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20 Fascinating Vaping Statistics From the 2021 ASH Vaping Survey

A recent ASH survey has thrown up some fascinating vaping statistics, including how many vapers there are in Britian.

Each year, the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) publishes a survey called SmokefreeGB. The survey is conducted on their behalf by YouGov and looks at vaping preferences and awareness. This project began in 2010, so ASH has a rich dataset with which to observe how attitudes have changed over the years.

Each year, the survey throws up some fascinating vaping statistics. Some of these stats are related to the attitudes and behaviours of vapers; others are about product preferences. 

Let’s stop messing around and get right into the twenty fascinating vaping statistics from ASH’s 2021 SmokefreeGB survey.

#1) There are 3.6 million adult vapers in Great Britain

There are 3.6 million vapers in Great Britain. This number accounts for just over 7% of the population in 2021. These are interesting vaping statistics by themselves, but they become more impressive when you consider how far vaping has come.

In 2012, when ASH began capturing vaping statistics, there were about 700,000 vapers. That was only 1.7% of the population. Use rapidly grew in 2013 and 2014 to 5.4% before settling into a more uniform pattern.

Table: Number of e-cigarette users in Great Britain
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
% of population current users
1.7%
2.7%
4.2%
5.4%
5.7%
5.8%
6.2%
7.1%
6.3%
7.1%
Percentage point change (YoY)
1.0
1.5
1.2
0.3
0.1
0.4
0.9
-0.8%
+0.8%
Number of users (millions)
0.7
1.3
2.1
2.6
2.8
2.9
3.2
3.6
3.2
3.6
Rate of growth (YoY)
86%
62%
24%
8%
4%
10%
13%
-12%
+13%

#2) Vaping in Great Britain Has Grown Each Year Since 2012, Except for 2020

One of the most fascinating vaping statistics in the survey shows that vaping has been growing steadily since 2012 but actually declined by 12% in 2020. This leads us to…

#3) The proportion of UK adults who incorrectly believe vaping is as harmful as smoking grew in 2020

Despite numerous medical studies that show that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, a surprising number of people believe the opposite. In fact, in 2020, the number of people who thought vaping was as harmful or more harmful as smoking actually grew from 25% to 37%. This vaping statistic is troubling.

The main reason the report cites for an increase in the perception of e-cigarettes as more dangerous was US media coverage. Specifically, media coverage around the serious lung injury called EVALI.

Between September 2019 and February 2020, the US had a severe rise in hospitalizations and deaths from EVALI. The media reporting initially blamed vaping as the cause of these fatalities.

However, subsequent research revealed that “the cause of this outbreak has since been identified as vitamin E acetate used to adulterate cannabis containing e-liquids”. Both of these substances are banned under UK vaping regulations. However, the media coverage clearing up this error was nowhere near the original story’s pitch and volume.

As a result, 32% of Britains in 2021 think that vaping is more or equally harmful than smoking. Vaping statistics don’t get much more depressing than that.

#4) Only 12% of UK residents correctly believe that vaping is much less harmful than smoking

Yes, we have another bleak vaping statistic for you. Only 12% of UK residents understand that vaping is much less harmful than smoking. Some of these people are likely to be smokers who are doing unnecessary damage to themselves instead of trying to stop smoking by trying out vaping.

Cigarettes vs vape blog

#5) 77% of vapers use refillable tanks

More than three-quarters of people surveyed said that they used a refillable tank. For the purposes of the survey, it seems that refillable tanks also include refillable pods kits.

 

#6) 20% of vapers use disposables or pre-filled cartridges

Despite this being the year that disposables vapes truly took off, as of February and March 2021, only 2% said they used non-rechargeable devices. I suspect that this is one of those vaping statistics that will be much different in the following survey to account for the growth of disposable e-cigarettes.

18% of people surveyed said that they use pre-filled cartridges. 

If you’re interested in trying out some disposable vapes, check out this article for the top 5 best flavours.

#7) Only 9% of vapers have increased nicotine strength over time

The vast majority of UK vapers haven’t cycled up in nicotine strength during their vaping journey. In fact, only 9% have increased the amount of nicotine they consume. This number sounds about right to me based on my own behaviour. 

Interestingly, 47% of UK vapers said they had reduced the amount of nicotine they use.

#8) About 2% of vapers said they vape nicotine-free

Only 2% of vapers have managed to cycle down to 0% nicotine. This vaping statistic was a bit surprising to me. Well, in a way. When I started vaping, the “plan” was that I’d also cycle down to vaping nicotine-free e-liquid and then give up altogether. However, things didn’t quite work out that way.

But I really thought more people would have done it. 

#9) 25% of vapers aren’t aware of shortfill e-liquids.

After TPD regulations came into force in 2016, the vaping industry had to make a few changes. The EU directive imposed limits on tank and bottle sizes, reducing them to 2ml and 10ml, respectively. As a result, shortfill e-liquids became a way to get around this loophole.

Shortfill e-liquids offered a way for people to get around these regulations by buying a, for example, 50ml bottle and filling it up with flavourless nicotine themselves. This process allowed vapers to have large bottles again. However, it seems that not everyone is aware of this.

In fact, one in four UK vapers said they’d never heard of such products. So, if you’re one of those people, have a read of our Complete Guide to Shortfill E-Liquids to see what all of the fuss is about. 

Additionally, if you were wondering, 29% of UK vapers surveyed said they used shortfill e-liquids.

putting nib back on shortfill bottle

#10) 35% of UK vapers prefer fruit flavours

This is not one of the most surprising vaping statistics. 35% of vapers surveyed said that fruit flavours were their preferred e-liquid. Interestingly, this has grown significantly since 2015, when the number was at 25%. 

