After the E-Cigarette Summit and the Maudsley update of 2014 it was evident from the research presented that e-cigs were not only the chosen product that smokers were engaging with to help them become smokefree but we now had enough evidence to say that they were effective.
In Bristol like the rest of the country we were facing a significant and ever decreasing decline in smokers making a quit attempt through our services and I knew that we had to change our service into an ecig friendly if we wanted to engage with them.
I turned to Twitter and found a huge welcoming community of vapers and professional academics that were ever ready to speak, meet and tweet with me to help us on this journey.
Smokefree Bristol is at least 90% commissioned out to GP and pharmacy providers. If we were to truly become and ecig friendly service we absolutely had to bring all our advisers up to date.
I got in touch with Lorien and Sarah from the NNA to see if they could come and be our guest speakers for the two workshops that we were putting on. I was hesitant to ask only because of the great distances they had to travel, but they were brave enough to face the stupid o clock in the morning trains they needed to take from Cornwall and Billericay! We were also joined by one of our invaluable vaper volunteer who travels all the way from Gloucester to help and guide us, John Summers.
The workshop was put on over a lunchtime. We had 1.5 hours to: explain the rational for becoming an ecig friendly service, present the data from the PHE report, describe what an ecig friendly service looked like, (my session); hear first hand a vaper's story, what vaping is and all the different types of e cigs that are out there and how they work including puffing techniques, ( Lorien/ Sarah's session) get up close and personal with an ecig + Q&A session with vapers ( John, Lorien and Sarah) and finally case studies, (smokefree Bristol team).... It was a huge ask, but with the help of Sarah, Lorien and John and my colleagues we accomplished all of the above.
The evaluations asked advisors not only to rate what they thought of all the sessions but it also captured how confident they felt about this topic pre and post the session. Their feedback showed significant increases in knowledge regarding ecigs, confidence in supporting and speaking to patients about ecigs.
Both sessions were a huge success and many advisers left commenting on how much they had needed this session and how much they enjoyed getting up close and personal with the devices them selves and being able to ask their questions to the vaping experts.. We even had a few that tried zero nicotine e liquid to have an idea of the experience of vaping!
I am thrilled that the majority of our advisers came and that our team have already suggested to have some more dates in the spring for the advisers that couldn't make or just for advisers who want to spend more time going through their cases with a vaping specialist.. So watch out NNA.. We will be calling on you and your volunteers again :)
Wishing you all a happy Christmas and a vaping new year and because of your help I'm hoping that more stop smoking services in Bristol will be giving our smokers the possibility of a vaping new year as well!