Survey by the institution Action on Smoking and Health, presented at an event on electronic cigarettes in the USA

Ex-smokers are the majority of people who use vape in the United Kingdom. According to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), they represent 53% of consumers. The data was presented by Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the institution, during the E-Cigarette Summit 2024, held on Tuesday (May 14, 2024), in Washington, capital of the USA.

The survey also shows that another 39% are still smokers and use both types of products, combined. This is an increase compared to recent years – 2021 (31%), 2022 (35%) and 2023 (37%) – considered positive by the specialist, as it represents a “natural stage (of the transition) to be crossed”.

The remaining 8% are people who have never smoked conventional cigarettes, that is, they started smoking with electronic devices. They accounted for 6.7% in 2023. Despite the growth, smokers are still more numerous: 6.4 million in total, against 5.6 million users of vape not UK.

“There is still potential to reduce smoking by encouraging people to switch from cigarettes to vapes or simply stop smoking, because they don’t necessarily have to use vapes, but what we know is that for those who do difficulty, switching to vaping is a much better alternative than smoking”, Arnott said.

Another section of the survey addresses young people, aged 11 to 17 – for whom sales are considered illegal in the United Kingdom. In this age group, 9% have already tried electronic cigarettes once or twice and 7.6% use the devices. For the first time since the beginning of the series, in 2013, recurring use (4.5%) surpassed occasional use (3.1%).

Access by children and teenagers is a worrying issue for Deborah Arnott. “Vaping legislation does not prevent the sale of products that look like children’s toys or sweets, with bright colors and flavors like ‘gummy bear’. This needs to be resolved and that is what government legislation must do.”these.

Despite this, ASH’s chief executive believes it is not necessary to ban flavors in vapes. A survey by the institution shows that fruity foods are preferred by both young people and adults. Sweets are more popular among the younger group, while those with a tobacco or mint flavor are more sought after by older people.

A possible solution she suggested would be to transform the names of flavors into alphanumeric codes, so that they are not attractive to children and teenagers, eliminating names like “unicorn”, for example. “This way, it would be possible to identify them and, inside the packaging, there would be more information, but it would not be disclosed on the label”, declared.

Among the UK government measures highlighted in the expert’s presentation are: the initiative to annually increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, the ban on disposable electronic cigarettes – most sought after by young people – and a national tax on liquids used in vapes.

Program “Swap to Stop”

Since 2023, the United Kingdom has had a program to encourage smokers of conventional cigarettes to use electronic equivalents, as a way of reducing the harm from smoking. It’s called “Swap to Stop” (“Switch to Stop”, in the free translation into Portuguese). The estimate is to distribute 1 million kits.

Leader of the Tobacco Control Program at Ohid (Office of Health Improvement and Disparities), Martin Dockrell also participated in the event in Washington and explained that the idea is to maximize the adoption of vapes by smokers, highlighting the benefits and increasing access, while preventing use by others.

“The idea is clear: between smoking or using a vape, use a vape. Between using a vape or breathing fresh air, choose clean air”, he said. In the presentation, he highlighted the distribution of vapes and the support given to participants to stop the addiction. In the two previous rounds, 634 thousand people were helped. The 3rd round opened this May.

The E-Cigarette Summit 2024

Held since 2013, the E-Cigarette Summit brings together government representatives, members of the scientific community, and experts from the public health sector and industry to discuss the latest research and data on the use of electronic cigarettes.

In this edition, the program was divided into 4 blocks. They addressed the use of nicotine and tobacco, government policies, harm reduction strategies, the current market and future challenges. In total, there were 26 speakers, with individual and collective participation. The event was held on Tuesday (May 14, 2024), in Washington DC (USA).

According to status GGTC October 2023 Global (Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control), 82 countries allow the sale of electronic cigarettes and regulate their distribution – 32 limit the concentration of nicotine and other substances, for example. This is the case of members of the European Union.

Brazil is among the 39 where commercialization is prohibited, alongside Argentina, India and Norway. In April this year, Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) maintained the ban, in force since 2009, and published a resolution prohibiting the manufacture, import, sale or advertising of these products in the country.

A debate on the subject is also held in the Federal Senate, through PL (bill) 5,008/2023, by senator Soraya Thronicke (Podemos-MS), which received a favorable opinion from the rapporteur, Eduardo Gomes (PL-TO). The text aims to regulate electronic cigarettes and is being analyzed by the CAE (Economic Affairs Commission). Read the full report (PDF – 146 kB) and the full Thronicke PL (PDF – 318 kB).


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