VAPING has helped to slash smoking numbers by 1.6 million in six years, an official report has revealed.
The impressive new figures show as the number of vape users have risen in Britain, a million and a half tobacco smokers have kicked their deadly habit for good.
Experts believe the drop in smokers and rise in e-cigarette users is also due to the UK having a pro-vaping government with its National Health Service encouraging smokers to make the switch to vaping when offering advice on cessation aids.
According to the report published by the Office of National Statistics this week, 6.1 million, or 15%, of adults in England used tobacco in 2017 – down from 7.7 million, or 20%, in 2011.
And there are now 2.8 million vapers after 5.5% of adults said they used an e-cig in 2017 – up from 3.7% when records started in 2014.
Health officials in the UK have now tentatively confirmed the UK is winning the war on tobacco as more of its population is continuing to turn to e-cigarettes.
“Smoking rates have dropped by almost a quarter in five years, a triumphant step in eliminating the nation’s biggest killer,” said Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England (PHE).
He added: “The data shows we are winning the war on tobacco and we are tantalisingly close to creating the first-ever smoke-free generation in England.”
The figures also revealed in more detail that around 13,000 have given up the habit in Wales, as rates dropped from 16.9 in 2016 to 16.1 per cent in 2017.
In Scotland, smoking rates plummeted to 16.3 per cent from 17.7 in the same time frame, suggesting around 41,000 quit the bad habit, while in Northern Ireland data shows rates have dropped from 18.1 to 16.5 per cent – the equivalent of 17,000 giving up smoking.
Around 7.7 million people in England classified themselves as smokers in 2011, but the rate has been steadily declining ever since, to around 6.1 million in 2017.
The new ONS report comes nearly a year after the UK Government announced its ‘Tobacco Control Plan’ last summer to cut rates to below 12 per cent in England as it said the country can become ‘smoke-free’.
Under the plan, local areas have been encouraged to develop their own control strategies and there is now a focus on using e-cigarettes and other stop-smoking devices.
James Dunworth, Chairman of the firm E-cigarette Direct, said this was more bad news for the tobacco industry.
“A 17% fall in the number of smokers since 2014 is encouraging news for everyone and shines a spotlight on the downward pressure faced by big tobacco,” he said.
“These tobacco companies are extremely worried and are spending huge money desperately searching for ways to keep themselves relevant. Currently, it must be said, without much success.”
He added: “As e-cigs have become popular, smoking rates have fallen. The trend is only going one way.”