E-cigarette usage increases whilst the number of smoker’s declines
The Office of National Statistics have released new data revealing a significant decline in the number of smokers over the last five years in Britain along with evidence suggesting the daily number of cigarettes consumed has also fallen. It now means that the number of smokers in Britain has reached its lowest point since records began in 1974, whilst e-cigarette usage increases as product lines develop and new eliquid brands enter the market.
This comes with over a million people saying they have been or currently are using e-cigarettes to help them quit, now in contrast to the more recent study by Mintel this data was collected between 2010 and 2015 where the number of smokers has declined from 20.1% to 17.2%, as opposed to the more recent 2016 study.
Yet it is suggested that people’s opinions of e-cigarette safety are declining despite evidence suggesting e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, more people than ever believe them to be just as harmful. This probably comes down to the unremitting conflicting reports released on a daily basis scrutinising any evidence supporting the devices, most recently The World Health Organisation has expressed concern over e-cigarettes which completely contradicts Public Health England who has said vaping may be 95% safer than smoking tobacco. Such uncertainty will only increase the number of sceptics and doubters out there even as more refined and scrutinised products enter the market such as Aspire’s latest addition the Nautilus 2.
With this said the data does not lie, it shows that 2.3 million people were e-cigarette users in England, Scotland and Wales in 2015, about 4% of the population, bolstered by the array of products available from brands such as Element E-Liquids who have developed vast product ranges to appeal to the wider population. Their survey also shows that 4 million more people describe themselves as former e-cigarette users. A further 2.6 million say they have tried them but not gone on to use them regularly. Half of the 2.3 million who were current users of e-cigarettes at the time of the survey said they were doing it to quit smoking. A further 22% said they were vaping because it was less harmful than smoking. Only 10% said they chose to vape because it was cheaper than buying cigarettes. Others – 9% – said they used e-cigarettes mainly because they were permitted indoors, which may in the near future change anyway.
It is becoming clear that more and more evidence is pointing towards a larger uptake of e-cigarettes among heavier smokers, those who also vape, smoke marginally more cigarettes per day on average than those who do not – 11.8 versus 11.3. Smokers who have given up on e-cigarettes smoke 12.2 per day versus 10.6 among those who have never used an e-cigarette. Smokers who have children at home are also more inclined to use e-cigarettes.
The figures will bolster the arguments of those who believe e-cigarettes have a major role to play in ending the tobacco epidemic. The issue has been hugely controversial among public health doctors and campaigners, some of whom consider e-cigarettes to be a stalking horse for the tobacco industry which hopes to make smoking acceptable again and has invested in vaping. Even if this is the case does the public not deserve the right to clarity on the issue, regardless of what the experts say and how many times they wish to use different data sets to draw up their conflicting conclusions. There must be enough common sense within the healthcare industry in the UK and across the wider community to know that the time has come for all resources to be assembled to provide unquestionable data that would put all minds at ease.