THE NUMBER of kids who have tried vaping has doubled in just four years, official data reveals.
Health bosses admit e-cigarette “experimentation” among young people is on the rise.
Getty – Contributor The number of kids vaping has doubled in the last four years, health figures show
But they claim regular take-up still remains low.
A Public Health England report shows 15.9 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds had either tried e-cigs or were users last year.
It compares with 8.1 per cent in 2014.’We must stay vigilant on kids’ smoking’
Officials admit the steep rise means they must remain “vigilant” on youth smoking.
Professor John Newton, Health Improvement Director at PHE, said: “While more young people are experimenting with e-cigarettes, the crucial point is that regular use remains low and is very low indeed among those who have never smoked.
“We will keep a close watch on young people’s vaping and smoking habits to ensure we stay on track to achieve our ambition of a smoke-free generation.”
The report shows one in 500 teens who have never touched tobacco use e-cigs regularly.
And the proportion trying vaping before smoking rose from 8 per cent in 2014 to 21 per cent in 2018.
Number of adult vapers levels out
However, the number of adults taking up the devices has now levelled out – with around six per cent using them.
It compares with 15 per cent of Brits still smoking.
PHE bosses are keen for adults to ditch tobacco and take up e-cigarettes instead.
Stub it out
One Brit a minute is admitted to hospital due to cigarette use, with 79,000 people in England killed annually.
Officials also want the gadgets to be given medical licences so GPs can dole them out for free on prescription.
But critic Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said increased teen use raises “significant concerns”.
He said: “While the number of adolescents currently using e-cigarettes is still considerably lower in the UK than in the USA, it must surely be concerning that the rates are increasing so rapidly.”
The latest official e-cig report was compiled by experts from King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh.
The devices work by heating liquid-filled cartridges to produce water vapour and a nicotine hit.
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Report author Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at KCL, said: “We are encouraged that regular vaping among young people in Britain who have never smoked remains low.
“However, we need to stay vigilant and in particular closely monitor youth smoking.”
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of quit charity ASH, said one in three smokers had not tried vaping.
She said: “It is a colossal missed opportunity as there is growing evidence that e-cigarettes are the most effective aid to quitting.”
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