ASH’s 2022 Survey on use of E-Cigarettes amongst Adults in the UK – A Review

ASH 2022 survey header

ASH’s 2022 study

Action on Smoking and Health is a public health charity on a mission to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco. They’ve been established since 1971, formed by a group from the Royal College of Physicians.

Since 2012, they’ve been compiling yearly reports on the amount of people in the UK who have now turned to vaping over smoking, as well as many other factors and they release their findings in a yearly summary.

ASH have just released their 2022 report, and I’m going to look at it in detail and pick out some key points to discuss in this article.

In the graphic below are some key statistics I’ve picked out from ASH’s report, and I’ll go into them in more detail underneath;

facts about vaping

Another rise in Adult vapers!

As you can see, the amount of adult e cigarette users in the UK has risen to a record high of 4.3 million, which equates to 8.3% of the adult population of the UK. This is such a good thing to read, as it’s an increase on the 7.1%/3.7m reported in ASH’s 2021 report. Goes to show more people are trusting the process of vaping as a tool to quit smoking!

Below is a graph showing the numbers from 2012 when ASH first started researching vaping within the UK;

% of Adult Vapers in the UK (1)

You’ll see that there was a constant growth year on year from 2012-2020 but in 2020, the numbers saw a dip down to 6.3%. My personal belief for this is 2020 was the year a lot of peoples lives changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and a lot of people faced unknown and unnecessary stress so potentially turned back to smoking, or started smoking as it’s been proven that people believe smoking cigarettes can help alleviate stress.

No going back to smoking

As seen above, 57% of current vapers have said that they are ex-smokers and have remained an ex-smoker since starting to vape. A great thing to read that people have been successful in transitioning from smoking to vaping.

50% of vapers also reported they have no changed their vape juice strength since starting to vape, with 38% choosing to decrease their nicotine strength, and the remaining 12% admitting they have opted to vape at a higher nicotine content from when they first started.

This could be down to the introduction and popularity of Nicotine Salt vape juice. I’m included in this % of people who have increased their nicotine strength since starting. I started out on a 12mg nicotine strength freebase vape juice as I tended to smoke 12-15 cigarettes a day depending on what I was doing, where now I only ever vape Nicotine salts which are 20mg in strength.

Nicotine salts are sold in 10/20mg strength and are designed in a different way to standard freebase nicotine vape juice, for people to be able to vape a higher nicotine strength than usual, and get a smooth punchier hit of nicotine, as well as a more flavoursome vape. You can read my article on Nicotine Salts HERE

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A change of flavour

An interesting section of ASH’s report I wanted to discuss was they asked the question to vapers on what flavour vape juice they tend to use, and compared it to the survey results from 2015, and the outcome was very interesting.

Back in 2015, 38% of users said they used a tobacco flavour vape juice. Compare that to the 2022 reports, and that number has now decreased to just 15%! And people who opted for a Fruity flavour vape juice in 2015 stood at 25% whereas now it’s a reported 41%. There’s no denying that the selection of vape juice flavours on the market today is so much more vast than that of 2015, but I still find this quite interesting.

Menthol is the only flavour that has remained the same, with 19% of vapers opting for that as their vape juice flavour of choice in both 2015 and 2022.

Refillable tanks still reign supreme despite a fall in numbers

The most frequently used e cigarette amongst adult users is still a refillable tank device, with 65% of current vapers admitting to using these devices. However, this number may sound high but it has decreased from 77% from the 2021 report. This is likely due to the sudden surge in users of Disposable e cigarettes, of which I’ll go on to discuss in the next part of this article.

The spike in usage of Disposables

Wouldn’t be an article about vaping trends without giving Disposables a mention!

There’s no denying that Disposable vapes have seen a huge uprise amongst the vaping world and the stats from this ASH report certainly proves that.

In 2021, it was reported that 2.3% of e cigarette users in the UK opted to use a Disposable vape over anything else. And now in 2022, that number has increased to 15%, just over 6 times what it was the year prior!

Disposables like Elf Bars & Geekbars are taking the helm in popularity, but it is reported that the use of previously popular disposable pod systems like JUUL and Vype are still being used by 15% of users.

Disposable use amongst 18-24 year olds is the most prevalent, and is home to the most eye opening statistic from the whole report. The amount of 18-24 year olds who vape and use disposable vapes as their main device has gone from 2.8% to 48%! This is a massive increase that not only proves the popularity of Disposables on the whole, but it shows that targeted marketing by some Disposable vape manufacturers seems to be working, with the younger generation using them more than the older generations.

% of current users

People are vaping less

Another interesting fact coming out of this report is the change in the amount of vape juice people seem to be using.

ASH asked people in 2016 what volume of vape juice people were finding themselves using, with 44% of users saying they used 2ml or less, and 0.2% of vapers using 10ml or more. Now fast forward to present day, the report now shows that 28% of daily e cig users are using 2ml or less of vape juice a day, but a big rise to 2.4% of people have admitted to using 10ml or more a day of vape juice.

I personally believe that people who are using large volumes of vape juice a day are likely sub ohm vapers, using higher powered devices that weren’t really a huge thing back in 2016 when the question was originally asked. You can read my guide to Sub-Ohm Vaping HERE

2016 also saw the introduction of Shortfill vape juices on to the market, due to the legislations and restrictions put in place by the TPD Law. As well as more people opting to make their own vape juice at home (Homebrew) to avoid paying big prices for smaller bottles.

In 2022, 26% of vapers admitted to using these “Shake and Vape” products, which is a rise from the 16% who admitted it back in 2016. You can read my article on Shortfill Vape Juice HERE. As well as whether or not making your own vape juice is actually worth doing HERE.

Safety of Vaping

From 2016 to 2019, the number of adults who wrongly believed that vaping is more/as harmful than smoking was around 1 in 4, with around 50% of adults who believed the opposite.

Thanks to some classic media scaremongering in 2020, the number of adults that believed it was less harmful dropped dramatically down to 39%. This was due to an outbreak in the USA of the EVALI lung disease, which was the sad cause of death to 3 people in the UK. More studies were done on what vape juice was being used by these people who contracted the lung injury, and it was found that it was adult only drug containing vape juice that contained Vitamin E Acetate, an ingredient that isn’t used in standard vape juice in the UK and wouldn’t pass regulatory testing.

The number of Adults in the UK that now believe vaping is more harmful than smoking has fallen back down to 32% and the amount of people that believe it is less harmful than smoking has risen back to 42%, which is still less than it was back in 2019 sadly. And the amount of people that believe it is a lot less harmful still only sits at 12%, with myself being included in this group, and I will continue to advocate the benefits and safety of vaping, as I imagine ASH will do also.

Conclusion

To conclude, the ASH 2022 Report has some great facts and figures, and is very educational as always. It’s good to see the amount of Adult e cigarette users in the UK grow so much compared to last year, and long may it continue.

It comes as no surprise that Disposables hold the most drastic change in numbers, and this is something I think will only rise as the year goes on, but I’m hoping they will start to phase out once the next vaping trend comes in and takes over.

Reference: Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Fact Sheet: Use of e-cigarettes (vapes) among adults in Great Britain. August 2022

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