Anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health has released the latest figures detailing the who, how and what of vaping in Great Britain over the last year. The widely reported headline is that the level of vaping in GB has reached its highest ever, an increase of 8.3% equating to a record 4.3 million e-cig users.
Action on Smoking and Health describes the annual survey: “The data are taken from an annual survey, Smokefree GB, carried out for ASH by YouGov in Spring each year. The survey first started asking about e-cigarette use in 2010 and this update includes the results of the 2022 survey carried out in February and March 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have affected e-cigarette use in 2021, but it is not yet clear whether any changes in attitudes or behaviour are permanent or substantial.”
Touted as a success, it is reported that 94% of smokers and 92% of the wider public have heard about e-cigarettes/vaping, but this does lead some to wonder where 6% of smokers and 8% of the public have been living for the last decade? Ten years ago, just 49% had heard about electronic cigarettes.
·11% – 18-24 year olds
·11% – 25-34 year olds
·11% – 35-44 year olds
·10% – 45-54 year olds
·9% – People aged 55
More men than women use an e-cigarette, and vapers are more likely to be working class than middle class.
Smokers and non-smokers
Good news is that the number of non-smokers taking up vaping remains at a very low level. Opponents to tobacco harm reduction used to argue that e-cigs would renormalise smoking and draw in people who otherwise wouldn’t vape/smoke. These findings prove this still isn’t happening.
“Since 2013, the proportion of current electronic cigarette users who smoke tobacco has generally fallen, while the proportion who are ex-smokers has risen.”
Action on Smoking and Health says that vaping is currently helping 2.4 million ex-smokers remain smoke free and, importantly, 2.9 million escaped tobacco addiction and now no longer vape either.
Most smokers who became ex-smokers through using e-cigs managed to do so by vaping on a daily basis.
Vaping as well as smoking has been knocked in some circles as it is argued that this demonstrates e-cigarettes are helping a complete quit from tobacco addiction. The counter to this, one that is supported by smoking cessation specialists, is that this is a doorway opening up to quitting.
Action on Smoking and Health notes that “those who vape everyday smoke on average less than those who vape less frequently than daily”, meaning that there is a process taking place leading from smoking to dual use to just vaping.
Is the decline in smoking down to e-cigarettes?
Yes, according to the charity.
“The Smoking Toolkit Study (an ongoing series of monthly surveys of the adult population of England) has shown a clear association between changes in population rates of quitting smoking and prevalence of e-cigarette use”.