Vaping rates have risen exponentially over the past decade and have now reached record levels with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) estimating there are now 4.3 million vapers in Great Britain.
8.3% of adults use an e-cig
ASH release their ‘Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain’ factsheet annually, using data collected during the Smokefree GB survey carried out each Spring by YouGov. The survey looks at use and awareness of e-cigarettes, the attitudes towards them, and what types of devices and products are used by vapers.
The data suggests that 8.3% of adults in Great Britain vape, equating to 4.3 million people, up from 1.7% or 800,000 adults, a decade ago.
Of these 4.3 million vapers, around 2.4 million are ex-smokers, who have either used e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking or to help them maintain a previous successful quit attempt, and 1.5 million are dual users. Dual users are people who both smoke and use an e-cigarette, often this is to help them smoke less or to work on transitioning from dual use to exclusively vaping. Around 350,000 of those who report using an e-cigarette are never-smokers, but Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive at ASH, explains that vaping among this group tends to be “rare” and “experimental”.
Cheeseman expressed how positive it is to see so many people making the switch from smoking to vaping, but also identified that more action is needed if the Government hopes to be successful in reaching a smokefree future:
“[E-cigarettes] can be lifesaving tools for those struggling to quit. At the same time, we can’t rely on vaping to fully solve the problem of smoking. We must… put in place wider efforts to address smoking as vaping won’t work for everyone. The time for government action is now.”
28% of smokers haven’t tried vaping
In addition to looking at current smoking rates, the report also looks at attitudes towards vaping and the perceptions of harm.
Public Health England have found e-cigarettes to be 95% less harmful than smoking, and vaping is backed by many UK healthcare authorities as an effective stop smoking aid and harm prevention tool. However, misinformation about vaping and its harms relative to smoking still prevents many smokers from giving e-cigarettes a chance.
28% of current smokers report having never tried an e-cigarette, with 10% saying they are “concerned e-cigarettes are not safe enough”. A third of smokers incorrectly believe vaping to be more, or equally as harmful as smoking. This misinformation could be preventing many smokers from making a successful stop smoking attempt and is something that the industry, healthcare authorities, and the Government need to continue to tackle if we hope to help more smokers to quit.
E-cigarettes associated with declining smoking rates
Within the factsheet ASH also discuss whether e-cigarettes are contributing to the declining smoking rates. The short answer, yes!
In 2011 approximately 20% of adults smoked in Great Britain, equivalent to around 7.7 million smokers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic survey methodology has changed and so the 2011 rates have been compared to those of 2019, when smoking rates had fallen to 14%, or 5.7 million adults.
During this period a comprehensive approach to tobacco control has been implemented which has helped play a part in the decline in smoking prevalence. However, the Smoking Toolkit Study, an ongoing monthly survey of adults in England, shows a clear link between the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes as a stop smoking tool, and the reduction of smoking.
It is fantastic to see that vaping rates continue to grow and are contributing to the consistent decline in smoking prevalence. If you would like to find out more about how an e-cigarette could help you take a look at our handy ‘Switching made simple’ guide.
At a glance
·There are now 4.3 million vapers in Great Britain, reaching a new record high
·The Smoking Toolkit Study has identified a clear link between the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes as a stop smoking tool, and the reduction of smoking
·28% of current smokers report having never tried an e-cigarette, with a third of smokers incorrectly believing vaping to be more, or equally as harmful as smoking.