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Smokers offered free e-cigarettes by Queen Mary University a week after Ash Wednesday

PUBLISHED: 11:00 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 13 March 2019

No Smoking Day campaign to quit the habit. Picture: Simon Rawles

No Smoking Day campaign to quit the habit. Picture: Simon Rawles

@Simon Rawles

Smokers are being offered free e-cigarette kits to help kick the habit, starting today—No Smoking Day.

Campaign by NHS Tower Hamlets over the years to help smokers quit. Picture: Kois MiahCampaign by NHS Tower Hamlets over the years to help smokers quit. Picture: Kois Miah

The kits are being given out by Queen Mary University at its ‘Quit Right’ tobacco cessation service at Stepney Green, the first clinic in the East End taking the step.

The decision to make the clinic in Stayner’s Road ‘vape friendly’ comes after research by the university found e-cigarettes were twice as effective at helping smokers to quit as nicotine replacement treatments such as patches or gum.

“Many people want to quit smoking, but find it tough,” Queen Mary’s Shamsia Begum said. “So we’re here to help. We’re urging smokers to stub out their cigarettes and become ‘proud quitters’ on No Smoking day and we’ll support those who need it.”

Anyone wanting to sign up has the option to use a vape as part of the six-to-eight week programme.

It shouldn't happen to a dog! Rooney's owner had to give up smoking at home in Bow in 2016 because the animal developed smokers' cough, but later cured by the PDSA. Picture: PDSAIt shouldn't happen to a dog! Rooney's owner had to give up smoking at home in Bow in 2016 because the animal developed smokers' cough, but later cured by the PDSA. Picture: PDSA

The highest rate of smoking in London is recorded by Tower Hamlets Council at one-in-five of the population.

So the health campaign is targeting all smokers—pregnant women, ethnic groups with high rates of smoking, those in routine and manual jobs, those on low income and people with mental health issues.

A trial involving 900 smokers carried out at Queen Mary’s found 18 per cent of e-cigarette users had kicked the habit after a year, compared to 10pc using other therapies.

Prof Peter Hajek, who led the trial, admitted: “Health professionals have been reluctant to recommend using e-cigarettes as therapy because of lack of evidence. This is now likely to change.”

E-cigarette devices let smokers inhale nicotine which is said to be 95pc safer than tobacco. They work by heating and creating a vapour from a solution containing nicotine and other ingredients to produce vapour and flavourings.

There is no smoke, so there is no burning involved.

The first No Smoking day was appropriately on Ash Wednesday in 1984, the start of Lent, but now takes place each year on the second Wednesday in March. Ash Wednesday this year was March 6, marking 46 days to Easter.

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