Number of vapers in Great Britain has quadrupled since 2012

Collection of e-cigarettes on a table

The number of vapers in Great Britain has reached an estimated 3.2 million in 2018, compared with 700,000 in 2012, according to figures from an Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) survey.

Of this number of vapers, approximately 1.4 million (44%) are smokers who also vape, 1.7 million (52%) are ex-smokers and 100,000 (4%) are ‘never tobacco’ smokers.

According to the report, which collates the results of the ASH Smokefree survey on the use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain, smoking cessation is the main reason given by current vapers for use of e-cigarettes, followed by trying to cut down the amount of cigarettes smoked and trying to save money.

The proportion of ex-smokers who vape has risen year-on-year from 1% in 2012 to 10% in 2018.

“UK policy is on the right track, with thousands of smokers making the switch to vaping and improving their health, and little sign of non-smokers taking up vaping,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH.

“But even more smokers could benefit if e-cigarettes were licensed as medicines and available on prescription.”

The report highlights that awareness of e-cigarettes is now widespread among adults — 94% of tobacco smokers and 93% of the general population had heard of e-cigarettes, according to the 2018 survey. This contrasts with 2012, when 49% of adults responding to the same question said they had never heard of e-cigarettes.

But, according to ASH, public perceptions of harm from e-cigarettes remain inaccurate, with just 17% of respondents correctly stating that e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than smoking. The proportion of the adult population who believe that e-cigarettes are as harmful, or more harmful, than smoking nearly quadrupled, increasing from 7% in 2013 to 26% in 2018.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2018, Vol 301, No 7917;301(7917):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205466

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