Leaving no smoker behind: Smoking behaviour and e-cigarette use in homeless smokers

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Background: Smoking remains one of the most avoidable causes of premature death in the UK.  Encouragingly, smoking rates are now at an all-time low and although rates continue to decline, smoking rates in the UK’s most deprived communities remains high.

Aim: As part of a multi-stage targeted project, ‘Leaving No Smoker Behind’, this study aims to address the growing problem of health inequalities and smoking related diseases in one of the UK’s poorest groups, homeless individuals. To achieve this, we have linked up with homeless support centres around the UK to provide tobacco harm-reduction at a point already being regularly accessed by people experiencing homelessness, (no-fixed address, temporary accommodation, rough sleepers).

Method: Questionnaire data is currently being collected at homeless service centres across the UK (London, Edinburgh, Northampton & Canterbury) capturing evidence on smoking behaviour, self-reported nicotine dependence, willingness/desire to quit, knowledge of e-cigarettes, and willingness to try a free of charge e-cigarette or NRT.

Findings: Emerging data suggests at least 2/3rd of participants are willing to try an e-cigarette if freely available, would access smoking cessation support if available at their service centre and are aware of the benefits of switching to an e-cigarette. Barriers to service use and harm reduction are being identified as, i) no vape policy within service centres, ii) high nicotine dependence amongst service users, iii) poor history of quit attempts, iii) poly-drug use.


Dr Allison Ford, University of Stirling. Professor Ann McNeill, National Addiction Centre, Kings College London and UKCTAS. Professor Linda Bauld, University of Stirling, CRUK and UKCTAS. Dr Lynne Dawkins, Centre for Addictive Behaviour Research, London South Bank University.

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest


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Dr Sharon Cox