A brand new Swap to Stop scheme has been launched in Cheshire West and Chester by Via and Brio Leisure.

This partnership between Via and Brio Leisure aims to combat smoking habits among those who are getting drug and alcohol treatment.

The scheme is part of the national government vaping scheme, Swap to Stop.

Via, and Brio Leisure want to empower individuals to quit smoking, marking a significant stride towards leading healthier lives.

Statistics from 2022 count approximately 25,700 people in Cheshire West and Chester as smokers, which is around 9 per cent of the local population.

When examining those accessing drug and alcohol support, this percentage increases drastically.

Roughly 49 per cent of individuals accessing drug and alcohol treatment services in England during 2022-2023 reported pervasive tobacco smoking within the 28 days prior to treatment starting.

Addressing these figures, Cheshire West and Chester Council, in partnership with Brio Leisure, secured funding to roll out the Swap to Stop scheme.

This program is uniquely tailored to people who attend drug and alcohol services, and it is hoped it will inspire individuals to take ownership over their capacity for positive change.

Offering support, and education, the Swap to Stop scheme guides people towards taking initial, pivotal steps in their smoke-free journey by transitioning to vaping.

Eligible individuals will get a four-week refillable vape starter pack, in addition to supportive educational resources direct from their Via drug and alcohol support service.

Professor Helen Bromley, director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "Two in three people who smoke will die as a result of their tobacco use.

"Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable heart disease, stroke, cancers and respiratory illness.

"The number of people smoking is particularly high among those being treated for alcohol and drug addiction.

"This programme aims to support individuals to quit smoking through partnership working and targeting those residents most in need of support.

"We want to help all residents in the borough to be resilient and able to live their best lives."

Dave Targett, area director at Via, said: "We are very pleased to be able to offer this intervention in partnership with Brio.

"It is so very important to make the most of every contact we have with the people who use our services, to support them to establish healthy and happy lives.

"This programme will help us to do that, and the joint working is a credit to all involved."

Echoing similar sentiments, Matt Parker, managing director at Brio, said: "Brio is thrilled we have been able to collaborate with Via on the launch of Cheshire West's ‘Swap to Stop’ programme.

"This partnership is a significant step forward in our mission to reach individuals who might not traditionally access our community-based wellbeing programmes.

"By joining forces, we are committed to making a profound impact in our local communities and strengthening health outcomes.

"Together, we can support and empower more people to lead healthier lives."