According to government data, 12.9% of UK adults or around 6.4 million people are current smokers.

This is having a serious impact on the nation’s health with smoking contributing to around 80,000 deaths a year. Given this and given UK Governments’ ambition to have a smoke-free (smoking rates at 5% or lower) England and Wales by 2030 (2034 in Scotland, and mid-2030s in Northern Ireland) you’d think now wouldn’t be the best time to impose significant restrictions on one of the  best smoking cessation tools we have, and yet that’s where we find ourselves.

In October, the Government announced a UK-wide consultation on potentially restricting certain types of vaping products and flavours that are vital to smokers’ quitting. This despite an impressive 46% of smokers and 37% of ex-smokers having used vaping as a tool to kick cigarettes, and a substantial 72% stating that vaping helps achieve a smoke-free life. 

While 65% of smokers and ex-smokers said flavours are important in their decision to try or continue vaping as an alternative to smoking.

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Despite this, a constant stream of negative headlines is eroding the public’s understanding of vaping’s benefits, particularly among smokers. Alarming data from the public health group Action on Smoking and Health, published in August 2023, indicates that while 94% of smokers are aware of vaping, 43% mistakenly believe that vaping is as harmful as or even more harmful than smoking. This represents a concerning trend, with misconceptions growing by 60% since 2019.

Proven and effective

This drip-drip of negative stories, combined with the potential for significant restrictions, threatens to undermine the progress made by vaping over the last decade and could prevent smokers and ex-smokers from accessing a proven and effective quitting aid.

It threatens to derail the respective government's smoke-free ambitions, condemning another generation to smoking related illnesses.

The UK’s leading vape trade association, the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) is now seeking to challenge some of the misinformation and to educate smokers about the benefits of vaping.

Alongside this, we want to position the industry as a partner, not just in terms of smoking cessation, but also in terms of preventing underage vaping, encouraging responsible product disposal (with many thousands  recycling points across the UK), and avoiding illicit vaping products.

While the government has a role to play, the vaping industry also recognizes its responsibility and the IBVTA, representing the UK’s leading independent vape manufacturers, importers, distributors, and vendors, has launched a major national public information campaign to meet this responsibility.

This campaign is accompanied by substantial new consumer insights that provide a comprehensive view of vaping, its various devices, and how smokers are using them to quit.

Our research uncovers the different types of vaping devices used by smokers at various stages of their quitting journey.

  • Single-use vapes, due to their user- friendly nature, play a crucial role in the initial transition away from tobacco, with 51% of regular smokers and 61% of recent ex-smokers using single use devices
  • Single-use vapes, due to their user- friendly nature, play a crucial role in the initial transition away from tobacco

Vital role

As ex-smokers move beyond the initial tobacco withdrawal phase, 43% express an interest in switching to refillable or pod-based systems.

This transition further underscores the vital role that vaping, in all its forms, plays in helping smokers quit and preventing relapses.

While the media’s interest in vaping is undeniable, it should be grounded in facts and evidence, including the industry’s efforts and programmes to address recent concerns.

It should also reflect the compelling evidence that vaping, particularly when using flavoured devices, is pivotal in achieving respective UK Government’s smoke-free ambitions.

Amid the current debate and media coverage, we must ensure that the essential message – that vaping saves smokers’ lives –remains undiluted.

Marcus Saxton Chair, Independent British Vape Trade Association.

For more information about the campaign and the research supporting it, please visit: www.ibvta.org.uk/explorethefacts.

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