Quitting smoking is never easy. Governments around the world have been trying to convince smokers in their countries to quit smoking through various tobacco control measures. Out of all these cessation methods the UK has embraced vaping, with many smokers favouring it over other alternatives.
While Public Health England stands by its advice that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, several other organisations have also shown their faith. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a public health charity, in its recent survey has found that vaping is helping smokers in the UK to kick the habit.
Summary of Key Findings in the ASH Survey
The survey was conducted on 12,808 adults in Great Britain between February 2020 and March 2020, and the results were published in October 2020. Below are the key findings from the survey.
E-cigarette Landscape in the UK
As per the survey conducted in 2020, there are 3.2 million vapers in the UK out of which 58.9% are ex-smokers (up from 54.1% in 2019), and 38.3% are dual users i.e., vapers who smoke (down from 39.8% in 2019). Only 2.9% are people who never smoked before starting vaping (down from 6.1% in 2019).
*Graph sourced from the ASH survey in October 2020.
The above statistics clearly indicate that the number of smokers who switched to vaping has increased in the last year and at the same time the number of dual users has reduced, which means that more smokers have switched to vaping. In addition, the number of new vapers who were not previously smokers has also reduced by more than half, which means that the non-smoking population is not taking up vaping at large.
E-cigarette Use And Awareness
Since measurement started in 2012, both awareness and use of e-cigarettes has gone up significantly. In 2012, only 49% of people knew about e-cigarettes, while in 2019, 94% of people knew about their usage. Similarly, there were only 700,000 vapers in 2012, which grew to 3.6 million in 2019. However, in 2020, the numbers dropped for the first time and reached 3.2 million vapers.
Number of E-cigarette Users in Great Britain
Number of Vapers
Rate of Growth
*Table sourced from the ASH survey in October 2020.
Are E-cigarettes Contributing To Decline In Smoking?
Vapers cite three main reasons for vaping, aid to quitting (30%), preventing relapse (20%), and to cut down their number of cigarettes (11%). In the Annual Population Survey, it was found that the number of smokers has dropped by 5.9% from 2011 to 2019, which is equivalent to 2 million smokers.
While the government cites various reasons such as the tobacco ban, health warnings, smaller pack sizes, high taxes on tobacco products, etc. for the decline, the role of vaping is prominent and cannot be ignored. A casual estimate by the Smoking Toolkit Study (an ongoing study in the UK), in 2017 said that vaping was responsible for around 70,000 smokers kicking the habit. In addition, we have seen above how vaping has helped 58.9% (nearly 2 out of 3) smokers to quit the habit.
If you are planning to make a switch to vaping, we suggest you go through our guidance section. It has all the necessary information that will help you to choose a device that suits your needs.