It’s hard to say why fruit flavours are becoming more popular. Perhaps it’s better processing and manufacturing that has led to an increased interest in fruit flavour? The industry is getting better at capturing many different types of flavours.

#11) The UK’s second favourite e-liquid flavour is menthol (23%)

The people have spoken, and they’ve said that menthol is the prefered flavour of almost one in four UK vapers. Back in 2015, that number was around 18%, so menthol flavours are on the rise.

#12) Tobacco flavours have dropped in popularity by 18% over the last five years

Tobacco flavoured e-liquids used to be the number one flavour. In 2015, 38% of vapers preferred them. However, that number is way down to 20%. Again, it’s not really clear why tobacco flavours have fallen out of favour. Maybe it’s because other flavours like fruit have gotten much better? 

I could never really get into tobacco flavoured e-liquid myself, so if anything, I’m surprised it’s that high!

#13) 65% of vapers are ex-smokers

Almost two-thirds of vapers are ex-smokers. This is one of those surprising vaping statistics until you account for what the survey calls “dual smokers.” These are people who use a mix of both regular cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. 

People who vape and smoke account for around 30% of the vaping population. 

Which, if we do the maths, means that…

#14) 5% of vapers never smoked

Back in 2014-2016, the number of people who vaped but never smoked sat at below 2%. However, over recent years, this figure has climbed up to 5%. Again, this is one of the most surprising vaping statistics on this list. 

#15) Three in ten current smokers have never tried an e-cigarette

Another surprising vaping statistic is that 30% of current smokers have never even tried an e-cigarette. It’s one thing to try something and not be into it. But I’m shocked that so many smokers haven’t considered seeing if vaping would work for them.

In 2014, this number was 50/50. Gradually it has been shrinking down, but it seems like there are some stubborn, hardcore smokers out there who aren’t open to healthier alternatives. 

I guess that this point underlines why it’s essential that the general public have access to vaping statistics and research from the NHS. There is so much misinformation and mistaken beliefs about vaping that some people have been scared away from trying something that could allow them to live longer, more healthy lives.

20 Fascinating Vaping Statistics From the 2021 ASH Vaping Survey

#16) 54% of UK vapers have used e-cigarettes for more than three years

More than half of UK vapers have been in it for the long haul. This year was the first time that SmokefreeGB has reported the majority of vapers have been vaping for more than three years.

Interestingly, just 12.7% of vapers have made the switch over the last 12 months, at the time of the survey.

#17) 90% of vapers vape every day

This one is another of those vaping statistics that initially seem surprising. I love vaping, so I vape all the time. It’s hard for me to believe that somebody has a vape sitting in a drawer that they pull out for special occasions. 

But then I remembered the phenomena of the “social smoker”. Remember those folks who’d enjoy a cigarette (generally, one of yours) with a drink? I’m guessing that some of them were forced into vaping because I stopped having a box of cigarettes they could dip their hands into. 

#18) 36% of current vapers said the main reason they vape was to quit cigarettes entirely

Another of the vaping statistics that I found surprising was that only 36% of vapers said the main reason they vape was to quit smoking forever. I’d have thought this number was far higher.

Some of the other primary reasons that people gave were to reduce tobacco consumption (20%) and to save money (11%). It’s interesting to consider that around one in ten vapers would smoke cigarettes if they were cheaper than vaping. I think back to having a permanent cough and can’t imagine going back to those times.

#19) Only 51% of vapers said they get a great deal of pleasure out of vaping

This one is another of these vaping statistics that I can’t quite get my head around. Only 51% of vapers said they get a great deal of pleasure from vaping. 

Maybe it’s how the question is phrased that has caused people to answer like this? Perhaps people’s cut off point for “a great deal of pleasure” is different than mine. Could there be people out there who are just joylessly vaping as if it is some sort of flavourless gruel that oppressed people are forced to live on in dystopian sci-fi movies?

Or perhaps people reserve the threshold for a great deal of pleasure for the birth of a child or scoring the winner at a Wembley final. I don’t have the answer for you, folks. Some vaping statistics are just plain confusing.

For what it’s worth, 36% of people from this vaping survey said they neither agree nor disagree with the idea. 

#20) Men are more likely to vape than women 

8.1% of British men vape, while that number is only 6.2% for British women. I guess this isn’t very surprising. 

I looked at global tobacco statistics, and it seems that men are more likely to smoke than women by around 4:1. According to a WHO report, 40% of men worldwide smoke. It’s hard to say why that number is so high. It’s probably a mix of social and cultural factors. Whatever it is, we need to get those people some alternatives.

Summary

Well, there you have it, 20 fascinating vaping statistics. Some of these stats were really surprising to me and challenged my assumptions. Others seemed about right. Mostly, I’m looking forward to reading next years survey to see how many people are using disposable vapes these days.

Finally, it’s a bit disheartening to see the vaping statistics that show that people still don’t have the information to make an informed choice about vaping as a way to quit cigarettes. Let’s hope we see an improvement in that category next year.

Written by:
Joseph Hart
Joseph Hart
Joseph has been vaping since the time of cartomisers and leaky petrol station cig-a-likes. However, these days he keeps his hands clean with a Caliburn filled up with fruit or menthol flavours. Joseph is an experienced ghostwriter and content writer who specialises in comedy, scriptwriting, and finance. When he's not writing, he usually winds down by watching boxing or the arts, reading, or cooking fringe-restaurant level food for friends and family.

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