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Vaping is as popular as ever, but are more youngsters vaping?

Vaping is as popular as ever, but are more youngsters vaping?

Examining the results of a recent vaping survey.

The use of e-cigarettes in recent years has soared. According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), there were 700,000 users in 2012 – so far in 2019 there are 3.6 million.

More smokers are quitting with the help of a vaping device. And given that several studies have shown vaping is considerably less harmful to your health than smoking, this has been well received by health organisations. But there have been some concerns that young people (those under 18) could be attracted to vaping, even if they don’t smoke.

Following a recent report published by ASH on the use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain, this article looks into their findings to answer the question: are more youngsters vaping?

Vaping vs cigarette usage.

The use of e-cigarettes by adults has grown considerably since their commercial release – especially in recent years. At the same time, there has been a downward trend in the use of cigarettes. Not only in adults – in youngsters too. In 2010, 17% of 16–18 year-olds smoked, by 2018 this had fallen to 12%. But has this decrease in smoking seen an increase in vaping among under 18s?

Under 18s awareness of vaping.

Young people have become increasingly aware of vaping. In 2013, 67% of 11–18 year-olds were aware of e-cigarettes. By 2015, it had reached 93%, and it remains at this level in 2019.

Vaping usage among young people.

Although 11–18 year-olds are more aware of vaping, in 2019 only 15.4% of this age group had ever tried it. With 52.4% doing so ‘just to try it’, compared to 1% who did so because ‘they thought it made them look cool’.

The report also showed that of those youngsters that did try vaping, they were considerably more likely to have smoked cigarettes before. A large majority of never smokers aged 11–18 (93.8%) have either never used an e-cigarette (87.8%) or are unaware of them (6.0%).

Despite some 11–18 year-olds having tried vaping, very few (only 1.6%) used e-cigarettes more than once a week.

Why are so few young people vaping?

It’s hard to say for sure, although it might have something to do with so many youngsters incorrectly believing e-cigarettes are as harmful as cigarettes. Several health organisations have now concluded: ‘vaping is relatively less harmful than tobacco smoking’. However, in 2015 67% of young people correctly said that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking, falling to 52% in 2019.

The report’s conclusion on vaping usage among youngsters.

E-cigarette usage has definitely increased in adults. However, the ASH report concluded: ‘…while some young people, particularly those who have tried smoking, experiment with e-cigarettes, regular use remains low’.

Hopefully this latest report will go a long way to alleviating any concerns a few people had that youngsters (especially those who have never smoked before), might take up vaping.


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