Louise Ross retired in 2018 as the manager of the Leicester, England, Stop Smoking Service, but continues to be active in tobacco harm reduction. The Leicester stop smoking service was the first in the country to go ‘ecig-friendly’ on No Smoking Day 2014.
She now works as Business Development Manager for the Smoke-Free app Smoke Free – Quit Smoking Now which includes managing the expert team of advisors who offer live on-demand support to smokers who want to quit, whether this is with traditional products, vaping, novel nicotine products or no products at all.
She also works as a freelance consultant for the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training NCSCT – National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training where many tobacco harm reduction resources can be found (see the NCSCT YouTube channel)
Louise is the Vice-Chair and Mental Health Lead for the New Nicotine Alliance Home – New Nicotine Alliance UK
“One of the most important aspects for us in this developing field of harm reduction has been to listen to people when they tell us what worked for them. At the same time as being appalled at how readily, deviously and arrogantly some commentators and researchers have undermined the public’s confidence in vaping, we hear daily from people who desperately wanted to stop smoking that this worked for them, and that’s what they want to use. If this revolution is to be maintained and expanded, organisations with power and influence need to stop sabotaging it
It was plain to see that here was a way of unleashing the potential of an exciting new way to give smokers clean nicotine. We could get this technology into the hands of families who had to raid their kids’ money-boxes for the cash to buy food that day, the ones who despite getting breathless just climbing stairs couldn’t stop lighting up, the couples with a new baby who chain-smoke while they gaze lovingly at their new-born and the people who think they will be the lucky ones who don’t get cancer.
What are the vaping research priorities? Have your say… February 2019 (survey here)
This exercise is about inviting, prompting and encouraging people from a diverse range of backgrounds to say, very simply, what questions they want to see answered by research.
Look back, but looking forward too, March 2018 (marking Louise’s retirement).
I will always challenge those who take the moral stance over this. ‘It’s OK to use one to stop smoking, as long as they come off that too as soon as possible.’ No, it’s none of your business how long someone chooses to use nicotine for, just like no one wags a finger at your caffeine use. (‘Oh, I have to have four strong espressos before I can start work’ – so your addiction is cool, theirs needs remedial treatment.)
The key difference that we see among service users who have switched to vaping though is their increased confidence in their determination never to smoke again. Most have tried many, many times before, with medicinal products, or by willpower alone, and have relapsed to smoking. Vaping has made a difference that has taken them (and often their families) by surprise.
When horror pictures top-trump evidence: a lose-lose situation, Counterfactual, March 2016.
“A cadre of health professionals had been misled by clichés and wild propaganda points into rejecting something we know could really help their patients …
Alternatives to smoking, Nursing in Practice, February 2016.
“One of the biggest concerns among respected tobacco control and public health experts7 is that the public are being misled by scare stories into thinking that vaping is more hazardous than smoking. Therefore, to support nurses to contribute to public confidence in the use of clean nicotine-delivery devices, here is an A-E-I-O-U on how to discuss e-cigarettes with patients – Advice, Encouragement, Information, Opportunity, Understanding.
The antipathy towards nicotine needs to stop if we are to help smokers quit. That nicotine can be enjoyed safely is an uncomfortable concept to many, and is arguably at the heart of this debate. Demonised for decades because it was an integral component of a deadly product, combustible cigarettes, nicotine has been likened more recently not to cocaine but to caffeine  in terms of its addictive properties. […] There really are no more excuses for healthcare professionals to be dismissing e-cigarettes outright and scaring people about them unnecessarily. The sooner we embrace this new technology, more smokers will benefit from leaving cigarettes behind.
What does ‘ecig-friendly’ really mean? – Counterfactual blog posting, July 2015.
“Recently I’ve thought of the advisor/service user relationship more like a coach with a sportsman or woman in training – the coach is there to help set goals, to improve performance, to urge on, to get the person back on track when they despair. Mostly, though, a coach can see the desire for success in their trainee’s eyes, and they don’t deter them or send them away saying they can’t help them. An e-cig-friendly stop smoking team will welcome anyone who wants to stop smoking, and they will work with them, listen to them, encourage them, and respect them. It’s the way of the future.
Why shouldn’t people with poor mental health have the same opportunities as everyone else? – Counterfactual blog post, April 2015
The main aim though, it must be remembered, is to give people with poor mental health the same opportunities as those in the general population – a chance to stop using smoked tobacco (which harms health and can take up almost all the disposable income of people with mental health problems). We know there are other Trusts wanting to know how it goes, and I’m proud that we can show the way.
Whose health are we talking about? – Counterfactual blog post, October 2014
Somewhere, something has gone terribly wrong, and the opportunities presented by alternative nicotine delivery devices, so promising earlier in the year, have been casually damaged by a risk-averse body of people whose responsibility it is to improve health, and by a section of the media industry that sells more papers by frightening people.
Let there be light! Guest blog from stop smoking service manager – Counterfactual blog post, February 2014
We ran a hugely successful E-cig Learning Forum in January, and one of the highlights was a Vapers’ Panel, where Leicester vapers told the audience about their experiences, and answered a bombardment of questions from the floor. At the start, we did a polarisation check – how many of the 100 attendees were broadly in favour, broadly against, broadly on the fence. It was about a third for each. We did it again at the end, and almost all the audience voted in favour.
GFN 2020 – Michael Russell Oration – June 2020
GFN Dialogues – April 2017
Ross Manager of Leicester City Stop Smoking Service speaking at the GFN Dialogue at Leicester Tigers Rugby Club.
Global Forum on Nicotine – June 2015
Louise Ross from Leicester Stop Smoking Service talking to Kevin Molloy about the success of using e-cigs in smoking cessation.
Leicester vapers talk about quitting with e-cigarettes
Ordinary Leicestershire people discussing their experiences of quitting smoking using e-cigarettes
E-cigarette summit – November 2014
(NB. embed not permitted)