Number of smokers drop as Vaping usage increases

young female vaping without nicotine

Number of Smokers Drop Due To Vaping

A new report was recently released looking at smoking prevalence amongst adults in the United Kingdom. The report looked at 2021 statistics, and it showed that smoking figures have decreased to the lowest they have ever been, with the amount of adults now using e-cigarettes at the highest it’s ever been.

The Office of National Statistics carried out this survey and published the results, and the big thing that comes out of this alongside the statistics, is they publicly state Vaping has had a positive impact and credited to the smoking numbers coming down. This is brilliant news for the vaping industry and helps legitimise it a little bit more. Let’s have a look at this study report in more detail.


ONS releases 2021 data

As mentioned, earlier this week, The Office of National Statistics released a report entitled “Adult Smoking Habits in the UK: 2021” which looked into the proportion of people who smoke, demographic breakdowns, changes in statistics over time and most importantly, the use of e-cigarettes.

The study is really detailed, and they’ve clearly spent a lot of time gathering data and compiling this report. The report looks at smoking behaviours in both men and women, different areas of the country and compares numbers from the previous years reports as well. I’m going to breakdown and look at the main parts of it below.

Adult smokers in the UK

In the UK, in 2021, it’s reported that 13.3% of people aged 18 years or older were current smokers in the United Kingdom. This totals to around 6.6 million people in the total population of the UK, and according to their studies, this is the lowest number of smokers in the country since the studies began to be conducted in 2011.

They compared this data from 2021 to the data from the year previous, and the amount of smokers that were reported in 2020 was 14%, so this is a 0.7% decrease in the amount of adult smokers in the UK, which is brilliant!

It’s widely believed, but not confirmed that smoking prevalence rose in 2020 due to the pandemic and the uncertain times that we all lived through during the pandemic, with people either opting to start, or restart smoking to control their stress levels. You will see a bit further down when I get onto vaping statistics that the number of adult vapers took a dive in volume in 2020 also, which ties it together. Again, this isn’t confirmed and is just speculation on my part but I feel they do link and make sense.

The statisticians believe that smoking rates have gone down by such number due to the fact that the number of e-cigarette users has risen a lot year on year, which again makes sense. And the study shows that vaping usage is the highest it’s ever been and are frequently used by 16-24 year olds the most.

They go on to discuss the Tobacco Control Plan for England set out by the government that I have discussed in our blog about ASH’s survey on proposals of new tobacco laws, and it states the government wanted 12% or less of the adult population in England being active smokers by the end of 2022.

In 2021 it is reported that England has the current lowest proportion of adult smokers in the whole of the UK which was 13% which means the goal of 12% by the end of this year is a highly probable one, and the fact the number decreased from 13.8% that was reported in 2020, it shows that it’s all going in the right direction to be achieved. I will be eagerly awaiting a report to be done on the statistics from this year to see if the goal was achieved.

Vape69 Adult Smoker Image

A look at smoking prevalence in different parts of the UK

As I mentioned just above, England holds the lowest number of smokers in the United Kingdom with only 13% of the population reported to be smokers, which equates to around 5.4 million people.

Looking across to other constituent countries in the UK, Scotland holds the highest number of adult smokers based on number of smokers to population, with 14.8% of their population being smokers, which is around 640,000 people. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the numbers are very similar with I find interesting, with 14.1% in Wales, and 13.8% in Northern Ireland respectively.

The number of smokers in the UK has seen a decline as a whole since 2011, and will likely continue to decline especially with the higher usage of e-cigarettes by adults in the UK.

The government set out a roadmap for England to become “smoke free” by the year 2030, which means 5% or less of the adult population will be smoking by the time the year 2030 rolls round. Sadly it looks like this target will not be achieved unless the government doubles down on the efforts to help reduce the number of adult smokers. Just think how far it has come in the last 10 years with minimal involvement from the government and funding, and the possibilities that could happen if they government did intervene and provide necessary funding.

Smoking prevalence has fallen in all four countries of the UK since 2011

Smoking prevalence has fallen in all four countries of the UK since 2011

Electronic cigarette usage by adults in the United Kingdom

The data report eventually gets on to the subject that we are most interested in, and that is the use of E-Cigarettes amongst adults in the UK in 2021. As I have already discussed, E-Cigarette use amongst adults is the highest it has ever been in the UK, with over 4 million adults reported that are using an e-cigarette in some way. And with this number of adults increasing so rapidly, Vaping has actually played a large part in the economy growing within the UK, which is another positive step forward for vaping!

4.9% of respondents said that they use E-Cigarettes daily, which is a huge leap from the 3.8% who had the same response in the 2020 survey. 2.8% said they use an E-Cig occasionally, a slight increase from 2.6% so with these statistics and volume of respondents, it equates to around 4 million adults.

What is interesting is the study looked at who are using E-Cigarettes the most, and it’s reported that Men used them more than women (9.7% vs 5.7%) and the most interesting stat is that since 2014, the use of E-Cigarettes by 16–24-year-olds was the highest demographic with 11.1% admitting they use them daily and/or occasionally.

They go on to conclude the data report on vaping with that statistic that the proportion of vapers was highest amongst current cigarette smokers, these are called dual users, and equate for 25.3% of the total. And 15% of vapers are ex-smokers. Only 1.5% of the total respondents who use E-Cigs were never smokers.


This data report is yet another positive step in the right direction for the future of vaping. To see the number of adult smokers being the lowest it’s been in 10 years, and the number of adult vapers being the highest it’s ever been which is just really great to see.

I believe that if more of these studies and reports are released, then people will start to come around to the idea of vaping if they have been hesitant to make the switch from smoking. It may sound a lot, but when the amount of vapers compared to smokers is just over 2 million in difference, it’s not a million miles away and the chance of the numbers being even more level by next year, or the year after is a very real possibility and I am excited to see how this unfolds, especially with a look into the statistics next year.

Source: Adult smoking habits in the UK – Office for National Statistics (

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