Despite Government regulation which has increasingly side-lined smokers in society, it’s thought that about 22% of the UK’s adult population still light up on a regular basis.
But the fastest growing trend among people looking for a hit of nicotine is actually ‘vaping’, or to you and me, smoking an electronic cigarette.
Figures show vaping is growing at an incredible rate – e-cigarette sales are up 340%. A report by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) suggests that 11% of daily smokers have now tried e-cigarettes and 25% have used e-cigarettes in the past.
So is vaping the future of smoking?
Well, research would suggest it still has some way to go. When Brits were asked if e-cigarettes should be banned in various places, over 80% of people responded that they should be banned on public transport, 71% said a ban should extend to pubs and more than half even claimed they would like to see them banned in the street.
With the number of people using e-cigarettes on the rise, it seems clear the latest battle ground for anti-smoking campaigners will be the vaping market.
EU lawmakers are currently working on stricter regulations for e-cigarette companies. We spoke to Richard Russell, from electronic cigarette company Diamond Mist: ‘It seems counter-intuitive but we are absolutely in favour of stricter regulation. At the moment, the e-cigarette market has many ethical companies operating within it but there are also plenty of cowboy operators and we believe the public will continue to not have trust in our products while these companies exist.
‘If regulation is what it takes to reduce the market just to companies who care for their customers and operate in the correct way, then we are totally for it.
‘The recent regulations restricting under-18s from buying the products was a good start, but if we are to turn around the kind of polls that tell us the general public want these products banning in the street, despite the fact they only give off water vapour, we need to go much further’.
So where does this leave the future of smoking? Is it in the hands of the ‘smoker’ or will European legislation settle the debate once and for all?