Blog: Talking About Leicester – Leading the Way on Ecigs

LouiseRossDesk

Last Tuesday, I was tired and wanted to go home at the end of the working day and watch Emmerdale. However, I’d just read Lorien Jollye’s blog, where she describes how she juggles a demanding home life with an even more demanding role as an unpaid advocate for better health through switching from smoking  to vaping.

She was going down to the House of Commons to speak at an All Party Parliamentary Group about ecigs, and she had invited me.

Inspired by her energy and her ability to summon up energy from seemingly nowhere, I hurried to the station and arrived at Westminster in time for what turned out to be a really worthwhile meeting, chaired by Mark Pawsey MP, who has taken a particular interest in the subject.

The room was packed, and we discussed the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) and the legal challenge presented by Totally Wicked, the newly published Quality Standards for the manufacture of ecigs and the frequent knee-jerk reaction of comprehensively banning vaping in workplaces (including Parliament offices!), despite the fact that a sensible negotiated compromise, based on etiquette rather than spurious health fears, could actually help people switch from smoked tobacco to the use of a much safer product, as described here

I was able to discuss what happens in Leicester – we were the first ecig-friendly stop smoking service and the group was pleased to hear that a full year’s data and learnings were available from stop@leicester.gov.uk especially as success rates for people using ecigs (with or without NRT) show an increase of around 13% above average.

It’s been tremendously exciting talking about Leicester at a wide range of events, and to different audiences. Two weeks ago I was on a plane up to Edinburgh to speak to all the Scotland stop smoking services, the week before I was in Manchester with Lorien, Dave Dorn and Sarah Jakes – members of the New Nicotine Alliance – and some of my lovely team for the national smoking cessation conference, UKNSCC and before that in Warsaw, at the Global Forum on Nicotine.

In case you think my world is one long fun-fest, travelling from one city to another, let me assure you that I do get other work done too! Our team is passionate about helping local people stop smoking, and just as I’ve sat at my desk writing this, my colleague Caz has been taking calls from people who have decided now is the time when they want to make a complete break from smoking. Listening to the call, I could hear that it was an older person who was suffering from emphysema. She said she had tried to stop before, years ago. Caz told her that things have come on a lot since then, and that we’ve got lots of choices to offer her. They agreed an appointment at a clinic near where she lives, and she said she might bring her husband along – two for the price of one!

I read a blog by a commentator this week who slates us for being nannying busybodies who force people to stop smoking. Let me make this point; the people we see have often been smoking all their adult lives and they have come to the point when they really, really want to stop. They’re sick of spending a large proportion of their income on cigarettes and they’re often devastated by a relative getting ill with a smoking-related illness.

What they get from us is really is similar to coaching; formulating a plan for success. We give weekly support and stop smoking treatments. If people want to use ecigs, we’re very pleased to support them too.

People who have been thinking about stopping smoking may also be interested to know that we are running a Trial of E-Cigarettes, as part of a bigger study conducted by Queen Mary University London. If anyone wants to know more about who can enrol, and what it involves, just call us on 0116 454 4000.

Leicester is a great place to work, and what the Stop team does at work can make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of local people. So whether I’m talking up Leicester in the House of Commons, or in Warsaw, or on home ground at the Peepul Centre, I’m proud to say that Leicester is leading the way.

– by Louise Ross, Stop Smoking Service Manager

Contact Louise by emailing Louise.Ross@leicester.gov.uk or follow @grannylouisa on Twitter.