E-cigarettes don’t act as gateway to tobacco smoking – study

E-cigarettes don’t act as gateway to tobacco smoking – study
The concern that e-cigarettes might lead to people smoking non-electronic cigarettes might be unfounded, the first official UK figures suggest.

Data from the Office for National Statics (ONS) indicates those who use e-cigarettes are almost entirely current or former smokers, while the overall proportion of adults who smoke cigarettes had in fact fallen over the years.

The figures showed the proportion of smokers fell from 46 percent in 1974 to 19 percent in 2013. The proportion of women who smoke cigarettes dropped from 19 percent to 17 percent between 2012 and 2013.

The ONS found only a very small proportion of people who use e-cigarettes had never smoked before. Some 0.14 percent who have never smoked tobacco said they used e-cigarettes.

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Users see e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes and the study revealed that e-cigarettes were mainly used to help smokers quit. That suggests while fewer people have started smoking, more smokers had actually quit.

Over half of e-cigarette users surveyed said their main reason was to stop smoking, and about one in five said it was because they thought they were less harmful than cigarettes.

“Balanced and effective regulation of e-cigarettes will help manage the risks and maximize the potential for these products to replace smoking – greatly reducing smoking related disease that kills nearly 80,000 people in England every year,” said Prof Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England.

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It also found that single people were almost twice as likely to be cigarette smokers as married ones.

E-cigarettes were introduced to Europe in 2006 and are said to contain fewer harmful components than cigarettes, although there is limited evidence to prove this.

There are 2.1 million people in the UK currently using e-cigarettes, according to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

In September, a study by Columbia University claimed, contrary to the ONS’s conclusions, that e-cigarettes could act as a gateway to the non-electronic version and even to drugs such as cocaine.