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Thanks to vaping, number of UK smokers hits lowest point since 1974

Posted by Matt Rowland on

While American public health agencies spend enormous amounts of time and money demonizing vaping, the UK considers electronic cigarettes to be a major contributing factor for the nation’s lowest number of current smokers since 1974. 

The population of the United States stands at around 319 million while the UK boasts about 64 million citizens.  And thanks, in part, to vaping technology, the Office of National Statistics estimates that more than 1 million Brits have quit smoking in the past five years or less.  In 2010, approximately 20.1 percent of the British public were actively smoking.  In 2015, that number plummeted to 17.2 percent.

New vaping data from the UK Office of National Statistics

The UK Office of National Statistics has conducted a very detailed evaluation into the smoking and vaping habits of its citizens.  The organization has been able to successfully determine which areas of the United Kingdom are more prone to smoking, which are more inclined to vape, and which age groups are more attracted to each.

The largest decline in smoking rates between 2010 and 2015 occurred in the 18-24 group, dropping a full five percentage points in the five-year period.  Other interesting statistics include the following.

  • Cumulatively, British smokers average only about 11.3 cigarettes per day, the lowest rate since 1974.
  • The numbers of 18 to 24-year-old smokers dropped from 25.7 percent to 20.7 percent.
  • The most common age group of smokers in today falls in the 24-34 range at approximately 23 percent.
  • The most common age group for vapers is among 35 to 49-year-olds.
  • Older brits over 65-years of age only smoke at a rate of less than 9 percent.
  • Approximately 2.3 million people in England, Wales, and Scotland currently use vaping technology, either alone or in dual use with combustible cigarettes. That’s about 4 percent of the combined population.
  • Half of those 2.3 million vapers claim to be making the switch in the hopes of quitting smoking completely.
  • Another 22 percent claim to have made the switch because it is simply a healthier alternative to smoking.
  • 10 percent claim that vaping is cheaper than smoking.
  • And about 9 percent claim to vape because it is indoor-friendly.
  • Another 4 million Brits claim to be former e-cig users.
  • The highest number of smokers reside in:
    • Scotland at 19.1 percent
    • Northern Ireland at 19 percent
    • Wales at 18.1 percent
    • England at 16.9 percent.
  • Metropolitan areas with the highest numbers of smokers include:
    • Colby at 32.3 percent
    • Dover at 29.7 percent
    • Kingston-upon-Hull at 26.8 percent
    • Fenland at 26.4 percent.
  • Areas with the lowest numbers of smokers include:
    • Orkney Island at 7.0 percent
    • Rushcliffe at 7.5 percent
    • Fareham at 7.7 percent
    • Albans at 8.6 percent
  • Other interesting statistics derived from the UK study indicate that 19.3 percent of British men smoke compared to 15.3 percent of women.

There is also a rather startling difference between vaping advocacy in the United Stated compared to that of Great Britain.  Charitable organizations that focus primarily on overcoming smoking addiction tend to embrace vaping, unlike U.S. organizations like the American Lung Association which spends enormous financial resources in opposing it.

Executive Director of UK’s Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Deborah Arnott, sees the decline in smoking rates as “encouraging.”  She even recommends that the UK government get more involved with helping people to quit smoking via vaping.  In an interview with Barrhead News, Arnott stated,

“The Government can’t leave it to individual smokers to try to quit (smoking) on their own.  If the downward trend is to continue, we urgently need a new tobacco control plan for England, and proper funding for public health and for mass media campaigns.”

To our friends across the pond, Vapes.com says, “Well done, UK.  Well done!”


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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints, policy or company position of Vapes.com, the rest of our staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.



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