UK vapers top 3.6 million – half as many as smoke – says study

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The number of people vaping in the United Kingdom has reached 3.6 million – about half the number of smokers – figures from Action on Smoking and Health suggest, writes James Gallagher for BBC News. The data indicates that most vapers are former smokers, with the main reason for using e-cigarettes being to give up tobacco. 

The findings come as the United States continues to investigate a spate of serious lung injuries linked to vaping. India, meanwhile, says it will ban e-cigarettes as they pose a health risk, with the ban including three-year jail terms for offenders. 

E-cigarettes allow users to inhale nicotine in vapour rather than breathing in smoke.

The anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health has been monitoring trends in their use since 2012. Its latest report suggests vaping helped an extra 70,000 people quit smoking in 2017, according to the 24 September BBC Newsarticle.

The charity’s trend report says the number of vapers in the UK has gone from 700,000 in 2012 to 3.6 million in 2019, and of these:

  • 54% have given up smoking
  • 40% both smoke and vape
  • 6% have never smoked

“It’s important that all vapers stop smoking completely, as otherwise they are still exposing themselves to the serious risks of disease and disability caused by smoking,” says Professor Ann McNeill, who compiled a review of e-cigarettes for Public Health England, reports BBC News. She adds: “Vaping isn’t risk free – but it’s much less risky than smoking, which kills nearly 100,000 people a year in the UK.”

The figures come amid a backlash against e-cigarettes.

The US Centers for Disease Control is investigating a mysterious outbreak of lung injuries linked to vaping, in which eight people have died and more than 500 have become ill.

Most, but not all, have reported “cannabis vaping”, in which the vapour contains THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis), BBC News continues.

There was a similar case in the UK last year, reported in the British Medical Journal, in which a woman developed lipoid pneumonia and the only explanation doctors could come up with was vaping. The CDC recommends people “consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products”.

Full report on the BBC News site

‘Half as many Britons’ vape as smoke

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