British E-Cigarette users have tripled to 2 million since 2012, study reveals May 6, 2014 09:32


Over 2 million people are believed to make use of electronic cigarettes in Britain, but most of them are current smokers or ex-smokers that use the devices to stay away from tobacco, based on a survey published on Monday.

The anti-tobacco charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) stated that the number of e-cigarette users has tripled from 700, 000 in 2012. Almost two-thirds of consumers are smokers and the other third are ex-smokers, Ash says, while usage of the devices among non-smokers is very low, at just 0.1%.

Ash's discoveries are published the day a discussion on e-cigarette promotion closes. The Advertising Standards Authority has been evaluating concerns, especially among public health doctors, that advertising inspires non-smokers and especially children to try them out, knowing that they are going to graduate to standard cigarettes smoking.

But Ash's survey, performed by YouGov, reveals that this is not happening; people are using e-cigarettes to quit their tobacco habit instead.

"The significant increase in the usage of electronic cigarettes within the last four years signifies that cigarette smokers are gradually using these devices to enable them reduce or stop smoking. Significantly, usage among non-smokers is still very low," stated by Deborah Arnott, Ash's chief executive.

"While it is paramount to regulate the promotion of electronic cigarettes to ensure children and non-smokers are not becoming targeted, having no proof from our research that e-cigarettes are becoming a gateway into smoking.”

YouGov examined over 12,000 people, with Ash extrapolating the totality of e-cigarette users in the population from the investigations.

In the same YouGov review in 2010, 8.2% of existing or ex-smokers had used e-cigarettes, these days half of these people have (51.7%). In 2010, only 2.7% claimed they use them regularly, but now that is nearly 17.7%.

Among the present e-cigarette users, the major reason given by ex-smokers was "to help me quit smoking totally" (71%) and "to assist me to keep off tobacco" (48%). The major reason given by present smokers was to "help me reduce the quantity of tobacco I smoke, but never to stop completely" (48%) followed by "to reduce expenses when compared with smoking tobacco" (37%).

A survey from University College London before this month had the same discoveries. The Smoking Toolkit Study conducted in England discovered that e-cigarettes were taking over from nicotine gum and patches as a tool to quit smoking.

The leader of that research, Professor Robert West, stated: "Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks renormalizing smoking, we found no proof to backup this view. Instead, electronic cigarettes are helping to minimize smoking as a lot of people utilize them as a tool to quit smoking.”

The assessment is considering if advertising guidelines should be changed for e-cigarettes. Some public health doctors claim that advertising could normalize ordinary cigarettes that have otherwise turn into pariah products.

The e-cigarette industry stated the Ash survey showed that public health rivals, like the British Medical Association, were wrong to oppose the devices as resolutely as they do. "Study after study is affirming that scaremongering that e-cigarettes are luring people into tobacco is a baseless fact. The opposite is the case, smokers are changing to e-cigarettes as the means to minimize the danger from tobacco," stated Charles Hamshaw-Thomas, legal and corporate affairs director of E-Lites