Use of e-cigarettes continues to rise among British adult smokers but use among young people is negligible

Tuesday 07 May 2013

Figures released by health campaigning charity ASH today show that use of electronic cigarettes by smokers and ex-smokers is continuing to rise but among young people it is negligible. The survey findings have been submitted as evidence to a committee of the European Parliament which is meeting today to discuss electronic cigarettes.

The key findings of the ASH survey are that among adults current use of e-cigarettes has grown among smokers and ex-smokers since 2010 but remains at 0% among those who have never smoked. Among current smokers use of e-cigarettes has risen from 3% in 2010 to 11% in 2013. Ex-smokers report having used e-cigarettes to help a quit attempt (48%) and to prevent relapse to tobacco use (32%).

Among children, regular use of e-cigarettes is extremely rare. Children who had heard of e-cigarettes were asked about their use and knowledge of them. What little regular use that is reported is confined almost entirely to children who currently smoke or used to smoke.
• 1 in 10 16-18 year olds who had heard of e-cigarettes (1 in 20 among 11-15 year olds) has “tried e-cigarettes once or twice”.
• 1 in 100 16-18 year olds (0% 11-15 year olds) uses e-cigarettes more than once a week.
• Among young people who have never smoked 1% have “tried e-cigarettes once or twice”, 0% report continued e-cigarette use and 0% expect to try an e-cigarette soon.

ASH believes that e-cigarettes can provide a less harmful alternative for smokers who want to cut down or quit smoking but that the products need to be regulated and their marketing controlled.

ASH Chief Executive, Deborah Arnott, said:

“E-cigarettes offer a potentially safer option for smokers wishing to reduce their risk of ill-health from tobacco use. However, these products need to be regulated to ensure that they are reliable, effective and not targeted at children. E-cigarettes should be brought under the control of medicines regulation to ensure that they are safe to use and marketed appropriately.”

Notes and Links
[1] For more information see the ASH fact sheet : Use of e-cigarettes among children and adults in Great Britain, 2013. 

YouGov survey. Total sample size was 12171 adults in Great Britain. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st and 19th February 2013
For the children’s survey, the total sample size was 2178 children aged 11 to 18 in Great Britain. Fieldwork was undertaken 21st – 28th March 2013.
All figures are rounded to the nearest percentage point. 0% may mean no respondents or respondents <0.5%.
YouGov survey 2010 : Sample size was 12,597 adults in Great Britain. It was undertaken between 27th and 29th May 2010.

[2] The Workshop on Electronic cigarettes is being organised by the Policy Department A (Economy & Science) for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and the ENVI secretariat. See :

[3] The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is currently reviewing options for the control of nicotine containing products, including e-cigarettes, and is expected to publish its recommendations within the next few months.