Action on Smoking health (ASH) is an anti-smoking campaign group. The organisation is supportive of vaping and endorses e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. ASH has been gathering data on vaping since 2010 and now has very comprehensive figures. Previous pieces of research have aided in dispelling myths and have helped smokers and vapers quit smoking, which is immensely valuable for public health.
On 24th September, Ash released its annual updated fact sheet which extensively explores a number of topics. These include: e-cigarette prevalence among various smoker profiles; attitudes towards vaping and vapers’ habits.
The number of vapers in the UK still continues to grow, after hitting a surge between 2010 and 2015. 3.6 million people now vape in the UK, which equates to around 7.1% of the population. This is encouraging but it’s important to know how many of these vapers quit smoking.
54.1% of these 3.6 million current vapers are now ex-smokers. This figure has increased year on year with the number of ‘dual users’ decreasing to 39.8%. This therefore shows that e-cigarettes have helped more than 1.9 million current vapers in the UK quit smoking.
This pot of 1.9 million ex-smokers only accounts for a proportion of the success that vaping has had. A further 2.2 million ex-smokers in the UK who have previously used an e-cigarette, no longer vape or smoke. This brings us to a total of more than 4 million people who have used an e-cigarette and are now free from tobacco.
For many vapers, the journey from smoking to vaping then onto neither smoking or vaping is the desired route. Further survey results show that a significant proportion (44%) of current vapers have reduced their e-liquid nicotine strength.
The main reason that current smokers gave for trying vaping was because it would ‘just be switching one addiction to another’. However, the success from these ex-smokers and ex-vapers shows that, although you are still addicted to nicotine when you switch to vaping, you can then continue your journey and quit vaping.
With regards to never smokers who are vapers, the results are again encouraging. Just 0.8% of people who have never smoked, currently use an e-cigarette. This is a negligible figure which should continue to be monitored but dismisses the threat of the gateway theory.
Do people start vaping to quit smoking?
Unsurprisingly, given the aforementioned figures, the most popular primary reason ex-smokers gave for using an e-cigarette, is to ‘help them quit smoking’. This came out as 31% of respondents. This was followed by ‘to prevent relapse’, which was the primary reason for 20% of ex-smokers.
In terms of dual users, 21% explained that they used an e-cigarette to cut down on smoking. 16% used e-cigarettes for monetary savings and 14% of dual users were vaping to try and quit smoking entirely. For the small number of non-smokers who vape, the main reason that 78% do so is ‘just to give it a try’.
On the whole, vapers are picking up e-cigarettes for the right reasons. The vast majority are looking to either quit smoking, cut down on smoking or stop themselves from returning to smoking. These figures are very refreshing to read.
However, there are still over 7 million smokers in the UK. The survey explores why these smokers have not made the switch to vaping as almost 2 million others have.
What about the remaining smokers?
Despite the roaring success of e-cigarettes as a cessation aid, there is still a lot of work to do. In total, only 20% of the UK smoking population currently vape. This therefore means that 80% of current UK smokers are not using an e-cigarette. This equates to more than 5 and a half million people.
According to the ASH survey, misperceptions of vaping among smokers is getting worse. Less than half (48%) of smokers correctly identified vaping as being less harmful than smoking, in 2019. This is down from an already concerning 54% of smokers in 2018.
Over one third of current adult smokers have never even tried vaping. This is a huge amount of people who could be missing out on the opportunity to transform their lives. The survey looks into the reasons why they haven’t given vaping a go.
16% of this group said they ‘didn’t want to swap one addiction for another’. 11% said they ‘didn’t know enough about them’ and 9% were ‘concerned about their safety’. A further 9% said they ‘didn’t think they would help them cut down’.
Help someone quit smoking today
The aforementioned reasons are all down to a lack of knowledge. There is enough information out there to counteract these arguments, however it is getting this information into the hands of smokers which is the issue. Vaping companies cannot make health claims about their products due to them not being medically licensed. We therefore rely on health bodies and governing bodies to inform smokers of the benefits.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, has urged these smokers to give vaping a go. She said:
“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.”
You can also play your part by sharing the facts and figures with the smokers you know. Advice and guidance from friends and family who are successful vapers is very powerful. Share this article, share your experiences and share the facts to help empower smokers to transform their lives!