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E-cigarettes now the most popular quit smoking tool in Wales

E-cigarettes are by far the most common quit smoking tool in Wales, according to new figures published by Welsh Government.

In the past year more than twice as many Welsh smokers chose e-cigarettes as their quit smoking aid compared to patches or gum.

According to the latest figures from the National Survey for Wales, of the 467,000 smokers – 45% tried to give up last year, with 49% choosing e-cigarettes whilst 22% tried nicotine patches, inhaler or gum.

Of the smokers that tried to quit 5% used other quit smoking medication or consulted a pharmacist and 3% called a quit smoking helpline.

Across Wales, 6% of adults now reportedly use e-cigarettes with the vast majority (76%) saying they started vaping as a way to give up smoking tobacco.

Of the e-cigarette users surveyed, 50% were smokers, 49% were ex-smokers and only 1% had never smoked.

ASH Wales CEO Suzanne Cass said the figures showed just how effective e-cigarettes can be as a smoking cessation tool:

“Over 5,000 people in Wales are dying every year from a tobacco related illness and e-cigarettes are proving to be a vital weapon in our armoury against this deadly addiction.

“Research has shown e-cigarettes are the most effective stop smoking tool available when combined with behavioural support. We would advise all smokers to seek help and quit in whichever way suits them best.

“The fact that so many Welsh smokers are switching from tobacco to vaping, proves just how popular this quit smoking tool is and what an opportunity there is to reach the remaining 30% of smokers that have yet to give it a try.”

Smoking prevalence in Wales has fallen to 17% – a 2 percentage point drop since the 2016-17 survey was carried out. 29% of the adult population are ex-smokers and 54% have never smoked – a 2% increase.

Smoking remains highest among the most deprived communities in Wales with 20% of those in the 3 most deprived quintiles smoking compared to 14% in the least deprived.

The survey also looked at exposure to second-hand smoke and found that 29% of non-smokers have been exposed to tobacco smoke indoors or outdoors – a fall of 5% since 2016-17.

According to the latest research from Public Health England, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking as e-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements found in cigarette smoke. Although, there is a 5% risk that vaping could be harmful, this is just a fraction of the harm caused by tobacco cigarettes, which contain 4,000 chemicals, 50 of which cause cancer.

Ideally e-cigarettes should only be used as a smoking cessation tool and ASH Wales would strongly discourage anybody from vaping if they are not a smoker.