The STS tracks the use of ecigs to assess how they are being used and if they are working as quit tools for smokers. They also look at vaping with people who have stopped smoking for over a year and estimate the size of the smoking/vaping population.
They do this by questioning households on a monthly basis and add it to the information they have been collecting since 2011. As West says: “The explosion has flattened off but they are the most popular method used to quit smoking. They’re at least as effective as prescribed nicotine replacement products and more effective than over the counter quit smoking products.”
He adds: “E-cigarette users are smokers looking to cut down or ex-smokers using them to quit. Some are concerned that they attract non-smokers but the evidence clearly demonstrates that only 0.2% are never-smokers.” Notably, the use of ecigs by never-smokers is at the same rate to use of over the counter nicotine products by never-smokers!
Most people who vape also continue smoking, termed dual-users. The slight decline in this group using ecigs continues from last year’s findings. Ex-smokers and those in the process of quitting use their vaping devices more frequently (as one would assume) than current smokers.
The spread through the age groups is pretty evenly distributed but women are more likely to be vapers than men. Also, interestingly, vapers tend to be more intelligent and hold better-paid jobs.
Vaping continues its growth as the standout number one choice for quit attempts – but it also seems to be that ex-smokers who considered they’d quit cigarettes are turning to vaping as a way of not relapsing back to the weed and tar.
Frighteningly, the avalanche of anti-ecig propaganda hitting the media during 2015 has fed a mistaken belief regarding perceived danger from vaping. Only a minority of current smokers believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking. People like Martin McKee should hang their heads in shame at this finding.
West says that we need to discover more in certain areas. He wants to know how effective vaping is in the long term, after people consider themselves quitters. He thinks we need to discover which ones work best for quit attempts and which ones deliver nicotine better. He also thinks we need an answer to the question: how safe can they be?
West only receives funding from Cancer Research UK and not from any tobacco of electronic cigarette company – unlike those opposed to vaping who receive funding from pharmaceutical companies who manufacture nicotine replacement products.