The number of people using electronic cigarettes in the UK has now raced to 2.1 million, and over half of UK smokers have tried e-cigarettes compared with just 8% in 2010.
Action on Smoking and Health surveyed 12,000 adult smokers from 2010 focusing on the use of electronic cigarettes. These surveys illustrated that adult smokers were using the devices as an aid for them to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.
The concern is that the growing popularity of e-cigarettes could encourage non-smokers to start vaping. However, the surveys have shown the usage of electronic cigarettes among people who have never smoked remained at 1%.
The electronic cigarette has risen from 2.7% in 2010, to 17.7% in 2014. When ex-smokers were asked why they used to device, 71% stated that they wanted to give up traditional cigarettes and 48% wanted to reduce the their tobacco intake. 37% said they were using them in order to save money as they were cheaper than smoking traditional cigarettes.
Recent studies have demonstrated smoking rates in England are falling, and this could be attributed to the rise in electronic cigarettes. Whilst it is important to control the marketing and advertisement of the electronic cigarette devices, there is no evidence to suggest they act as a gateway to smoking or that they re-normalize smoking.
Professor Robert West of University College London said that they had proven to be highly efficient quit-smoking aids, which could “substantially improve public health”.
Although there are conflicting opinions of electronic cigarette devices, they are generally considered far less harmful than ordinary cigarettes because they do not contain many of the harmful chemicals.
The number of smokers making the switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigs has tripled and it would be foolish to rule out these devices as a method of strategically reducing the amount of smokers in the UK.