This study was conducted by online vape shop Vape Club.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, it’s estimated that over the past week 1 in 6 people in the UK have experienced a common mental health problem. It’s often understated when talking about mental health that smoking rates are extremely high in people who suffer from mental health issues. In fact according to Public Health England, smoking prevalence for adults with mental health conditions is estimated to be 26.8%, almost double the national average.
Amongst the districts with highest smoking prevalence average for people with mental health conditions, Rutland (52.7%) and Blackpool (50.2%) come out on top, whilst Bolsover (8.6%) and North Hertfordshire (10.8%) are the lowest.
Public Health England recently released the Tobacco Control Plan for England report, which looks at ways to achieve a smoke free nation target by 2030, with the lack of research into smokers with mental health conditions clearly apparent.
The Quitting Smoking for Mental Health study, conducted by Vape Club, asked over 1,000 participants, mostly ex-smokers and current smokers who had been through the smoking cessation process, about their experiences. The Quitting Smoking for Mental Health study has been created to support smoking cessation whilst gaining valuable insight into the way smoking affects our mental health.
- 43.9% of ex-smokers stated that their mental health has improved since quitting smoking.
- Current smokers are more likely to quit to improve their mental health (26.6%), compared to smokers who fear the implications of Covid-19 (16.2%).
- Even without the power of hindsight, 66.2% of current smokers state that cigarettes have a negative impact on their mental health. Out of the participants who reported ‘Yes’ to smoking having a negative affect on their mental health, the following were reported as contributing factors:
Yes - though I rely on smoking to relieve my anxiety - 12.3%
Yes - though I rely on smoking for general stress relief - 25.3%
Yes - I feel there’s an increased financial pressure causing stress - 3.3%
Yes - the impact on my physical health in turn affects my mental health - 18.1%
Yes - I think smoking negatively affects my mental health - 7.1%
According to ASH (Action On Smoking & Health), cigarette users often report that smoking helps them to relieve feelings of anxiety and stress. The high smoking prevalence among people facing social and economic deprivation suggests that smoking may be used as a self-medicating method of coping with stress. It’s estimated that the NHS spends approximately £720m per year in treating smoking-related diseases in people with mental health conditions.
They also found health professionals need better information and training to support people with mental health conditions to use e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking. PHE have recently published advice on vaping in NHS mental health trusts. To promote consistency in the smoke free policy and practice across such trusts, the advice recommends being clear about where people can and cannot vape in hospital grounds and buildings.
Here at Vape Club, we know that mental health and well-being is a huge issue for many people and this is particularly apparent during the current climate. We’re committed to helping people with mental health conditions quit smoking and ultimately live a less harmful life. Alongside us in this mission are a number of mental health charities such as Nice, Rethink & The Mental Health Foundation who have provided research and analysis into the relationship between smoking and mental health.
We also think it’s vital to stick with the effort of trying to quit tobacco use. Our Quit Smoking for Mental Health study found that participants experienced a positive impact on their mental health after a 4 week period of smoking cessation (52.2%), compared to during the 4 weeks of smoking cessation (39.1%), which is an increase of 13%.
When ex-smokers, who have benefited from going through the process of quitting already, were asked ‘What would have made it easier for you to quit smoking?’, the responses were:
- 25.9% of ex-smokers called for a ban in all public places, including hospital grounds, parks, and bus stops.
- 20.3% stated that a ban on smoking on pub premises including pub gardens
- 30.3% stated that increasing the cost of cigarettes would have worked best to encourage smoking cessation
- 45% of respondents stated that greater access to vaping equipment would’ve best assisted in their smoking cessation
Additionally, and rather concerningly, many health professionals do not understand or even advocate for the use of vaping when aiming to quit smoking. A Daily Express article in April 2019 stated that ‘93% of healthcare professionals were unaware of Public Health England’s position that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.’
The Quitting Smoking for Mental Health study found that the workplace could play an important role in encouraging smoking cessation among their employees. This has not only been found to improve the well-being of employees, but it also has a positive impact on productivity.
We asked the 43.9% of ex-smokers who participated in the Quitting Smoking for Mental Health study what their companies could have done more of to help them quit smoking. They reported the following:
- 30.5% of ex-smokers stated that a ban on smoking on workplace premises would have been the greatest help for their quitting journey.
- This was followed by 32% stating that support in funding for smoking cessation tools would have further encouraged smoking cessation
- 39.1% of ex-smoker respondents stated that allowing vaping in the workplace would have helped. This was echoed by current smokers, of which 34.4% believe they would have a better chance of quitting if this was a workplace policy.
- 29% of employees stated that they have taken less time off work for mental or physical health issues since quitting smoking. 10.6% stated that they no longer take as many days off for mental health, while 18.6% have needed to take less days off for physical health issues.
- When asked about taking sick days, 22.7% of respondents stated that they now take fewer sick days off work; 14.3% for physical health issues, and 8.4% for mental health issues.
For the majority of people, mental health problems develop by the age of 24. This, coupled with the pressure to achieve academic success, is clear evidence for why university students are a group at high risk of having mental health problems. The Mental Health Foundation found in 2016 that over 15,000 first-year students in UK universities reported that they had a mental health problem, a five fold increase compared to 2006 when just 3000 students reported a mental health condition.
According to ONS (Office Of National Statistics), people aged between 18-24 in the UK have a smoking prevalence of 16.8%. Universities, as well as further education facilities, should look to offer wide-reaching mental health support programmes aimed at helping students to deal with mental health conditions as well as the stress and anxiety of university life in general. Additionally, up to date research and studies should be conducted to look into the growing problem of mental health conditions within university settings, in the hope of providing insight for future students to look upon and ultimately aid them.
Of course there is still a stigma surrounding mental health, despite many initiatives set up to tackle the issue and offer help. Fortunately, the number of organisations out there to speak to and gain the advice or help you need is forever growing. All it takes is a quick phone call or email to tell them how you’re feeling and what issues you may have.
Here are some useful contact pages which we highly recommend if you’re experiencing any difficulties with mental health:
As stated, here at Vape Club we believe mental health is very important, whilst also being huge anti-smoking advocates. Throughout the Quitting Smoking for Mental Health study, the trend of smoking tobacco and its impact on mental health has evidently had a distinct negative effect in all manner of ways. This is why we advocate for the use of vaping when trying to quit smoking, as it is twice as effective in quitting when compared to other forms of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapies) such as patches or gum.
If you’re a smoker looking to switch to vaping, our range of bundle kits are the ideal option as they feature everything you need to start vaping right away, including a vape kit and e-liquid. We also recommend you take a look through our detailed Beginner’s Guide To Vaping, which will give you a headstart and some much needed knowledge in your quest to quit smoking.
For any vaping related queries, our dedicated customer service team are on hand to answer any of your questions by phone, email or webchat.