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Press Release

New data shows smokers are getting the message on e-cigarettes

14 Sep 2018

14 September 2018

New data shows smokers are getting the message on e-cigarettes

Findings from a new survey [1] for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) published today show that GB smokers are getting the message that switching to vaping can improve their health.

YouGov surveyed over 12,000 adults for ASH, with a further analysis by King’s College London, estimating that there are now 3.2 million vapers in Great Britain. This compares with an estimated 7.4 million smokers in the UK [2]. Of current GB vapers, over half have quit smoking and 40% are current smokers who are trying to quit.

The number of vapers has grown rapidly over the last few years. In 2012 there were 700,000 vapers and in 2018 there are now more than 4 times that number. However, there remain a group of smokers who appear to be resistant to giving e-cigarettes a go. Around a third of smokers say they have never even tried an e-cigarette, with concerns about addiction topping the list of reasons why they haven’t tried one.

The proportion of smokers who have tried e-cigarettes has been relatively stable since 2015, prior to this it increased rapidly. In 2015 there was also an increase in smokers’ perceptions of harms from e-cigarettes, with 16% of smokers wrongly believing they were as or more harmful as smoking compared with 10% in the year before. False perceptions of harm have increased since then, with the percentage of smokers who now believe vaping is as harmful or more harmful as smoking now at 22%. However, in 2018 there has been an increase in the percentage of smokers who correctly believe vaping to be less harmful than smoking, at 27% in 2018 compared with 22% in 2017.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH said:

“UK policy is on the right track with thousands of smokers making the switch to vaping and improving their health and little sign of non-smokers taking up vaping. But even more smokers could benefit if e-cigarettes were licenced as medicines and available on prescription.”

Dr Leonie Brose, King’s College London, said:

“The continued false belief among some smokers that vaping is as bad as smoking is worrying. Campaigns from Public Health England and others to challenge these views are important and must continue.”

For all the findings from this year’s survey and trends from 2012 onwards see the latest ASH factsheet here.


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:

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 on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.


[1] Total sample size was 12767 GB adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th February to 6th March 2018. The survey was carried out online by YouGov. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The full findings are available here:

[2] Office for National Statistics, Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2017. Available from: