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Stoptober campaign to condone e-cigs for first time

Public Health England will not recommend products, but encourage e-cigarette users to seek advice from their local smoking cessation service

This year’s Stoptober campaign will be the first to condone using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

PHE backed the devices as potential smoking cessation tools last month, and announced today (September 3) that it will now be "supportive" of e-cigarette users who want to take part in the annual initiative.

PHE will not provide the public with advice on different e-cigarette products because it does not have a “full picture on their safety”, it told C+D. It will instead encourage people using the devices to seek “expert advice and support” from their local smoking cessation service.

Smokers wanting to take part in the campaign – which runs for 28 days from October 1 – can sign up online from today. They will be sent daily “messages of support and encouragement” from comedians Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert, Al Murray and Shappi Khorsandi via email, text and app during the initiative.

PHE’s lead pharmacist Gul Root said the public health body is “delighted” to be working with pharmacies across the country on the fourth annual campaign. Stoptober is a “great conversation starter” and a “fantastic and engaging way to discuss products, tailor advice and introduce stop smoking services”, she added.

More than a quarter of a million people signed up to Stoptober last year, with more than half of that number managing to stop smoking for 28 days.

Pharmacists wanting to get involved in the campaign can order their free Stoptober toolkit – which includes posters, leaflets and balloons – by calling 0300 123 1019. The order line will remain open until Stoptober ends on October 28.

Last month, pharmacists called for further research into e-cigarettes before PHE achieves its goal of making the devices available on prescription.

What are your views on e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools?

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