UK Has 4.7 Million Adult Vapers in 2023, ASH Research Shows
A new report from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) offers insights into UK adult e-cigarette usage and preferences. It reveals 4.7 million British adults now vape, with disposable devices surging in popularity.
ASH estimates the current national vaping rate at a record 9.1% of the adult population. This equates to approximately 4.7 million vapers, up from 3.6 million in 2021.
Of these, 2.7 million are ex-smokers who quit cigarettes through vaping. Another 1.7 million vape but also still smoke. And around 320,000 never smoked but use e-cigarettes, representing 1.1% of never smokers.
For ex-smokers, key vaping motivations are quitting aid (31%), relapse prevention (22%), enjoyment (14%), and cost savings (12%). Current smokers cite cutting down (19%), quitting aid (17%), and relapse prevention (13%) as reasons to vape.
Among never-smoking vapers, 39% cite enjoyment and 27% are just experimenting. This data highlights vaping’s viability as a smoking cessation tool for many, but also some adoption by non-smokers.
Regarding devices, refillable tank systems remain the most popular at 50%. However, disposable vapes doubled in share from 15% in 2022 to 31% in 2023, reflecting rapid growth. Cartridge systems comprise 17% of devices.
Notably, disposables now dominate among the 18-24 age group, accounting for 57% of vapers in 2023 versus just 29% in 2022. This youth appeal warrants continued monitoring.
Most adult vapers currently use low nicotine concentrations under 13mg/ml. But 1.2% reported exceeding the 20mg/ml legal limit, and 13% were unsure of their e-liquid nicotine strength.
Among smokers yet to try vaping, top reasons were not wanting another addiction (20%), believing e-cigarettes ineffective for quitting (13%), and safety concerns (14%).
Overall, ASH’s latest data provides valuable insights into evolving UK vaping preferences and demographics. It suggests vaping keeps gaining traction as a cessation aid, but also shows the need for vigilance regarding youth adoption.
ASH’s key findings:
Use and awareness of e-cigarettes
- The proportion of the population using e-cigarettes this year is 9.1%, the highest rate ever, equal to 4.7million adults in Great Britain.
- 2.7 million (56%) are ex-smokers.
- 1.7 million (37%) are current smokers.
- 320,000 are never smokers (1.1% of never smokers are current vapers, and 6.7% of current vapers are never smokers).
Why people vape
- The main reasons given by ex-smokers for vaping is to help them quit (31%); to prevent relapse (22%); because they enjoy the experience (14%); and to save money (12%).
- The main reasons given by current smokers for vaping is to cut down on smoking (19%), to try to help them quit (17%) and to prevent relapse (13%).
- The main reasons never-smokers vape is because they enjoy the experience (39%) and just to give it a try (27%).
Devices and products used
- The most commonly used type of e-cigarette device remains a refillable tank system, with 50% of current vapers reporting this type as their main device.
- Disposable vapes have become more popular in 2023 (31%), compared with 2022 (15%) and 2021 (2.3%).
- E-cigarettes with replaceable cartridges were used by 17% of vapers.
- Use of disposable vapes has risen quickly among 18-24year old adults.
- Over half of current e-cigarettes users (57%) use disposables as their main type in 2023.
- The majority of adults currently vaping use nicotine strengths below 13 mg/ml.
- 1.2% of current vapers use e-liquids over the legal limit of 20 mg/ml.
- 13% don’t know what strength e-liquid they use.
Perceptions of harm
- Four in ten smokers incorrectly believe vaping is as or more harmful than smoking up from a third last year and one in five in 2019.
- A third of smokers understand that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
- Fewer than one in ten smokers understand that vaping is a lot less harmful than smoking.
- Ex-smokers who vape (2.9 million) have the most accurate perceptions of harm, with 75% correctly identifying that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
Reasons why smokers haven’t tried using e-cigarettes
- 1.8 million (27%) of smokers have not yet tried e-cigarettes.
- 20% said they do not want to substitute one addiction for another.
- 9.0% said that they are not addicted to smoking and don’t need help to quit.
- 14% are concerned about the safety of vaping.
- 13% said they do not believe that e-cigarettes could help them quit or cut down.
- 8.4% said they do not know enough about vapes and vaping.
- Use of e-cigarettes (vapes) among adults in Great Britain – HERE