UK releases data on underage vaping: Almost doubled in two years

According to the YouGov Youth Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) annual survey conducted in March and released on July 7, the current rate of e-cigarette use among children aged 11-17 in the UK has risen from 4% in 2020 to 10% in 2020. 7% in 2022. The proportion of children who admitted to having tried e-cigarettes also rose from 14% in 2020 to 16% in 2022.

Disposable e-cigarettes are now the most used product among current e-cigarette users, growing more than sevenfold from 7% in 2020 and 8% in 2021 to 52% in 2022.

Elf Bar and Geek Bar are definitely the most popular, only 30% of current users have tried any other brands.

Over the past year there have been growing concerns about the growing popularity of single-use e-cigarettes among young people, but this is the first time national data has shown the scale of the change.

ASH said the increase in vaping that the survey showed was worrying and needed to be closely monitored.

However, the group noted that 92 percent of people under 18 who have never smoked have never vaped, and only 2 percent have vaped more than once or twice.

“Try it” remains the most common reason (65%) for never-smokers to use e-cigarettes. For young smokers, the most common reason for vaping was “because I like the flavor” (21%), followed by “I like the experience” (18%), then “just to try it out” (15%), but they also said, “Because I want to quit smoking” (11%) or “I use them instead of smoking” (9%). Fruit flavours remain the most popular (57%).

E-cigarette use is strongly age-related, with 10% of 11-15 year olds having tried e-cigarettes compared to 29% of 16- and 17-year-olds (current vapers respectively 4% and 14%). Despite an increase in underage e-cigarette use, underage smoking rates are lower than in 2020 (14% in 2022 compared to 16% in 2020).

For the first time this year, the survey asked about awareness of e-cigarette promotions. More than half (56%) of 11-17 year olds said they were aware of e-cigarette promotions, most often in stores or online, with those who had ever vaped (72%) having the highest awareness. Tik Tok is the most frequently cited source of online promotion (45%), followed by Instagram (31%).

In response to the findings, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) called for a series of drastic measures to crack down on unscrupulous retailers selling vaping to young people.

“UKVIA understands the need to strike a balance between supporting adult smokers to quit while not encouraging under-18s and ‘never smokers’,” UKVIA director-general John Dunn said in a statement.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Social Care, UKVIA made a series of recommendations to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, while maintaining the critical role of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit, including a ?10,000 fine ($11,897) and a nationwide retail licensing program.