E-cigarettes ‘not gateway into smoking’

April 28, 2014, 1:34 PM GMT+0

There is no evidence that non-smokers are turning to E-cigarettes in Britain – and smokers are increasingly using them as a quitting aid

There has been a degree of concern that electronic cigarettes could re-normalise smoking. Bubblegum and obviously non-adult flavours have a clear target, and in the absence of regulation adverts indistinguishable from those selling actual tobacco products get an easy ride.

But while many worry that the adverts and products will entice a new generation of non-smokers, who will later go on to smoke actual tobacco, a new YouGov survey for ASH finds no evidence for this.

Only 0.1% fall into the problem group: people using e-cigarettes regularly but not yet smoking. Negligibly more (1.1%) have tried an e-cigarette but have never smoked.

The worry about children becoming gateway users also seems unfounded. 99% of aware, never-smoking 16-18 year olds have never tried an e-cigarette.

In reality, e-cigarette use appears to be mainly among current smokers (52% have used one). And for the increasing numbers of ex-smokers who use them (12%, up from 7% in 2013 and 4% in 2012), 71% say the main reason for use is to help them stop smoking tobacco entirely.

Smokers, on the other hand, are most likely to say they use them to reduce the amount of tobacco they smoke, but not to stop completely (48% say this).

The e-cigarette industry say the survey shows that public health opponents are wrong to oppose the products. "Study after study is showing that scaremongering that e-cigarettes are luring people into tobacco is baseless nonsense. The reverse is going on – smokers are switching into e-cigarettes as the way to reduce the harm from tobacco," said the legal and corporate affairs director of E-Lites.

Image: Getty

See the full poll results