November 30, 2023
In its recent annual report, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) disclosed the latest statistics on e-cigarette use in the UK, revealing that vaping has facilitated 2.7 million individuals in quitting smoking.
Vaping as a Smoking Cessation Tool:
- The number of adult vapers in Great Britain has notably surged to 4.7 million, witnessing an increase from 4.3 million in 2022 and 3.3 million in 2020. Impressively, 57% of these vapers, totaling 2.7 million people, have successfully transitioned from smoking. This indicates a significant rise from 2.5 million in 2022, showcasing the positive impact of vaping on smoking cessation. However, it's crucial to recognize that this figure doesn't include ex-smokers who have quit vaping as well.
- While this trend is encouraging, it's important to note that many vapers might still be dual-users, engaging in both vaping and smoking. Approximately 1.7 million individuals fall into this category. Although quitting smoking is the optimal health choice, reducing cigarette consumption can still bring benefits. Often, individuals in the initial phase of adopting vaping continue to smoke alongside before eventually shifting entirely to vaping.
Challenges and Opportunities:
The UK government's goal for the nation to be smoke-free by 2030 emphasizes the need to promote vaping, a highly effective smoking cessation tool. Notably, 27% of smokers in Great Britain (1.8 million people) have not yet tried e-cigarettes, representing a missed opportunity for public health.
Reasons Smokers Haven't Tried Vaping:
- Concern about substituting one addiction for another: While vaping is nicotine addictive, it's substantially less harmful than smoking. Nicotine levels in e-cigs can be gradually reduced, facilitating eventual quitting.
- Safety concerns: Vaping products in the UK adhere to strict regulations, limiting harmful additives and controlling aspects like bottle sizes and nicotine strength. Despite media sensationalism, vaping is 95% safer than smoking.
- Doubtful about effectiveness: Vapes are twice as effective for quitting as other Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs). While not a guaranteed success, they stand out as the most effective aid.
- Lack of knowledge: Misleading media headlines overshadow the plethora of information on vaping's benefits compared to smoking. Clear and reliable guidance is essential to help smokers make informed decisions.
- Cost concerns: Vaping is substantially cheaper than smoking, potentially saving up to £3200 per year. Starter kits are available at affordable prices, making it a cost-effective alternative.
Perceptions and Challenges:
- Misconceptions persist among smokers, with 39% wrongly believing vaping is as harmful or more harmful than smoking. Additionally, 25% are uncertain about the comparative harm. Smokers' perceptions are critical, and addressing misconceptions is vital for encouraging the transition to vaping.
- While vaping has played a significant role in helping 2.7 million quit smoking, there's a need for continued efforts to dispel myths, provide accurate information, and promote vaping as a viable and less harmful alternative to smoking.
Action on Smoking Health. (2023). Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain.
NHS. Vaping to quit smoking.