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Health Survey confirms decline in smoking and rise in vape use

June 8, 2024

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The latest findings from the 2022 Health Survey for England, published on Thursday by the NHS, have shed light on the current state of cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use among adults, revealing both declines and shifts in habits over the years.

According to the survey, 13 per cent of adults reported currently smoking cigarettes in 2022, marking a continued decline from 27 per cent in 1993. This decrease is significant, with the proportion of adults who never regularly smoked cigarettes rising from 46 per cent to 64 per cent over the same period.

Breaking down the numbers by gender, men were found to be more likely to be current cigarette smokers, with 14 per cent reporting smoking compared to 11 per cent of women. However, both genders have seen an increase in the prevalence of never regularly smoking cigarettes since 1993.

Further analysis by age group showed variations in smoking habits. Current smoking among adults ranged from 18 per cent among those aged 25 to 34 years to 5 per cent among those aged 75 years and over. Additionally, the median number of cigarettes smoked per day by current smokers stood at 10 in 2022, a figure that has remained steady since 2011.

In a noteworthy trend, the proportion of adults smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day has decreased gradually over time, from 9 per cent in 1993 to 3 per cent in 2014, where it has stabilised.

Turning to e-cigarette usage, the survey found that 9 per cent of adults aged 16 and over reported currently using e-cigarettes in 2022. This marks an increase from previous years, with the prevalence of e-cigarette use remaining stable between 2016 and 2019 before rising to 9 per cent in 2022.

Interestingly, current e-cigarette use did not differ significantly between men and women, each accounting for approximately 10 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively. However, women who currently smoke cigarettes were more likely to use e-cigarettes compared to men.

Among current cigarette smokers, 26 per cent also reported currently using e-cigarettes, indicating a considerable overlap in usage. This trend was mirrored among ex-regular smokers, with 17 per cent currently using e-cigarettes. Even among those who had never smoked cigarettes, 2 per cent reported current e-cigarette use.

The survey also highlighted age disparities in e-cigarette usage, with the highest prevalence observed among those aged 16 to 24 (15 per cent) and the lowest among those aged 75 and over (1 per cent).

While the prevalence of adults who had never used an e-cigarette decreased slightly from 82 per cent in 2016 to 79 per cent in 2022, the overall picture suggests a nuanced landscape of smoking and vaping behaviours among adults in England.