Number of Britons vaping hits 3.6million as smoking hits record low, but scientists warn e-cigarettes can still kill our cells
- 3.6million Britons are regular vapers, up from 3.2m in 2018, a new poll suggests
- Action on Smoking and Health found majority of vapers were ex-smokers (54%)
- Comes amid a vaping epidemic sweeping the US which has killed eight people
A record number of Britons are now hooked on e-cigarettes, according to a major survey.
Figures show an estimated seven per cent of people in the UK regularly vape – up from 6.2 per cent in 2018.
This means 45 people took up the habit every hour in 2019, bringing the number of vapers from 3.2million to 3.6million in 12 months.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) polled more than 12,000 people to come to the conclusion.
The majority of vapers were ex-smokers (54 per cent), a third of whom claimed their main reason for using them was to help them quit cigarettes.
One in five said they took up the habit to prevent a relapse back to smoking while 13 per cent said it was a way to save money.
Fourteen per cent said they started smoking e-cigarettes because they simply enjoyed it.
The findings come amid a vaping epidemic sweeping the US which has seen eight people die from lung diseases linked to the devices.
A man in his forties from Missouri became the latest victim on Friday as the number sickened by electronic cigarettes rose to 500.
There were just 700,00 vapers in 2012 – a year after the electronic devices burst onto the scene as a ‘healthier’ alternative to cigarettes
An estimated 3.6million people (seven per cent) in the UK regularly vape – up from 3.2m (6.2 per cent) in 2018
Vape shops have cropped up on nearly every high street and shopping centre in Britain after bursting onto the scene as a ‘healthier’ alternative to cigarettes in 2011.
And earlier this month MailOnline reported that tobacco smoking rates in the UK are falling faster than they have in more than a decade.
Figures showed 15 per cent of the population regularly smoked cigarettes at the end of July this year – down from 17.2 per cent in 2018.
The recent ASH poll found 0.8 per cent of people who have never smoked are currently vaping.
Meanwhile 39.8 per cent of vapers are still smoking cigarettes, though this is falling, the research found.
‘SMOKING MUST BE STAMPED OUT BY 2030’
The UK Government will aim to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to address preventable ill health.
Its green paper, released in July, said more needs to be done to improve public health.
The paper read: ‘Thanks to our concerted efforts on smoking, we now have one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe.
‘Yet, for the 14 percent of adults who still smoke, it’s the main risk to health.
Smokers are disproportionately located in areas of high deprivation. In Blackpool, one in four pregnant women smoke. In Westminster, it’s one in 50.’
The paper proposed offering stop-smoking help to all cigarette users who are admitted to NHS hospitals.
It said it wants to reduce the smoking rate to 12 per cent by 2022 and to zero by 2030.
‘This includes an ultimatum for industry to make smoked tobacco obsolete by 2030,’ the paper added, ‘with smokers quitting or moving to reduced risk products like e-cigarettes.’
Of those people who had never smoked but had used e-cigarettes, 73 per cent said they did so to give it a try.
Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College London, said: ‘Vaping isn’t risk free, but it’s much less risky than smoking, which kills nearly 100,000 people a year in the UK.’
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, told MailOnline: ‘It’s vital that dual users, and anyone using an e-cigarette to help them quit smoking, have access to comprehensive support to quit both smoking and vaping completely.
‘Smokers and ex-smokers should stop vaping when the time feels right and they’re not at risk of relapsing back to cigarettes.
‘It’s encouraging to see how many people are using e-cigarettes as a quitting tool and that very few people who have never smoked use e-cigarettes.
‘We must remember that what works for one person to help them quit smoking may not work for someone else, so it’s really important that anyone who wants to quit has access to a range of options and face-to-face support to help them quit.’
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, encouraged smokers who haven’t done so yet, to give vaping a try.
She said: ‘Although e-cigarettes are now the most popular quitting aid, our survey finds that in 2019 over a third of smokers have still never tried vaping.
‘E-cigarettes have been shown to be a very effective aid for smokers trying to quit, either on their own or with help from stop smoking services.’
She said US reports of illnesses linked to vaping were ‘obviously concerning, but it appears to be linked to the misuse of e-cigarettes for illicit drug delivery.
‘Nothing like this has been seen in the UK to date, where a proper regulatory system is in place for nicotine containing e-cigarettes, which is not yet the case in the US.
‘Vapers should not be scared back to smoking by the news of vaping illness in the US.
‘Nor should smokers stick to smoking rather than switch to vaping. It is essential however, to only use legal vapes bought from reputable suppliers in the UK and not source illicit unregulated products over the internet.’
Eight people have died from a mysterious lung disease caused by vaping.
Vitamin E acetate is suspected as a possible trigger for the disease – but it’s only been found in THC vapes, which some, but not all of the severely ill patients used.
So far, in under a month, eight people have been struck down in the US by mysterious illnesses caused by vaping
This chemical may act like grease in the lungs, damaging the tiny sacs that fill with air.
It is unclear what any of the people who have died were vaping. Illnesses are most common among men, who account for 72 percent of the confirmed cases.
Vaping-related illnesses have affected Americans of all ages, but are more common in younger people who are not usually prone to lung disease.
Young adults between 18 and 34 account for a worrying 67 percent of cases and 16 percent of the vaping illness victims are under 18.
In most, if not, all, of these cases, what begins as shortness of breath and chest pain progresses to coughing, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, fever and weightloss.
Patients with the most severe cases wind up in the hospital with severely damaged lungs that often appear to be infected with pneumonia.
Sometimes they have to be placed on ventilators, in medically-induced comas, or worse.
E-CIGARETTE DEATH TOLL RISES TO EIGHT IN JUST A MONTH
An Illinois man said to be using e-cigarettes to smoke THC died on August 24 after his lungs failed when he developed a mystery lung illness.
The second person to die after vaping was a ‘middle-aged’ Oregon resident.
They were said to have recently started using an e-cigarette containing cannabis oil from a legal dispensary and passed away sometime at the end of August.
A third victim in Indiana passed away from the mysterious lung disease in August.
The patient was described only as ‘elderly’ and little else is known about them.
The fourth victim, a 65-year-old man, died sometime in August but his death wasn’t confirmed until September 6.
Minnesota officials said the patient had been using the electronic devices to smoke THC.
A 55-year-old man from Los Angeles was the fifth person to lose his life after smoking the e-cigarettes. He died on September 7.
A woman in her fifties was the sixth person to succumb to vaping-related illnesses.
The Kansas-born woman, who had a history of health problems, passed away on September 12.
A California man became the seventh person to pass away after using the devices. The 40-year-old from Tulare County died on September 17.
The Missouri man in his forties became the eighth victim to die from vaping.
He had normal lung function until he started using the devices in May.
The victim began experiencing trouble breathing which gradually got worse before he was taken to hospital in St Louis on August 22. He passed away on September 19.
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