habit?

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY OCTOBER 29 File photo dated 21/02/20 of a man using a vaping product. E-cig

E-cigarettes may be prescribed on the NHS in an effort to help England become smoke-free by 2030. - Credit: PA

For smokers, kicking the habit used to mean patches, gum or just going cold turkey.

But Great Yarmouth's smokers have been offered an increasingly popular way to quit - e-cigarettes and vaping.

In the past year, Norfolk County Council - working with Smokefree Norfolk and a vape company - have given out 742 vouchers for e-cigarettes and equipment worth £20 to people looking to quit smoking, as part of a county-wide strategy.

The voucher enables adult smokers to obtain a vape starter kit which includes a vape device and juice. 

Smokefree Norfolk’s stop smoking advisors will then support them through their quit programme.

Smokefree Norfolk operations manager James Wade said: “Public Health England estimate e-cigarettes to be 95pc less harmful to health than tobacco cigarettes.

"If an adult who smokes makes the switch to an e-cigarette, they can improve the quality of their life long-term."

Paul Angel in Great Yarmouth

Paul Angel, 50, would be tempted to try vaping as a way to stopping smoking. - Credit: James Weeds

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Paul Angel, 50, has been smoking since the age of 12. 

"I smoke about 10 or 12 a day," Mr Angel said.

"I have been wanting to quit smoking and I know I should do.

"But, I've never tried. I would consider using the voucher scheme though.

"Some of my mates have stopped smoking using e-cigs.

"They say the first week was hard but it gets better."

Antonio Rodrigues in Great Yarmouth

Antonio Rodrigues, 65, has managed to quit all his vices except smoking. - Credit: James Weeds

Antonio Rodrigues, 65, has been living in the town for 20 years.

He smokes about 20 cigarettes a day.

Mr Rodrigues said: "I've been smoking since I was seven-years-old and I’m still alright.

"My lungs are like a young boy's. I have tried e-cigarettes but it didn't work for me.

"I stopped drinking, but cigarettes is all I have."

Neil Cozens with a vape device

Neil Cozens was able to quit smoking after 25 years with the help of vaping. - Credit: Supplied

Neil Cozens, 51 and from Gorleston, successfully quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes in 2014.

"I was a smoker for 25 years," Mr Cozens said.

"I tried to quit cold turkey a few times, but the best I could do was half a day."

Mr Cozens tried vaping and was able to switch from cigarettes in a month.

"The hallelujah moment was when I realised it was the nicotine I was addicted to," Mr Cozens said.

"I've now been a vaper for eight years and I've never been tempted to smoke.

"I'm too happy with my vape."

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Around 5,000 people usually quit smoking each year in Norfolk, according to Dr Louise Smith, the county's director of public health.

But that number came down to 3,840 last year, a drop she puts down to the pandemic.

"One in two people who smoke die of a disease caused by their smoking," she said.

"When we try to help someone quit smoking, we can work with someone to see whether they want to quit completely or cut down.

"Talking to people at regular intervals could help them identify things that will help them quit.

"Prescribing a replacement for nicotine can be helpful, such as patches, gum and drugs.

"Recently we've been trialling vaping."

She added: "The best option would be to quit completely but that's very difficult for many people because cigarettes are so addictive.

"There are hundreds of chemicals and poisons in cigarettes and the vast majority of those chemicals and poisons are not in vapes.

"The evidence is very strong that you will do yourself far less damage vaping than smoking."

Busy Regent Road in Great Yarmouth as people enjoy being out and about as Covid restrictions are eas

Busy Regent Road in Great Yarmouth as people enjoy being out and about as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Dr Smith said there are still some areas in Norfolk where smoking rates are much higher than the national average.

In 2019, the average number of smokers in England was 13.9pc.

In the same year, 23.4pc of Great Yarmouth adults smoked.

Dr Smith said: "A pattern seen across the country is that lower income areas have more smokers in them.

"However, anything we can do to reduce the number of smokers is still valuable.

"You can quit, but you may have to try a number of times.

"But it is possible and I would encourage people to try."

Vaping indoors

Since 2007, it has been illegal to smoke in any enclosed workplace, public building or on public transport in the UK.

However, vaping is not included in the smoking ban law - instead, it is up to business owners whether they will allow vapers to have a drag inside their premises.

John Hewitt, owner of Fish'o'licious on Regent Road said they do not allow vaping inside their restaurant.

Mr Hewitt said: "To be honest, it doesn't really happen.

"We have outside tables, so people just smoke and vape there.

"We try to balance it - if people want to vape, they can outside. Inside, with food and non-vapers, it's not really suitable."

James Bensly, owner of Hemsby's Beach Cafe, said: "I've been lucky as most vapers seem to go outside with smokers and do it there.

"It seems the social element of smoking means they go outside.

"If it did happen, I'd ask them to leave."

To be considered for the vaping voucher scheme, smokers can be referred by their GP or should complete a referral form available on the Smokefree website: https://www.smokefreenorfolk.nhs.uk/contact-us/ or by calling 0800 0854 113.