SMOKERS in the UK are turning to e-cigarettes in their droves – with the number of vapers topping 3 million.
New figures show e-cigarettes users have quadrupled in the country in just five years with an estimated 3.2 million vapers compared to just 700,000 in 2012.
The results of the new survey for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) published today (Tuesday) is further proof the gap in the number of people using e-cigarettes compared to tobacco is closing, with the number of smokers in the country currently estimated at 7.4 million.
YouGov surveyed over 12,000 adults for ASH, with a further analysis by King’s College London, who went on to estimate that there are now 3.2 million vapers in Great Britain. Of those, over half have quit smoking and 40% are current smokers who are trying to quit.
Despite the rapid growth from an estimated 700,000 vapers in 2012, there still remains a group of smokers who appear to be unwilling to try e-cigarettes as a way of giving up smoking.
Around a third of smokers say they have never tried an e-cigarette, with some of the top concerns being the falsely held belief that vaping as bad as smoking.
The proportion of smokers who have tried e-cigarettes has been relatively stable since 2015, prior to this it increased rapidly. In 2015 there was also an increase in smokers’ perceptions of harms from e-cigarettes, with 16% of smokers wrongly believing they were as or more harmful as smoking compared with 10% in the year before.
False perceptions of harm have increased since then, with the percentage of smokers who now believe vaping is as harmful or more harmful as smoking now at 22%. However, in 2018 there has been an increase in the percentage of smokers who correctly believe vaping to be less harmful than smoking, at 27% in 2018 compared with 22% in 2017.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH said in a news release by the action group :“UK policy is on the right track with thousands of smokers making the switch to vaping and improving their health and little sign of non-smokers taking up vaping. But even more smokers could benefit if e-cigarettes were licenced as medicines and available on prescription.”
Dr Leonie Brose, King’s College London added: “The continued false belief among some smokers that vaping is as bad as smoking is worrying. Campaigns from Public Health England and others to challenge these views are important and must continue.”