In recent years, the number of people vaping in the United Kingdom has reached an all-time high, according to a research study. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) report, titled "Smoking prevalence in the UK and the impact of data collection changes: 2020," reveals that 6.4% of the population in the UK reported using e-cigarettes, marking the highest number since data collection on UK vapers began in 2014.
Decrease in Smoking Rates
Interestingly, the report also highlights a decline in the number of adult smokers in the UK. The current smoking prevalence stands at 13.8%, the lowest percentage recorded since at least 2015. This is despite the fact that smoking rates experienced an upsurge during the pandemic and national lockdown, peaking at 16.3% in August.
John Dunne, the Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association, expressed enthusiasm regarding these findings. He stated, "This is a hugely welcome announcement as everyone on the side of harm reduction knows that vaping is far less harmful than smoking – by as much as 95% according to the former health protection watchdog Public Health England (now part of the UK Health Security Agency) – so more people vaping and less smoking can only be cause for celebration."
Dunne also attributed the spike in smoking rates during the pandemic to the closure of vaping shops. He emphasized the fact that specialty vape shops were not considered "essential retail" and were therefore required to close their doors. This closure likely contributed significantly to the rise in smoking prevalence during lockdown, alongside increased anxiety caused by the pandemic.
The Benefits of Vaping
Vaping, the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device, has gained popularity as a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. While the long-term effects of vaping are still being studied, experts agree that it is significantly less detrimental to health compared to smoking.
Public Health England, the former health protection watchdog now part of the UK Health Security Agency, has endorsed vaping as a harm reduction strategy. Their research suggests that vaping is approximately 95% less harmful than smoking. This endorsement has played a crucial role in promoting vaping as a viable option for smokers looking to quit or reduce their tobacco intake.
The Impact of Vape Shops
Specialty vape shops have been instrumental in providing support and guidance to individuals looking to transition from smoking to vaping. These establishments offer a range of vaping products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, along with knowledgeable staff who can assist users in choosing the right devices and flavors.
However, the closure of vape shops during the pandemic presented a challenge to individuals trying to quit smoking. With limited access to vaping products and expert advice, many smokers may have found it more difficult to switch to a safer alternative. This situation likely contributed to the temporary increase in smoking prevalence observed during the lockdown.