No rise in UK youth vaping, proves new YouGov research

New research supports mounting evidence that vaping uptake amongst young people remains uncommon, following a major study by Action on Smoking Health (ASH).

Conducted by YouGov, the Smokefree Youth Survey 2019 found that more than three quarters of 11-18 year olds (76.9%) were either unaware of vaping or had never tried it. The number of 11-18 year olds who had vaped also fell marginally from 16% in 2018 to 15.4% in 2019.

Vaping is increasingly used by smokers as an effective means to quit and helps over 20,000 adults successfully stop smoking every year. The study shows that vaping amongst young people is also largely confined to current or ex-smokers, with only 0.5% of those who had never smoked currently vaping, compared to 40.3% use amongst youth smokers and 12.2% use in former youth smokers.

Contradicting rising concerns that vaping is viewed as ‘cool’ by teenagers, the study found that only 0.5% of young people vaped because of this reason. The majority of young people (%) instead stated that their main reason for vaping was to ‘just to give it a try’.

Following the study, which surveyed over 2000 people aged 11-18, ASH concluded that while some young people, particularly those who have tried smoking, experiment with e-cigarettes, regular use remains low.

John Dunne, board member of the UK Vaping Industry Association said: “These latest statistics just add to the growing body of evidence which shows that the responsible steps being taken by the vaping industry to prevent access to young people is having an effect. The UKVIA’s code of conduct insists on robust online age verification methods, a challenge 25 policy in-store and a clear expectation that products are only be marketed towards adult smokers, vapers and consumers of other nicotine products. It also continues to disprove the assertion that vaping is a ‘gateway’ to smoking as smoking rates and exposure to tobacco harm continues to fall.”

Despite growing public health consensus in the UK that vaping is a significantly less harmful alternative to smoking, the survey revealed that an increasing proportion of young people incorrectly believed that vaping products were as harmful as tobacco cigarettes.

“Vaping is in fact helping people to make that switch as it is 95% less harmful than smoking and recent research has shown that vapers are three times more likely to quit than those who don’t vape.” adds John Dunne.