UK reaches 4 million adult vapers

The vaping market has quickly expanded to meet growing demand in recent years. More and more of us are now working on reducing our cigarette intake or giving up smoking completely. This seems to be due in part to the increased popularity of new health trends such as, clean eating, new fitness regimes and embracing wellness, which brings more awareness to the foods we consume, hobbies we partake in and the effects they have on our bodies.

A recent survey from the Office for National Statistics has found that there are now 4 million e-cigarette users in the UK, and smoking rates are at the lowest since records began!

Why are e-cigarettes becoming more popular?
The rising number of people quitting smoking is one of the main driving factors in the expansion of the vaping market in the UK. The increased awareness about health risks associated with smoking, especially among young people and females, has resulted in a decline in the number of tobacco consumers.

E-cigarettes are gaining traction as they are recognised to be a less harmful alternative to traditional tobacco products, as advised by Public Health England. As people’s lifestyles have become more focused on cleaner and healthier habits, many are choosing to move away from harmful and expensive cigarettes.

Research from the Queen Mary University of London has shown that e-cigarettes are more effective for smoking cessation than common nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine gums and patches, offering a greater chance at a successful quit attempt.

In Great Britain alone, 7.7% of adult Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) respondents in 2021 said they currently used an e-cigarette daily or occasionally. This equates to around 4 million adults, which is an increase on the estimate from 2020, where 6.4% of people reported daily or occasional e-cigarette use.

The increased cost of living has also played a part in the increase in e-cigarette users. When you consider how costly tobacco has become, and the growing number of smokers who are looking for more convenient options, e-cigarettes offer an excellent alternative. They are easily available, budget-friendly, and an effective smoking cessation tool.

Smoking rates have reached an all-time-low
The number of smokers in the UK has continued to fall in recent years, with fewer than one in seven now maintaining the habit, and the number of smokers who have quit has now overtaken the number of current smokers.

Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Lead at PHE commented:

“It is encouraging to see that the number of smokers continues to fall, a step closer to making smoking obsolete. Since the start of the pandemic we have also seen a sharp increase in smokers trying to quit.”

He does however point out the importance of using stop smoking aids like e-cigarettes as part of the quit attempt to give the best chance at success, explaining:

“Unfortunately, the biggest increase has been in people trying to quit "cold turkey", which is the least effective way. Smokers are much more likely to quit successfully if they get behavioural support and use effective nicotine replacement products.”

What the data shows
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlighted that the number of smokers in the UK has fallen to its lowest level on record, and their statisticians mentioned that vaping has played a “major role” in the decline.

New figures from the ONS show that 13.3% of people aged 18 and over in the UK smoked cigarettes in 2021, the equivalent of around 6.6 million people. This is the lowest proportion of current smokers since records began, with a “statistically significant drop” in the proportion of smokers from 14.0% of the population in 2020.

The survey also found that e-cigarette use has increased. The percentage of vapers was found to be highest among current cigarette smokers (25.3%) and ex-cigarette smokers (15.0%), with only 1.5% of people who have never smoked reporting that they currently vape.

ONS mentioned that policies associated with the tobacco control plan for England, such as increased public awareness campaigns and smoke free places, may have also contributed to decreased smoking prevalence.
In 2019 the Government set an objective for England to be smokefree by 2030, meaning less than 5% of the population smoke.

Campaigners have mentioned that radical new changes are needed to achieve this goal, such as a tax on tobacco companies to fund stop smoking services.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said:

“Smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and death so the progress shown today is great news. But government must not be complacent. They first promised to publish a new Tobacco Control Plan for England in 2021 but we still have seen no plan for how they will meet that goal. Without one we will not meet the vision of being smoke-free by 2030.”

With smoking rates at an all-time-low and e-cigarettes more popular than ever, we are one step closer to making this goal a reality and gaining a smokefree future.

At a glance
·The Office for National Statistics has found that there are now 4 million e-cigarette users in the UK
·Vaping rates have increased from 6.4% in 2020 to 7.7% in 2021
·Smoking rates in the UK are now the lowest since records began
·The number of ex-smokers has now surpassed the number of current smokers