Number of young adults who vape TRIPLES in two years: Shock data show almost a third of


The number of young people vaping has tripled in two years, but smoking continues to decline, a new study shows.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) said the use of disposable vapes among people aged 18 to 24 is driving the use of highly-addictive nicotine in England.

And while experts said vapes are better than smoking, they warned that they are not risk-free and should not be used by those who have never smoked.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, looked at data on vaping and smoking for 132,252 people in England from July 2016 to May 2023.

Researchers wanted to examine changes in vaping and smoking before and after disposables became popular in June 2021.

Colourful, candy-flavour disposable vapes are marketed to young people and their use among this group has tripled in two years

Colourful, candy-flavour disposable vapes are marketed to young people and their use among this group has tripled in two years 

Unregulated disposable vapes can be sold in sweet shops, novelty shops and even toy shops

Unregulated disposable vapes can be sold in sweet shops, novelty shops and even toy shops

Vapes come in many different flavours, including this one in 'juicy peach'

Vapes come in many different flavours, including this one in ‘juicy peach’

Disposable vapes are usually sold in bright packaging and come in a variety of flavours including pineapple ice and cherry cola.

The study found that, in England up to June 2021, smoking and vaping had been stable or declining across all age groups.

‘However, since disposable vaping started to become popular, vaping has been increasing across all age groups – especially younger adults (18 to 24-year-olds),’ it said.

The proportion of youngsters who said they vaped tripled over the period, rising from nine per cent in May 2021 to 29 per cent in May 2023.

Smoking in this age group declined from 25 per cent to 21 per cent, but overall nicotine use increased from 28 per cent to 35 per cent.

In older age groups, vaping prevalence increased from five per cent to six per cent among those aged over 45, while smoking also increased from 12 per cent to 14 per cent.

The rise in vaping was greatest in people who had never smoked, rising from two per cent to nine per cent in 18 to 24-year-olds.

As of February, a total of 1,009 reactions to vapes have been recorded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Here are the 10 most common reports

As of February, a total of 1,009 reactions to vapes have been recorded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Here are the 10 most common reports

Overall, the researchers said that, after disposables became popular in 2021, the odds of people saying they vaped increased by 99 per cent per year among 18 to 24-year-olds, compared with 39 per cent in 25 to 44-year-olds and 23 per cent in those aged 45 or older.

The team concluded: ‘Since disposable vapes started becoming popular in England, historic declines in nicotine use have reversed.

‘Now, nicotine use appears to be rising, driven primarily by sharp increases in vaping among young people.

‘Smoking declines have been most pronounced in age groups with the largest increases in vaping.

‘Urgent action is needed to curb the rise in disposable vaping among people who would otherwise avoid nicotine entirely.

‘This could include an excise tax, packaging restriction or putting vapes behind shop counters.’

Lead author Dr Harry Tattan-Birch, from University College London (UCL), said: ‘The rapid rise in vaping would be less concerning if smoking rates had come down more rapidly.

‘The overall increase in the use of nicotine shows this has not happened.

‘Instead, driven by the arrival of highly popular disposable e-cigarettes, vaping has become much more common among young people, some of whom would likely otherwise have avoided nicotine entirely.

‘Given these findings, the UK Government’s current Tobacco and Vapes Bill to reduce youth vaping is welcome.’

Senior author Dr Sarah Jackson, also from UCL, said: ‘While action is needed to counter the rise in vaping among young people who otherwise would not use nicotine, policies should avoid signalling that e-cigarettes are a worse alternative to smoking tobacco.

‘Vaping may not be risk-free, but smoking is uniquely lethal.

‘It is also critical that policies designed to make e-cigarettes less attractive to young people do not inadvertently make these products less effective for helping people to stop smoking.

‘Measures that target vaping products’ appearance, packaging, and marketing rather than their flavours and nicotine content may be most effective in striking this balance.’

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said: ‘This study shows a concerning increase in the number of young adults using vapes since disposables came on the market in the UK.

‘Evidence to date shows that vapes are far less harmful than cigarettes, but they can’t be considered risk-free and certainly shouldn’t fall into the hands of children or those who have never smoked.

‘A continued decline in smoking rates is encouraging to see, but we can’t become complacent — smoking is still the biggest cause of cancer in the UK and it’s vital that we protect the next generation from a lifetime of addiction.

‘All parties must ensure the world-leading Tobacco and Vapes Bill is passed through Parliament before the dissolution of Government ahead of a General Election.’

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.

It also aims to cut youth vaping through tighter controls.

However, unless it is passed into law before parliament is dissolved ahead of the July 4 general election, it will be shelved until a new government is in place.

Both the Tories and Labour have said they will revive the bill if they get into power.

The vaping study was published in the journal Lancet Regional Health – Europe.

It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report saying vapes and other new tobacco and nicotine products ‘present a grave threat to youth and tobacco control’.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said: ‘History is repeating, as the tobacco industry tries to sell the same nicotine to our children in different packaging.

‘These industries are actively targeting schools, children and young people with new products that are essentially a candy-flavoured trap.

‘How can they talk about harm reduction when they are marketing these dangerous, highly addictive products to children?’

Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO director of health promotion, said: ‘The use of child-friendly flavours like cotton candy and bubblegum, combined with sleek and colourful designs that resemble toys, is a blatant attempt to addict young people to these harmful products.’



Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More