New research from the ASH Smokefree GB Youth Survey published today (17th August) in the journal Public Health and backed by further data from the 2015 wave, finds no evidence that young people are being recruited to smoking through their use of electronic cigarettes.
Experimentation increased over three years with 4% of 11-18 year olds saying they tried electronic cigarettes ‘once or twice’ in 2013 rising to 10% in 2015. However, regular use of electronic cigarettes remained rare across all three years with 2.4% of young people saying they use electronic cigarettes at least once a month in 2015. Almost all of those reporting regular use were young people who had been or were currently smokers.
The most recent Government statistics show that the decline in the number of young people smoking has continued. In 2014, regular smoking among 11-15 year olds was at an all-time low of 3%.
The authors were concerned, however, about the increase in false perceptions about electronic cigarettes. Although most young people correctly believe that electronic cigarettes are less harmful that smoking tobacco, between 2013 and 2015 the proportion believing that the electronic devices are as equally as harmful increased from 11% to 21%.
In 2015 the survey also asked for the first time about the flavours young people were using. Young people who smoked were more likely to have tried tobacco flavours while fruit flavours were most popular overall.