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Could vaping replace smoking? Smoking levels at record low

Image for Could vaping replace smoking? Smoking levels at record low

Smoking continues to decline, especially amongst vape-happy young people

[caption id="attachment_808" align="aligncenter" width="300"]vaping replace smoking Image credit: Clive Bates at the Counterfactual[/caption] Just one in five people in Britain still smoke… and the good news is that they are smoking less than ever. According to new data from the Office of National Statistics, the average smoker is getting through just eleven cigarettes a day — the lowest figure since records began. Fewer men now smoke than ever before. Traditionally men have smoked more than women and have been more reluctant to quit, but now only 20% of men still smoke. This means that they are closing in on the women, 17% of whom still smoke.

Vaping has changed our smoking habits

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in Britain, so the continued low smoking statistics are great news. The trend toward lower smoking rates is undoubtedly being boosted by the popularity of e-cigarettes. Combined with anti-smoking campaigns, such as ever-tightening laws against smoking in public places, as well as the ever-increasing taxes on tobacco products, e-cigarettes are steering the country towards the “end game” for tobacco. 2.2 million people in Great Britain now vape and just over half of them say that they vape because they want to quit smoking. This evidence directly contradicts those who argued that vaping would ‘renormalise’ smoking. Instead, we continue to see smoking rates fall as vaping rates rise. As pointed out by Clive Bates, 850,000 ex-smokers are currently using e-cigs and a further 720,000 ex-smokers used to use e-cigs. This points to an enormous number of people who are either giving up, or have given up, smoking thanks to e-cigarettes.

Yet more evidence that the ‘gateway theory’ is massively flawed

It’s worth pointing out too that 97.5% of people who vape are ex-smokers, suggesting that e-cigarettes are almost never used by people who never smoked. This figure blows the ‘gateway theory’ out of the water. Plenty of non-smokers do experiment with vaping, but almost none of them go on to become daily vapers (let alone smokers!) In contrast, a non-smoker who experiments with smoking has a roughly 50% chance to become a daily smoker. Professor Peter Hajek explains that this is because nicotine is much more addictive when it is delivered by cigarette smoke. There is little to no evidence that nicotine is very addictive at all when vaped. This is why the majority of young people who vape choose the nicotine-free version and also why you simply don’t see people who are addicted to nicotine gum or nicotine patches.

If vaping replaces smoking, we could save 5 million lives in Britain

What next for smoking? Judging by trends among young adults, the tobacco industry should be worried. In fact, the age group which is least likely to smoke and most likely to vape is the under-25s. As these young people grow into adults who would rather vape than smoke, the market for traditional cigarettes will shrink even further. Some Wall Street analysts have even forecast that vaping could overtake smoking within the next ten years. These recent statistics show that it could perhaps be even quicker than that.

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