Figures from the latest ONS survey of Adult Smoking Habits in Great Britain were released today and Hazel Cheeseman from ASH UK and Prof Peter Hajek from Queen Mary University of London were interviewed about the findings.
2.2 million people in the UK are now vaping, and this is the first time the figures on the use of e-cigarettes have been included in this survey.
Other highlights within the data are:
- 64% of current smokers have tried vaping, and 15% currently use vaping products
- More women vape than men (4.5% vs 4.2%)
- In men peak prevalence is among those aged between 55 and 64 (5.8%)
- In women this is younger at between 34 and 44 (6.7%)
- Only 23% of current vapers use ‘cig-a-like’ devices*
*(note it’s newer generations of products that are most likely to be adversely affected by the upcoming TPD regulations – in other words the remaining 77% of users will see a negative impact on their product choice post TPD implementation)
Prof Hajek’s comments are particularly insightful, and he correctly states three very important points that are highlighted time and time again by both consumers themselves, and the industry:
- that the figures of smokers taking up these far less harmful products may stall due to the number of negative media stories
- that some of the research being done on e-cigarettes fails to warrant the kind of headlines we’ve seen recently, and that’s often due to bad study design (we’ve written about the latest study on mice here)
- that the TPD is a hostile and misconceived move to regulate vapour products that are already regulated as consumer products :
The less encouraging figures are that there is still large numbers of smokers and non smokers who don’t realise that the relative risk of these products is far, far less than smoking, and Clive Bates has touched on this in a post today.
It is extremely unfortunate that the industry is explicitly prohibited from promoting the use of vaping for cessation and harm reduction, while the Health Service Executive and anti smoking charities and bodies could – but do not. This is despite ever increasing evidence from elsewhere in the world, and particularly England, that this is exactly what they should be doing.
Failing to do so only increases the burden of smoking related illness not just on the Irish healthcare system, but also on ordinary people and their families.