Youth vaping has plateaued while adult vaping is at an all-time high, figures reveal

17 May 2024

Action on Smoking and Health’s (ASH) annual surveys of young people and adults have found that 11 per cent of British adults vape, up from nine per cent in 2023.

Vaping rates among 11–17-year-olds have not increased, with 7.6 per cent of young people vaping occasionally or regularly and 17 per cent having ever vaped, similar to the levels reported in 2023.

The data will be presented at the International E-cigarette Summit in Washington on May 14, 2024.

Despite the apparent slowing in youth vaping uptake, there is no room for complacency. The proportion of current vaping among 11-17-year-olds is still significantly up from pre-pandemic levels (7.6 per cent in 2024 compared to 4.4 per cent in 2019).

Exposure to vape marketing remains high among young people; only 19 per cent say they don’t see vapes being promoted. Young people are most likely to see vapes promoted in shops (55 per cent) followed by online (29 per cent). TikTok is where 11-17-year-olds most frequently report seeing online promotions.

In addition to charting the current levels of vaping among adults and youth, ASH also assesses the level of public understanding about the relative safety of vaping compared to smoking. This year has seen public understanding plunge to an all-time low, with half of all adults (50 per cent) and more than half (58 per cent) of 11-17-year-olds believing vaping is as bad for health, or worse than smoking.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said, “The Tobacco and Vapes Bill includes the powers needed to bring youth vaping down and must be enacted swiftly. However, getting adults to quit smoking is important for children’s health too. The evidence has grown that vaping is less harmful than smoking, but public understanding has gone in the other direction.

“It is to be hoped that 2024 can be a turning point and youth vaping will fall, alongside an improvement in public understanding about the role vaping can play in helping the UK’s 6 million smokers stop.”

ASH’s survey was conducted by YouGov in Feb/March 2024. The sample included 13,266 adults and 2,349 11–17-year-olds.