Number of smokers drops as vaping rises

The proportion of smokers in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since records began, with vaping playing a “major role” in this drop, reports The Independent.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 13.3 per cent of people aged 18 and over in the UK smoked cigarettes in 2021, equivalent to around 6.6 million people. This is the lowest proportion of current smokers since records started in 2011, when it was 20.2 per cent.
The ONS said there had been a “statistically significant” drop in the proportion of smokers from 14 per cent of the population in 2020.
According to ONS, in Great Britain 7.7 per cent of those aged 16 and over surveyed in August and September last year said they currently used an e-cigarette daily or occasionally, equating to around four million adults in the population. This is an increase from 2020, when 6.4 per cent of people reported daily or occasional e-cigarette use. The ONS said that vaping devices such as e-cigarettes had played a “major role” in reducing the prevalence of smoking across the UK. It added that the proportion of vapers was highest among current cigarette smokers (25.3 per cent) and ex-cigarette smokers (15 per cent), while only 1.5% of people who have never smoked said that they currently vape. However, it added that policies associated with the tobacco control plan for England, such as increased public awareness campaigns and smoke free places, may have also contributed to decreased smoking prevalence.

The highest proportion of current smokers in 2021 was in Scotland at 14.8 per cent, with the lowest in England at 13 per cent. Wales and Northern Ireland reported 14.1 per cent and 13.8 per cent current smokers respectively, the ONS said.

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