Smokers could save around £780 a year by switching to e-cigarettes, research has found.
Ditching tobacco could, as well as reducing the risk of cancer, improve the health of someone’s wallet by saving it £13 each week.
A study revealed smokers spend around £1,200 per year on the habit, while those who vape only have to fork out £417 – almost a third of the price.
And heavier smokers could stand to save even more. The researchers’ calculations are based on an average of around six cigarettes per day.
The cash saving adds another incentive to switch away from smoking, experts said, or better yet, quit completely.
Researchers looked at survey data from hundreds of people in England to find that people who use e-cigarettes spent an average of £417 per year on their habit, compared to £1,200 per year for those who still smoked tobacco (stock image)
Scientists at University College London used data from surveys of 859 adults in England who either smoked or vaped.
Those who still used cigarettes said they spent £23.09 in an average week, while former smokers who switched to other nicotine products spent £8.59.
E-cigarettes were cheapest, costing £8.03, while other nicotine replacement such as patches or chewing gums were more expensive at £10.05 per week.
‘A third of smokers list cost as an important factor driving their desire to quit,’ said Dr Sarah Jackson, the study’s main author.
ARE E-CIGARETTES SAFE?
The NHS and the UK Government are adamant smoking e-cigarettes is safer than smoking and recommend people switch to it if they don’t feel able to quit completely.
Research has shown, however, that the gadgets are still not without their risks.
The flavourings in electronic cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the same way heart disease does, according to research published in June.
The chemicals used to give the vapour flavours, such as cinnamon, strawberry and banana, can cause inflammation in cells in the arteries, veins and heart.
This causes the body to react in a way that mimics the early signs of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, the study by Boston University found.
Other recent studies have also suggested smoking e-cigarettes could cause DNA mutations which lead to cancer, and enable pneumonia-causing bacteria to stick to the lungs easier.
Researchers at New York University subjected human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette vapor, which is marketed as being healthier than tobacco.
They found the cells mutated and became cancerous much faster than expected and mice exposed to the vapour also suffered significant DNA damage.
In another study, scientists at Queen Mary University, London, found vaping makes users more likely to catch pneumonia – just like smoking tobacco or breathing in traffic fumes.
The vapour from e-cigarettes helps bacteria which cause the condition to stick to the cells that line the airways, they said.
The effect occurs with traditional cigarette smoke and those who are exposed to air pollution high in particulates from vehicle exhausts.
‘Our study shows that if people switch completely to alternative products such as e-cigarettes or NRT, a substantial saving could be made.
‘While the absolute cost saving will vary according to individual usage patterns, we estimate that ex-smokers who have switched to e-cigarettes or NRT spend about £13-15 less per week than the average smoker.
‘The costs of these products should therefore not discourage people from using them to help them quit smoking.’
A range of e-cigarettes can be bought online on Amazon for between £11 and £30, with packs of liquid refills costing from £4 to £15 for up to 12 bottles.
While the cost may seem steeper than a pack of cigarettes at first, it quickly pales in comparison to prices as high as £12 for one pack of 20.
And the average cost revealed by UCL’s researchers wasn’t even particularly high.
Assuming someone pays around £10 per pack of cigarettes, £23 a week would only get them 40 cigarettes – six per day.
Many smoke more than this and therefore spend considerably more than £1,200 per year so stand to save more by switching.
Smoking hand-rolled tobacco was cheaper than buying cigarettes, the researchers said, but does not bring the health benefits of switching completely.
Those who use e-cigarettes, which produce nicotine without using tobacco, avoid breathing in the tar or carbon monoxide given off by smoke.
This reduces their risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease and dementia, according to experts – although long-term studies haven’t been done to assess potential harmful effects of vaping.
Kruti Shrotri, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco control manager, said: ‘Quitting smoking is the single best thing a smoker can do for their health.
‘And e-cigarettes are one of the many tools that can help.
‘We need more research to determine the long-term effects, but studies so far have shown that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco.
‘With a more affordable price tag, it’s an alternative option for smokers looking to quit and make savings.’
The research found that around a third of people trying to quit smoking used e-cigarettes, while a quarter used other nicotine replacement.
Dr Jackson and her colleagues’ research was published in the journal Addiction.