Data from a survey conducted this spring for the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) shows that 1.8% of 11-to-18-year-olds are regular users. But of those who use e-cigs regularly or occasionally, 90% are smokers or ex-smokers, while the vast majority of never-smokers have not even experimented with an e-cigarette.
A similarly large proportion of never-vapers do not plan to try e-cigs, either.
Altogether, 10% of British children have tried e-cigs, up from 7% last year, despite high awareness at more than 80% (a figure that was less than 70% last year).
“Use is closely linked with smoking behaviour,” said ASH, “Young people who smoke most regularly are most likely to try using electronic cigarettes.”
By contrast, 98% of children who have never smoked have never tried an e-cigarette, and 90% of minors who have never tried an e-cigarette – or 81% of all children – have no intention of doing so.
“Our survey results should reassure the public that electronic cigarettes are not currently widely used by young people, nor are they interested in taking electronic cigarettes up,” said ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott.
“The small increases in use that have occurred over the last year are almost entirely among children who smoke or have smoked.”
The survey of 2000 children was conducted in March and April by YouGov as part of ASH’s Smokefree Youth survey, and presented at a conference this week by the government body Public Health England.
A fuller analysis is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
What This Means: There are no huge surprises here: a very small minority of kids vape regularly, and nearly all of them have smoked. (About one in 550 children is an e-cig user who hasn’t smoked.) Most of those who are likely to experiment have already done so.
All of this is very much what e-cig supporters have been saying for some time – that take-up among never-smoking children (or adults, for that matter) is negligible.
What may be more interesting is the sharp difference between ASH’s sanguine attitude and the sky-is-falling reaction that youth vaping data sometimes provokes from other parties.
Only snippets of the ASH data have been disclosed so far, so it is not easy to directly compare it with recent figures on youth e-cig use from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but it may well be ASH’s focus on reducing tobacco-related harm – rather than a broader public health remit – that engenders this Keep Calm and Carry On approach.
– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff
Related articles from ECigIntelligence:
- Many UK pharmacists will sell e-cigs to kids, survey finds
- UK survey: e-cig users’ product preferences change over time
- Harvard research didn’t show that teens are regular vapers