Vaping reaches record levels in Britain after rising rapidly over past decade, report says

Vaping has reached record levels in Britain, according to a new report. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Vaping has reached record levels in Britain with an estimated 4.3 million people being active vapers, according to a new report.

The data, shared with the PA news agency, suggests that 8.3% of adults in England, Wales and Scotland vape, up from 1.7% a decade ago, which equated to about 800,000 people.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), which complied the report, said a “vaping revolution” had taken place over the last ten years.

Of the 4.3 million current vapers, around 2.4 million are ex-smokers, 1.5 million are current smokers and 350,000 have never smoked a cigarette.

The figures also show that the proportion of current e-cigarette users who have never smoked has increased from 4.9% last year to 8.1% this year. The report's authors said this figure was an “all time high”.

What were the other main points highlighted in the report?

In 2022, 35% of current vapers also smoked, these people are sometimes referred to as “dual users”.

But among this group, those who vape daily smoke fewer cigarettes than dual users who vape less frequently.

The report, based on a YouGov survey of more than 13,000 adults from across Great Britain, found that 28% of current smokers had never tried an e-cigarette, with 10% of this group saying they were “concerned e-cigarettes are not safe enough”.

A third of adults said they believe that vaping is more, or equally as harmful, as smoking, with one in five former smokers saying they used a vape to help them quit.

But more than half (56%) of current vapers who are ex-smokers said they had been vaping for more than three years.

Vapers reported that the main reason they used e-cigarettes were for quitting smoking, to prevent them from returning to smoking and 14% said they used vapes “because they enjoy it”.

The authors suggested that younger adults are driving the increase in the disposable vapes, with 48% of 18 to 24-year-old vapers using this type of device. They found the most popular flavours were fruit, followed by menthol.

A selection of vaping products displayed in a vape shop. Credit: PA

“Over the last decade we’ve seen a vaping revolution take hold,” said Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of ASH.

“There are now five times as many vapers as there were in 2012, with millions having used them as part of a quit attempt.

“However, they haven’t worked for everyone. Just under half of smokers who have tried them have stopped using them and 28% have never tried one at all.

“Government has said that a ‘vaping revolution’ will help them meet their ambition for a smoke free country by 2030 but it won’t be enough – we need a comprehensive plan that will help all smokers.”

Earlier this year a separate report from ASH concluded that the proportion of children vaping is on the rise, with many being influenced by social media sites such as TikTok.

While it is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, the proportion of children aged 11 to 17 currently vaping has jumped from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022. ASH started its annual survey, Smokefree GB, in 2010.

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