Trends in electronic cigarette use in England

Posted 15th August 2014 by
A summary of the research findings produced by Robert West et al. into the current trends of electronic cigarette use in the UK.

How was the survey conducted?

  • They collected data since 2011 using monthly surveys.

How many people were involved?

  • 1,800.

What are the key usage findings?

  • Electronic cigarette use has levelled out at 16% of current or recent smokers.
  • They are used more on a daily basis by ex-smokers than current smokers.

What about safety?

  • Electronic cigarettes are ranked as safe as using patches, oral products, nasal sprays and SNUS.

Did they say how safe?

  • The figure they place upon it is that vaping is at least 20 times safer than smoking.

What has been observed?

  • They noted a drop-off in the use of traditional nicotine replacement therapy products.
  • The increase in use of electronic cigarettes is greater than the fall in NRT use.
  • 80% of electronic cigarettes are used by people who classify themselves as current smokers.
  • The team measured an increase in desire of smokers to quit as vaping has become more widespread.
  • There has been an increase in the number of attempts to quit smoking.
  • The quit success rate has almost doubled from 5% of people who try per year to near 10%.
  • There is a direct link between availability of electronic cigarettes, use of electronic cigarettes and successful quit attempts.
  • Numbers of cigarettes sold has produced a continual decline over the monitored period.
  • The percentage of the population smoking has declined from 24.2% in 2007 to 17.8% in 2014.

What about electronic cigarettes acting as a gateway and luring non-smokers?

  • The report states that the use of electronic cigarettes by people who had never smoked was so small as to be statistically insignificant.

But Professor Glantz says that the flavours are there to entice non-smokers, especially the young!

  • There is no avoiding the evidence: it crushes all arguments regarding this matter – there is absolutely no evidence to support Glantz’ position.

This must be great news for the manufacturers of nicotine?

  • No. The overall market for all forms of nicotine consumption is in decline.
  • The graph is relatively flat for non-cigarette nicotine use.

What do the team put the second point down to?

  • They believe that this reflects the ability of vapers to regulate their own nicotine content and that there is the ability for a gradual reduction in nicotine content but this is countered by smokers taking up vaping.

What do they conclude from this?

  • The team claim that the market for electronic cigarettes has stalled.

Is this conclusion supported elsewhere?

  • No, the ASH UK survey increased the number of people using electronic cigarettes from 1.3million to 2.1million this year

Any final points to make me feel good?

Yes. They address the topic of electronic cigarettes “re-normalising” smoking. They state that the notion is unsupportable given that the evidence all points to the opposite and people are using electronic cigarettes to quit. Those going from vaping to smoking are the result of failed quit attempts not a progression.

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