New survey finds regular use of electronic cigarettes by children still rare

Wednesday 17 September 2014

New data from Action on Smoking and Health [1], analysed by Public Health England and presented at the Public Health England Conference today (Wednesday 17th September), shows that while electronic cigarette use by young people increased between 2013 and 2014:

• Only 1.8% of children are regular users. 90% of regular or occasional users are young people who are already smokers or ex-smokers

• 91% of young people have not tried an electronic cigarette even once

• However, over 80% of young people are now aware of e-cigarettes (up from under 70% in 2013)

The ASH Smokefree Youth survey questioned over 2000 11-18 year olds in 2013 and a further 2000 in 2014 about their smoking and vaping behaviour. It also found that 98% of children who have never smoked have never even tried an electronic cigarette.

Overall the number of young people who have ever tried an electronic cigarette has increased by 3% (from 7% in 2013 to 10% in 2014 [2].) However, use is closely linked with smoking behaviour. Young people who smoke most regularly are most likely to try using electronic cigarettes.

Not only are young people not using the products with any regularity they are also not interested in using the products in the future. Over 90% of young people surveyed who had never tried vaping said they had no intention to vape in the future.

Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said:

“ASH supports the introduction of an age of sale of 18 for electronic cigarettes [3] and stricter controls on how they’re advertised [4] as a precautionary measure to prevent these products being promoted to children. However, our survey results should reassure the public that electronic cigarettes are not currently widely used by young people, nor are they interested in taking electronic cigarettes up. The small increases in use that have occurred over the last year are almost entirely among children who smoke or have smoked.”



[1] The research was conducted by YouGov as part of the ASH Smokefree Youth survey, however the figures within this release are based on further analysis conducted by Public Health England. The full analysis is being prepared for peer reviewed publication and will be published in due course. Fieldwork was conducted by YouGov between 21st March and 1st April 2014.

[2] Includes less than 1% who did not want to say if they had used electronic cigarettes

[3] The Children and Families Act 2014 created a provision to raise the age of sale for electronic cigarettes to 18. The Government is likely to consult on regulations soon

[4] The EU Tobacco Products Directive 2014 includes a number of provisions in relation to electronic cigarettes, this includes controls on marketing. From 2016 products which are not licenced as medicines will no longer be able to use cross-border advertising this includes television and print media. The Committee on Advertising Practice is due to publish new guidelines on advertising electronic cigarettes following a recent consultation.