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A former 50-a-day smoker says he's saved the NHS up to £500,000 by helping others kick the habit with his old vapes.
Richard Pruen chain-smoked roll up cigarettes for nearly 30 years until the 2007 smoking ban forced him to take up vaping in his work van.
By 2009 Mr Pruen had kicked the habit entirely – and claims his once chronic asthma has now been “cured”.
Now the 48-year-old approaches smokers and tries to convince them to take up vaping. Anyone who shows interest is immediately offered one of his vapes.
Mr Pruen, who currently uses a Vaporesso GEN S, said he has helped 25 people quit this way over the past decade.
The average smoker costs society £1,900 per year – meaning Mr Pruen could have saved the taxpayer up to £475,000.
Speaking ahead of the annual Stoptober campaign urging smokers to kick the habit, said: “I have tried to do my part. I believe supporting vaping is a net gain for public health. I'm glad to have helped people save their lives.”
Mr Pruen started vaping while working as a mobile service engineer for a water company because he spent such long periods driving.
He never planned to kick the habit but within months he’d cut down to just five cigarettes a day.
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In 2009 he went smoke free and claims that vaping has helped cure his once chronic asthma.
Since quitting, Mr Pruen has also cut down the amount of nicotine he uses from 18mg to just 3mg.
He also only uses it when he wants a cigarette – which is currently around twice a week.
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Mr Pruen, from Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, claims that with the device he would “almost certainly” revert to smoking.
And after singing the praises of vaping, he now donates his old vapes to any smokers trying to give up.
He said: “All the negative press is putting people off vaping. It used to be a thing being a vaper.
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“I approach smokers and try to convert them to vaping because I believe it’s a good thing.
“The documentary A Billion Lives about smoking inspired me to go out and promote vaping.
“I’ve given ex-smokers all of my old e-cigs and I’ve helped 25 people quit. Smokers cost the NHS a fortune and I’m getting to the age now where lung cancer would be a real possibility if I’d continued to smoke.
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“My father died of cancer. He was a fireman so there was an exposure to smoke but he smoked for most of his life so cigarettes probably had a lot to do with him getting cancer and dying at 70.
“It’s clearly not 100% safe but then nothing is. But I do think it gets really bad press – especially from the US.
“There should be an age limit and it should be enforced. We also have a nicotine cap in this country so you don’t get the head pop from some of the higher strength juices.
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“That’s why I started smoking at 10 because of the nicotine hit and the fact that I saw people smoking on my way to school.
“Since I’ve stopped I can taste food again, smell freshly cut grass rather than being bunged up from the tar. The doctor says he can’t tell I smoked by looking at my lungs.
“Vaping seems to have had no effect on my lung capacity. Because of my asthma my chest muscles are more developed and because I don't suffer any more I’m now better off than normal.
“I used to use an inhaler every day and I haven’t had an asthma attack since 2009.
“I used to get the flu jab free for being asthmatic now I don’t because I’m not considered asthmatic anymore.”
Simon Lai, CEO of Vaporesso, said: “I’ve quit smoking by switching to vaping after 12 years of being a smoker. Banning vaping would eliminate an important alternative method for smokers to quit smoking.”
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