Adults who vape in the North East are around twice as likely to want to quit smoking
New data from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)  shows around 9% of adults or around 4.7m people in Great Britain are vaping. It shows over 90% of current vapers are past or current smokers and most actively engaged in quitting or abstaining from smoking.
Separate figures from a survey in the North East also shows adults who vape but still smoke are around twice as likely to want to quit smoking (2) and twice as likely to be trying to cut down or quit, with:
- 73% of vapers saying they REALLY want to quit smoking compared to 38% of non-vapers
- 78% of vapers in the process of trying to cut down or quit smoking compared to 36% of non-vapers
Evidence shows tobacco smoking kills 2 out of 3 smokers  which is why health professionals are advised to recommend vaping as a means of quitting.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said: “These latest figures show vaping is used and trusted as a means by smokers to cut down or quit. We do need to ensure children are not taking up vaping but help adult smokers to switch.
“If you vape but still smoke it’s important to stop smoking completely. Tobacco is full of tar and cancer-causing chemicals and even “light” smoking still raises your risks of cancer and heart disease.
“If you’ve cut down, the best thing is to now take the next step and stop smoking tobacco.”
Rachel Nichol, CGL Project Manager at Newcastle Stop Smoking Service, said: “Newcastle Stop Smoking Service promotes vaping as an aid to quit smoking simply because vaping is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes.
“Vaping significantly reduces exposure to the poisons in tobacco which cause the illness and disease. Vaping is also a popular aid because it mimics the hand to mouth action of a cigarette and users get a similar sensation. E-liquids also come in different strengths and flavours which gives the user more choice and control over how much nicotine they need to quit.”
Dr Ruth Sharrock is a respiratory consultant and Clinical Lead for Tobacco Dependency, North East and North Cumbria NHS Integrated Care Board. She added: “When I see patients who smoke they are already sick with smoking-related disease and have often given up hope of ever stopping.
“Vaping is a valuable tool to tackle smoking, particularly for patients who are heavily addicted. However, too many of my patients have seen alarmist media headlines that worry them and put them off giving vaping a go.”
Alice Wiseman, Gateshead Council’s Director of Public Health and policy lead for addiction at the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “Tobacco smoking is our biggest killer and cause of cancer and the North East has seen the highest rates of death and disease.
“We need to help prevent children from vaping but still continue to give adults who smoke every chance to quit – whether that is through vaping, nicotine replacement or local support, and ensure they are not scared off an option which could be life-saving.”
Vaping is the most popular aid to quitting and one of the most effective  but the survey by ASH also suggests millions of smokers are missing out on the opportunity to switch and improve health, despite robust evidence vaping is substantially less harmful .
- 27% of smokers (around 1.8 million) have never tried vaping
- 43% of smokers (around 2.9 million) have tried vaping but returned to smoking
- 39% of smokers believe vaping is as or more harmful than smoking compared to 22% in 2019 – despite robust evidence vaping is effective and less harmful
- Among smokers yet to try vaping, around 43% believe vaping is as harmful or more harmful than smoking.
Alongside new data on adult vaping ASH is publishing a ‘myth buster’  challenging common misrepresentations of the evidence on vaping and to allay fears among adult smokers around switching. This has been developed with the country’s leading experts on smoking and vaping and provides evidence to underpin that:
Vaping is NOT more harmful than smoking
- Vaping is NOT more addictive than smoking
- Vaping is NOT a proven gateway into smoking
- Nicotine DOES NOT damage young people’s brain development
ASH is also warning misplaced fears about vaping could not only condemn many patients to the diseases of smoking but also risk the success of the Government’s ‘Swap to Stop’ scheme  aiming to provide a million vape kits to help smokers stop.
Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive of ASH said: “The Government has backed a vaping strategy as its path to reduce rates of smoking, but this approach will be undermined if smokers don’t try vapes due to safety fears or stop vaping too soon and revert to smoking. The Government must act quickly to improve public understanding that vaping poses a fraction of the risk of smoking.
“Teenagers are not vaping because they think it’s safe. Harm perceptions are even more inaccurate among teens than the adult population. They are vaping because products appeal to them and are easily accessible. Further regulation will be more effective than scare mongering. Worse, if teenagers who experiment with vaping think that smoking is just as bad then they may be more likely to smoke.”
Professor Ann McNeill, King’s College London, author of Government commissioned review on the harms from vaping  and contributor to the ASH myth buster, commented:
“Anxiety over youth vaping is obscuring the fact that switching from smoking to vaping will be much better for an individual’s health. It is wrong to say we have no idea what the future risks from vaping will be. On the contrary levels of exposure to cancer causing and other toxicants are drastically lower in people who vape compared with those who smoke, which indicates that any risks to health are likely to be a fraction of those posed by smoking.
“We must not be complacent about youth vaping and further regulation is needed, but so too is work to ensure many more adults stop smoking and vaping is an effective means of doing that’.”
The 2023 ASH survey of children find that among children aged 11-17 smoking rates remain low at 3.6% of children and around 7.6% of children regularly vape and around 11.6% of children have tried vaping .
 For the full fact sheet please email All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 12271 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22/02/2023 – 15/03/2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults. (aged 18+). Data is weighted by age, gender, region, education status, social grade, and ethnicity. Population estimates were undertaken by ASH using ONS mid-year estimates.
 Independent survey of 773 North East and North Cumbria smokers and recent quitters for Fresh
 “2 out of 3 smokers will die from smoking unless they quit” The Khan review – “Making smoking obsolete”. Independent review commissioned by the UK Government into smokefree 2030 policies by Dr Javed Khan OBE, Published 9 June 2022
“Up to two-thirds of deaths in current smokers can be attributed to smoking”. Cessation reduces mortality compared with continuing to smoke, with cessation earlier in life resulting in greater reductions. E. Banks, G. Joshy, M.F. Weber, B. Liu, R. Grenfell, S. Egger, E. Paige, A.D. Lopez, F. Sitas, V. Beral. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Medicine 2015: volume 13, number 38
 Cochrane ‘living review’ of vaping effectiveness: https://www.cochrane.org/news/latest-cochrane-review-finds-high-certainty-evidence-nicotine-e-cigarettes-are-more-effective
 April 2023 Minister O’Brien speech: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/minister-neil-obrien-speech-on-achieving-smokefree-2030-cutting-smoking-and-stopping-kids-vaping
 ASH Myth buster on vaping – link to come
 OHID commissioned report from King’s College London: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nicotine-vaping-in-england-2022-evidence-update