ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) have this week published their latest fact sheet, which makes for some very interesting reading. Their UK wide poll of 12,055 adults has produced a lot of very useful data which helps to illustrate attitude to e cigs in 2015.
The most striking figure revealed in the poll results is that half a million smokers have switched to vaping in the past year alone, bringing the total number of vapers in the UK to 2.6million. Among ex-smokers, use of e cigarettes has increased from 4.5% to 6.7%, with use among current smokers remaining steady at 17.6%.
Reassuringly, the research also shows that the use of e cigs among those who have never smoked remains negligible, at just 0.2% of users polled. This hopefully will go some way to dispelling the myth that vaping in any way serves as a gateway to smoking among non-smokers.
Among the top reasons given for making the switch were a desire to quit tobacco entirely and in order to save money, both common reasons cited by our own customers. What was very interesting to read, however, is that 53% of respondents have attempted to quit cigarettes in the past, but were only able to succeed in quitting by making the switch to vaping. This lends further weight to the argument that NRT products have a low efficacy rate, while vaping is encouraging large numbers of smokers to reduce their use of tobacco, or cut it out completely in favour of vaping.
ASH's research has been expanded this year to drill down deeper into broader consumer attitudes. We now know, for instance, that the device first used by 1 in 4 vapers is a disposable model, but that only 5% of vapers continue to regularly use them. Far and away the most popular option (66%) among vapers are refillable, tank-based systems, with just 24% continuing to use cigalike devices utilising pre-filled cartomisers.
In our own experience, the vast majority of users will follow a similar path, though there are signs that this is beginning to change. Refillable devices are becoming more and more accessible, particularly with those who shop online. As the technology behind such devices continues to advance, we can expect the numbers of those using such devices to only increase.
Flavour choice was also examined, with 35% of users favouring tobaccos (matching our own recent poll result almost exactly), 25% choosing fruit flavoured e-liquids and 19% picking menthol.
On a more concerning note, however, there has been an increase in the number of people who think, inaccurately, that e cigs are as harmful as tobacco (from 6% to 20%). This feeds into our belief here at JAC Vapour that education is of vital importance to new vapers or those thinking about making the switch. Unfortunately, we must contend with poorly researched articles published in the media, so it’s doubly important that we make sure that when thorough research is carried out such as (Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos' study into aldehyde levels), that we make sure to highlight it when we can. ASH did also find that half (52%) of respondents correctly believe that e cigs are less harmful than smoking, but we as an industry must continue to make the case for vaping as a healthier alternative.