The number of smokers in the UK has reduced dramatically over the past fifty years, with the current figure of 9.1 million the lowest level since records began. Despite this, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the UK, killing an estimated 100,000 people each year – more than the next five largest causes of preventable death combined.

Wider use of e-cigarettes by smokers is one promising tool for helping tackle this serious public health issue. 

Tobacco related deaths this year:

Key points

  • E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than cigarettes, with increasing evidence that they can aid smoking cessation
  • Among smokers who have never vaped, only 1 in 8 (12%) correctly believe e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than cigarettes
  • Specialist vape stores are the visible face of e-cigarettes on the high street, with supermarkets, convenience stores and online stores also major retailers
  • There are 1,700 specialist vape stores in the UK, with around 650 of these opening in 2016
  • An RSPH investigation found that almost 9 in 10 vape stores are knowingly or unwittingly encouraging non-smokers to begin vaping

Calls to action

  • E-cigarette retailers to adhere to a code of best practice
  • Business rates relief to be considered as a means to incentivise small retailers to no longer sell tobacco products
  • An end to tobacco advertising in trade publications
  • All local stop smoking services to become e-cigarette friendly
  • MHRA to encourage and support more e-cigarette manufacturers through the medicinal licensing process, so that suitable products can be prescribed on the NHS