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Vaping in the Uk – Vaping is Still Safer Than Smoking

Vaping in the Uk

Vaping in the Uk

UK report gives reflects on recent changes in vaping.

Every year the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID, formerly Public Health England) publish a report regarding the latest evidence and research for vaping in the UK. Let’s take a look at what they found this year, as the latest report is one of the most thorough yet.

Vaping is Safer Than Smoking

Well… yes. We already knew this. In fact both Cancer Research UK [1] and OHID have said that vaping is 95% healthier than smoking. OHID revealed that between May 2016 and January 2022 only 257 reports of adverse reactions to vaping were reported. That’s only roughly 43 people per year on average. Also, these came from reporters assuming that these reactions were caused by vaping, not 100% confirmed to be. Compare this to adverse effects from nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as a whole, where 297 reports were made in 2021 alone [2].

Regulations & TRPR

Vaping products in the UK that contain nicotine are regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR). This includes a limit of 10ml bottles, a maximum 2% strength and tanks must be 2ml or smaller.

It is becoming increasingly common to find non-compliant devices on the market. These include strengths as high as 5% and liquid capacities as high as 10ml. Any disposable that is more than around 600 puffs will contain more than that.

But, Trading Standards are fighting against the sale of these illegal vape products. In July 2022 St Helens Council seized over 1,100 vapes that did not conform to TRPR [3]. In September 2022 the Liverpool Echo reported that St Helens Council confiscated a further 2,500 unregistered e cigs [4].

We applaud the efforts of Trading Standards, as illicit vapes cause a lot of harm to the integrity of ecigs as a replacement for cigarettes. But, it’s just not good enough. Additional regulations should be in place to prevent importation of these devices.

Vaping and Young People

The report highlighted a rise in the number of young people smoking (age 11-18) since 2021. With 6% of those surveyed admitting to smoking. Also, there has been a rise in the number of underage vapers. The number of underage vapers has risen from 4% to 8.6%.

Whilst this is worrying in the sense that under 18s shouldn’t have access to tobacco or e-cigarettes at all, the report shows that only 1.7% of young people who have never smoked are vaping.

Vaping and Adults

The number of adults vaping in England is roughly 3.15 million. Also, the number of adults vaping having never smoked was pretty low, being only 0.6% of adult vapers.

The rise of disposables on the market has definitely made itself known, with 15% of vapers using them in 2022. This has shot up drastically since 2021 when it was only 2.2% of adult vapers using them.

It has also been shown that vaping is one of the most common forms of stop smoking tool. Showing a 65% success rate of quitters when using a vape.

Perceptions of Vaping

The report also showed a concerning lack of guidance with smokers. In 2021 only 34% of adult smokers knew that vaping is less harmful. With 11% of those adults knowing that nicotine was the least harmful thing in a cigarette. The report concluded that these perceptions need to be addressed, and we agree! 

Also, with such positive numbers of successful quitters using ecigs as their quit methods, more smokers need to be made aware that vaping is a much healthier option. 

Also, focus on the harm of vaping aimed to deter young people need to be assessed. It isn’t just young people that read this information, which promotes misinformation amongst adult vapers.


[1] Cancer Research UK. (2020). E-cigarette safety. [Online]. Cancer Research UK. Last Updated: 28 January 2020. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/awareness-and-prevention/e-cigarette-hub-inform [Accessed 20 October 2022].
[2] Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. (2022). Nicotine vaping in England: 2022 evidence update. [Online]. gov.uk. Last Updated: 29 September 2022. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nicotine-vaping-in-england-2022-evidence-update?utm_mediu [Accessed 20 October 2022].
[3] St Helens Borough Council. (2022). ILLEGAL VAPES SEIZED IN TRADING STANDARDS SWOOP. [Online]. sthelens.gov.uk. Last Updated: 05 August 2022. Available at: https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/article/6593/Illegal-vapes-seized-in-Trading-Standards-swoop [Accessed 20 October 2022].
[4] Aaron Curran. (2022). £60,000 worth of illegal tobacco and vapes seized by police. [Online]. Liverpool Echo. Last Updated: 26 September 2022. Available at: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/60000-worth-illegal-tobacco-vapes-25108816 [Accessed 20 October 2022].