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Smoking cessation

Regular e-cigarette use remains low in young people and stable in adults, PHE report finds

Regular use of e-cigarettes remains low among young people, with just 1.7% of those aged 11–18 years in England reporting at least weekly use in 2018, according to a report commissioned by Public Health England (PHE).

In adults, vaping prevalence has remained stable since 2015 and is estimated to be highest in current smokers (14.9–18.5%) and ex-smokers (10.3–11.3%) with ‘quitting smoking’ being the main motivation for use.

The PHE report, which is the first in a series of three commissioned under the government’s ‘Tobacco control plan for England’, focuses mainly on the latest evidence on prevalence and characteristics of e-cigarette use in young people and adults in England.

It found that the proportion of young people who have never been regular smokers, but used an e-cigarette at least weekly, remained very low (0.2% of those aged 11–18 years in 2018). However, the proportion of young people who have experimented with vaping is increasing, the report said. In 2018, 15.9% of people aged 11–18 years said they had tried vaping, were former vapers, or currently used electronic cigarettes, compared with 8.1% in 2014.

“In contrast to recent media reports in the United States, we are not seeing a surge in e-cigarette use among young people in Britain,” said John Newton, health improvement director at PHE.

“While more young people are experimenting with e-cigarettes, the crucial point is that regular use remains low and is very low indeed among those who have never smoked.

“We will keep a close watch on young people’s vaping and smoking habits to ensure we stay on track to achieve our ambition of a smoke-free generation.”

The report also said that combining e-cigarettes with face-to-face smoking cessation support should remain a recommended option available to all smokers wanting to quit, and has called for healthcare professionals supporting smokers to receive education and training in the use of e-cigarettes in quit attempts.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206230

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