New data has revealed that there are now five times as many vapers in the UK than there were in 2012, as the e-cigarette revolution takes off.
In a report published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a record 4.3m Brits are now actively vaping, up from 800,000 people ten years ago. This is about eight per cent of the population.
ASH found 2.4m people who vape are former smokers, 1.5m are still smokers, and 350,000 have never had a cigarette.
One in five reformed smokers said vaping products had helped them stop. It comes as top cigarette firms like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris have also started to develop their own e-cigarette ranges.
Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief of ASH, said that while vaping is a useful alternative for smokers, allowing nicotine rather than smoke to be inhaled, the government still needs to put forward a comprehensive plan to help all smokers.
The report showed e-cigarettes were becoming particularly popular for youngsters, with 18- to 24-year-olds making up 11 per cent of the users.
The lowest rate of vaping is people over the age of 55, which is 5.9 per cent.
In a paper published earlier this year, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) argued that reduced-risk nicotine products like heated tobacco have facilitated steep declines in smokers in several countries, including the UK.
The think tank dismissed arguments made by anti-vaping campaigners that suggest that using smoking alternatives is dangerous for smokers who switch away from them.
In fact, the IEA pointed to data from Public Health England that concluded that vaping ‘is around 95 per cent safer than smoking’.
This was also echoed by Cancer Research UK, which acknowledged that e-cigarettes were ‘far closer to other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products than tobacco in terms of harm’.
The takeaway point from the report was that countries should avoid overly cautious approaches, dodging outright bans: which is effectively the case in Australia, where a prescription is needed to access them.