According to a recent survey reported by British newspaper The Guardian, e-cigarette users in Britain are overwhelmingly current smokers or ex-smokers who use e-cigs to quit smoking or cut down on their use of cigarettes, and use of electronic cigarettes by non-smokers is described as "negligible". This British e-cigarette usage survey, conducted by anti-smoking non-profit Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), found that, while e-cigarette use is increasing dramatically, almost all of these new e-cig users were ex-smokers using the devices to quit smoking or current tobacco users who were using e-cigarettes to reduce the number of traditional analog cigarettes smoked, to save money compared with smoking tobacco, or to help with the process of quitting entirely. This differs from the characterization by many electronic cigarette critics who claim that statistics showing an increase in vaping imply that e-cigarettes are attracting new nicotine users. The findings are similar to Smoking Toolkit Study results published by University College London (UCL) which indicate that e-cigarettes are replacing nicotine gum and patches as an aid to quit smoking.
These ASH study findings were released on the very day that a consultation on e-cigarette advertising carried out by The Advertising Standards Authority is closing. The consultation has been examining concerns from public health doctors that current marketing encourages non-smokers to try electronic cigarettes and that vaping will be a gateway to traditional cigarettes. The ASH and UCL studies, however, suggest that these concerns are unfounded. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, arrived at the following conclusion:
"While it is important to control the advertising of electronic cigarettes to make sure children and non-smokers are not being targeted, there is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking."
The leader of the UCL Smoking Toolkit Study, professor Robert West, added his observations:
"Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks re-normalizing smoking, we found no evidence to support this view. On the contrary, electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking as more people use them as an aid to quitting."
The Guardian goes on to report that these findings have been the contention of the e-cigarette industry all along, and that these findings prove that organizations who oppose the use of e-cigarettes have been wrong in their mis-characterization of vaping statistics. Charles Hamshaw-Thomas, legal and corporate affairs director of UK-based E-Lites cigarettes, stated the following:
"Study after study is showing that scaremongering that e-cigarettes are luring people into tobacco is baseless nonsense. The reverse is going on – smokers are switching into e-cigarettes as the way to reduce the harm from tobacco,"