Smoking levels drop as vaping increases, data reveals

The number of UK people smoking cigarettes has dropped to the lowest level on record – more people use e-cigarettes, according to new stats.

Data shows that around 13.3% of people aged 18 or over smoked cigarettes in 2021. This is down from 14.0% in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Smoking levels drop as vaping increases, data reveals

However 7.7% of those aged 16 and above  said they used e-cigarettes – compared to 6.4% in 2020.

The ONS said that vaping devices such as e-cigarettes played a ‘major role’ in the drop in the number of smokers.

E-cigarette use was highest among current cigarette smokers at 25.3% and ex-cigarette smokers at 15.0%. Only 1.5% of people who have never smoked cigarettes said that they currently vape.

The first ONS records on smoking were in 2011. At the time, they found 20.2% had smoked.

‘Significant difference’

This comes as one study finds that patients who use vaping devices are more likely to develop decay.

Researchers from the school of dental medicine at Tufts University found that patients who used vaping devices were at a higher risk of developing decay.

The research found a ‘significant difference’ in dental caries risk levels between patients who vape and those who do not.

High risk

For example, some 79% of the vaping patients had a high-caries risk. This compares to around 60% of non-vaping patients.

However, the vaping patients were not asked which devices used – although nicotine is more common than THC.

The researchers looked at data from more than 13,000 patients over the age of 16.

Karina Irusa is assistant professor and also lead author on the paper. She said that these new findings ‘serve as an alert’ that vaping could be ‘very detrimental’ to health.