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10 July 2019, 07:08
Vape stores have opened in two NHS hospitals across Birmingham and the Black Country in a bid to help eliminate smoking.
The retail outlets, run by Ecigwizard, are based at Sandwell General Hospital, in West Bromwich, and Birmingham City Hospital, both of which are run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
The stores' openings come amid a clampdown by the trust on smoking on its grounds, with people being issued £50 fines since July 5 if they light up.
Security cameras are also being used to police smoking.
Using e-cigarettes outside is allowed, on the condition it takes place away from doorways, while smoking shelters have been converted into vaping areas.
The trust's medical director, Dr David Carruthers, said his organisation's board and clinical leaders were united in the view that eliminating passive smoking on its sites was a public health necessity.
"Every alternative is available and we ask visitors and patients to work with us to enforce these changes," he said.
"Giving up smoking saves you money and saves your health."
Joe Lucas, head of retail for Ecigwizard, said his company was "incredibly happy" to support the trust's smoke-free status.
"We are keen to offer vaping as an alternative to smoking, as a means to help people cut down or quit," he added.
E-cigarette use continues to rise, with 6.3% of British adults vaping in 2018, up from 5.5% the previous year, according to figures analysed by NHS Digital earlier this month.
Just over half (51.5%) of those vaping said it was to help them quit smoking.