ASH presents new data on e-cigarettes to Science and Technology Select Committee



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Tuesday 27th March

Action on Smoking and Health today appeared before Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee to provide evidence for the Committee’s inquiry into e-cigarettes. New data from the charity, published today, was presented to the committee providing the most recent figures on the level of use and attitudes towards e-cigarettes.

The latest figures come from the annual ASH Smokefree GB survey completed in March by polling agency YouGov [1].

The new figures show that:

  • Use of e-cigarettes continues to increase among ex-smokers and smokers with 23% of ex-smokers now reporting that they currently use or used to use an e-cigarette.
  • Use among young people remains low at 4% and almost exclusively among those who smoke with 0.4% of young people who don’t smoke saying they currently use an e-cigarette
  • The accuracy of people’s understanding about the relative harm from vaping compared to smoking has improved between 2017 and 2018 among adults with 50% of adults correctly identifying that vaping is less harmful than smoking in 2018 compared with 43% in 2017. Although the proportion who believe vaping is as or more harmful than smoking remains similar to 2017 at 25%
  • However, the accuracy of young people’s perceptions of the harms from e-cigarettes compared with smoking appear to have got less accurate over the same period with 31% in 2018 stating they believe vaping to be as or more harmful than smoking compared to 28% in 2017.

Appearing in front of the Committee were ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott and Director of Policy Hazel Cheeseman. They also represented the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group [2] and the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership [3].

Key issues they raised with the committee included:

  • The public health opportunity represented by e-cigarettes. The popularity of e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking has been unprecedented, contributing to the number of people who have quit smoking.
  • The regulatory process in the UK has been a success in protecting young people while facilitating uptake among adult smokers, but there is room for improvement. There is potential to further increase uptake of e-cigarettes among smokers through reviewing the process for medicinal licencing and ensuring products can be made available as licenced medications on prescription.
  • There continues to be a pressing need to improve public understanding of the relative risk from vaping compared to smoking. Health professionals must provide accurate and consistent advice to smokers.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said:

“We are pleased to be sharing this evidence with the Science and Technology Committee. It is important that policymakers and the public understand the potential benefits of e-cigarettes in reducing the harm caused by tobacco. Good evidence should continue to inform the approach we take to regulation in this country as we seek to maximise the benefit to public health from e-cigarettes.”

ENDS

Notes and Links

 Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash. ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line.

For more information contact ASH: 020 7404 0242, or out of hours, Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.
References

[1] ASH supplementary evidence to the Science & Technology Committee. The adult survey is conducted by YouGov for ASH Fieldwork for 2018 survey was undertaken between 8th February and 6th March. The survey was carried out online. Total sample size was 12767 GB adults and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The youth survey is also conducted by YouGov for ASH The survey is conducted online via parents for 11-15 year olds and directly with 16-18 year olds. The 2018 survey had a sample of 2291 and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB 11-18 year olds. The fieldwork was carried out between 28th February and 17th March.

The full evidence provided by ASH is here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/ecigarettes/written/75354.html

[2] The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group is a coalition of voluntary sector, academia and professional groups. For more information and full membership see here: http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-in-pregnancy-challenge-group/

The full evidence provided by the Group is here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/ecigarettes/written/75321.html

[3] The Mental Health and Smoking Partnership is a coalition of voluntary sector, academia and professional groups. For more information and full membership see here: http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-and-mental-health/

The full evidence provided by the Partnership is here:

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/ecigarettes/written/75317.html