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Office for National Statistics Report

The latest findings about smoking and vaping from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published their first report containing reference to electronic cigarettes in 2014, referring to data obtained in 2013. This week they released their follow up study covering data from 2014. Some of its findings make for stark reading and highlight failings in tackling the rates of smoking within society.

The first key figure from the ONS report is that 19% of British adults smoke. They cloud this figure by pointing out how it is down from 46% in 1974 – but this fails to recall that the previous survey revealed an identical figure twelve months previously. It is a surprising finding given that 2014 saw a huge boom in the numbers of people vaping.

Despite seeing a fall in the numbers of men smoking, the overall number of smokers remained static due to the growth in the numbers of women aged 25-34 who smoked – and smoking is far more prevalent in lower income groups with those on benefits outstripping the rates for those earning over £40,000 or more.

The data also reveals that although fewer men smoke, the number of cigarettes they consume is higher and averages 14.6 a day in the over-60s. Tackling such results is difficult according to Dr Penny Woods: “Smoking cessation services - the most effective way of helping people quit - are under threat around the country due to budget cuts. If we want to continue helping people quit and look after their lung health, investment in these vital services must be protected.” The chief executive of the British Lung Foundation continued: “It is certainly worrying that more young women are taking up smoking. The introduction of drab standardised packaging from May this year should help tackle this, but more efforts are still needed.”

The ONS state that 4% of Great Britain vapes, totally an estimated 2.2 million people. This figure is dwarfed by the 3.9 million who say they were regular users of electronic cigarettes and returned to smoking and exceeded by the 2.6 million who tried vaping and rejected it.

15% of smokers tried adopting ecigs because they believed they could use them indoors but, as we know, opportunities for that have been removed and continue to be attacked. That only 9% made the switch for cost savings is surprising given the current price of cigarettes. 22% did so as they believed vaping was a safer option – but just 15% of current smokers believe that ecigs are safer than cigarettes. 67% of vapers use their equipment daily and most of us prefer things that do not resemble cigarettes.

Deborah Arnott, representing Action on Smoking and Health, said: "The results on electronic cigarettes show that the majority of users are smokers who are using them to quit smoking. This is encouraging as e-cigarettes are far safer than tobacco products and using them as a quitting aid will significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer caused by smoking."

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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