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Trends in electronic cigarette use in Wales

Vera Buss, Loren Kock, Robert West, Emma Beard, Dimitra Kale, Jamie Brown

Updated 16th October 2023


Electronic cigarette use has become prevalent in many countries

In Wales, electronic cigarettes are currently regulated as consumer products

It is important to track use of electronic cigarettes and assess how far they appear to be promoting or detracting from reduction in prevalence of cigarette smoking


To track use of electronic cigarettes over time and assess how far any increase is accompanied by changes in:

  • use of other aids to cessation or smoking reduction
  • key performance indicators for tobacco control (smoking prevalence, smoking cessation rates, attempts to stop smoking, success of attempts to stop smoking

To assess prevalence of use of electronic cigarettes in people who have never smoked regularly or stopped for more than a year

To estimate changes in the total tobacco and nicotine market


Monthly household surveys

Each month involves a new representative sample (18 and over) of ~300 respondents.

Due to the pandemic, from April 2020 surveys conducted by telephone (rather than face-to-face) and among adults aged 18 and over.

From January 2022 data collection resumed among those aged 16 and over.

Kock et al., (2021). Protocol for expansion of an existing national monthly survey of smoking behaviour and alcohol use in England to Scotland and Wales: The Smoking and Alcohol Toolkit Study. Wellcome Open Research6(67), 67.

Summary I

An estimated 8-11% of the adult population in Wales use e-cigarettes

Use of Juul and heated tobacco products is rare

Approximately 1 in 8 long-term ex-smokers (quit >1 year) use e-cigarettes, but use among never smokers is relatively rare

Around half of all EC users are dual users (also smoke)

A smaller proportion of e-cigarette daily users are ‘dual users’ (also smoke)

Summary II

The majority of e-cigarettes used contain nicotine

Ex-smokers use e-liquids with lower concentrations of nicotine compared to smokers. A minority did not know the strength

Specialist vape shops (including online specialist) are the most popular source for purchase

Summary III

Approximately 1 in 4 smokers use e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are the most popular aid used in a smoking quit attempt

Summary IV

Around 30-40% of smokers believe that e-cigarettes and cigarettes are equally harmful.

Roughly 1 in 4 smokers believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than cigarettes and a similar proportion believe they are less harmful.