For the first time, less than half the people in Great Britain who use e-cigarettes also smoke tobacco cigarettes, according to new Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) figures.
The annual survey carried out by YouGov found around 2.9 million adults use e-cigarettes, with 1.3 million of these also smoking tobacco.
The main reason given in the study for using e-cigarettes was to help stop smoking entirely.
Professor Ann McNeill, from King’s College London, said finding that the majority of e-cigarette users are now ex-smokers was “encouraging news”. But the figures show many still ‘dual-use’ tobacco cigarettes alongside e-cigarettes.
Alyssa Best, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy adviser, said the findings were valuable for showing how and why people use e-cigarettes.
“The evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes are far safer than tobacco. So it’s great news that more and more vapers are going on to give up smoking altogether – which is the best thing a smoker can do for their health.
“Cancer Research UK is continuing to invest in research to find out more about their potential to help smokers ditch tobacco for good,” she said
Since 2012, the number of people using e-cigarettes has risen from 700,000 to 2.9 million.
But, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “There are still 9 million smokers compared to only 1.5 million vapers who don’t smoke at all.”
The rise in people using e-cigarettes has also slowed in recent years, with fewer smokers understanding the reduced risk of vaping compared to smoking tobacco, said ASH.
“The rapid growth in e-cigarette use has come to an end while over a third of smokers have still never tried e-cigarettes, saying the main reasons are concerns about the safety and addictiveness of e-cigarettes,” said Arnott.
Many people over-estimate the risk posed by e-cigarettes, with just 13% of those involved in the study believing that the devices are a lot less harmful than smoking. More than a quarter (26%) think they are more or equally harmful.