In 2019, around half as many Britons now vape as smoke and the majority are ex-smokers

Data published by Action on Smoking (ASH) shows that as vaping increases in the UK, traditional smoking is declining. There are now believed to be around half as many vapers as there are smokers. This equates to around 3.6 million people. The Smoking Toolkit Study undertaken by University College London (UCL) shows that adult smoking dropped 2.2% between January and July this year. That is equivalent to 200 individuals quitting smoking every hour.

Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London and lead author of the independent evidence reviews of e-cigarettes for Public Health England, commented:

“More than half of current vapers are ex-smokers compared with only a third in 2014. However, it’s important that all vapers stop smoking completely. Otherwise they are still exposing themselves to the serious risks of disease and disability caused by smoking. Vaping isn’t risk free. But it’s much less risky than smoking, which kills nearly 100,000 people a year in the UK.” 

E-cigarettes as quitting aids

E-cigarettes are now the most popular quitting aid. They are shown to be nearly twice as successful in helping smokers quit as traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy according to ASH.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH said as Stoptober began: “Although e-cigarettes are now the most popular quitting aid, our survey finds that in 2019 over a third of smokers have still never tried vaping. As Stoptober kicks off, we’d encourage smokers who haven’t done so yet, to give vaping a try. E-cigarettes have been shown to be a very effective aid for smokers trying to quit, either on their own or with help from stop smoking services.”

The effects of the US vaping crisis

Deborah Arnott also addresses on-going concerns that are directly effecting the vaping industry around the world. Deborah also notes how the industry fears many vapers may return to smoking.

“The outbreak of vaping illness in the US is obviously concerning. But it appears to be linked to the misuse of e-cigarettes for illicit drug delivery. Nothing like this has been seen in the UK to date, where a proper regulatory system is in place for nicotine containing e-cigarettes. Which is not yet the case in the US. Vapers should not be scared back to smoking by the news of vaping illness in the US. Nor should smokers stick to smoking rather than switch to vaping. It is essential however, to only use legal vapes bought from reputable suppliers in the UK and not source illicit unregulated products over the internet.”

The full study of e-cigarette use amongst adults in the UK can be read here.