Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Significant Increase in E-Cigarette Use Among Young Women in UK

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According to government data, the number of young women in the UK using e-cigarettes has tripled in the past year. Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that in 2022, 6.7% of women aged 16-24 use e-cigarettes daily, a significant increase from 1.9% in 2021. Furthermore, young women now surpass men in e-cigarette usage.

The increasing trend of young women using e-cigarettes aligns with the findings of a recent survey conducted by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK last year. The survey revealed that over one-fifth of 15-year-old girls use e-cigarettes, significantly surpassing the usage rate among boys of the same age.

The increase in e-cigarette use can be attributed to the continuous rise of disposable e-cigarettes in recent years. These products constitute the majority of e-cigarette sales and are marketed in flavors such as pink lemonade, bubble gum, and watermelon ice, which critics argue make them more appealing to young people.

Other countries have recently implemented measures to restrict sales. French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced on Sunday that the government will soon propose a national plan to ban disposable e-cigarettes.

Australia has implemented a complete ban on single-use e-cigarettes, while New Zealand has prohibited the majority of disposable e-cigarettes and implemented other measures to restrict sales to young people. Germany has banned flavored e-cigarettes, and Ireland is currently engaged in discussions regarding the prohibition of disposable e-cigarettes.

Data reveals that in the UK, young women are now more likely to use e-cigarettes than young men. The statistics indicate that among males aged 16-24, the daily usage rate of e-cigarettes stands at 3.6% with occasional usage at 8.7%. However, it is noteworthy that the occasional usage rate among young females has increased from 7.1% in 2021 to 12.2% last year.

According to the data, the proportion of young adults aged 16-24 who use e-cigarettes at least occasionally is slightly lower than one-sixth, a slight increase from one-ninth in 2021.

At the same time, the proportion of smokers has dropped to the lowest level since comparable data began. Among people aged 16 and above, only 11.2% reported smoking, which is a decrease from last year’s 12.7% and continues a downward trend that has been observed since at least 1974.

Amanda Pritchard, the Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, stated in June that 40 children in England were hospitalized last year due to “e-cigarette-related illnesses.” These illnesses include lung damage and exacerbated asthma symptoms. This figure marks an increase compared to the 11 cases reported in 2021.

Pritchard stated at the NHS ConfedExpo that using e-cigarettes “may lead to lung damage.” She further added, “It is crucial that we address this issue promptly to prevent young people from being hospitalized and avoid future health problems.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed concerns during an interview with ITV’s This Morning show in May about the potential impact of e-cigarette marketing on his two young daughters.

He stated, “We are currently contemplating ways to strengthen regulations regarding their marketing, advertising, and appearance. They seem to be targeted towards children, which is absurd. I do not want my children being drawn to such things.

Subsequently, the government has announced plans to close a legal loophole that allows retailers and marketing companies to provide free e-cigarette samples to individuals under the age of 18. As e-cigarettes are not subject to the prohibitive tobacco advertising regulations concerning free distribution, they are not considered tobacco products.

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