Kickstarting a brand-new season of GFN News on GFN•TV, Martin Cullip and Joanna Junak review the latest vaping prevalence data from the UK and the "patronising" responses to these figures from the UK media.
Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 0:46 - UK smoking rates fall to record low levels 1:35 - UK smokers ditch cigarettes for safer products 2:23 - 8.7% of UK population regularly or occasionally vape 2:55 - Young people aged 18-24 have highest vaping prevalence in UK 4:24 - "Patronising" media coverage of latest vaping prevalence data 5:58 - Rewatch #GFN23 sessions on the Global Forum on Nicotine Youtube channel!
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Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Last week the UK Office for National Statistics published data on adult smoking and vaping habits in the UK in 2022. The research shows that the proportion of current smokers has fallen to an historical low level. Joining us today to comment on the data and what factors has an influence on the survey findings is Martin Kalab, International Fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Consumer Centre. Hello, Martin. It's nice to see you again on the programme. First, what did the research uncover about UK smoking habits?
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Martin Cullip: Well it found that once again there's a reduction in the number of people who smoke cigarettes in the UK and it's now at the lowest proportion of current smokers since the records began in 2011. It's reduced to 12.9% down from 13.3% the last time round. It's a decline, but not a swift decline, not swift enough to reach the smoke-free 2030 target. It also found that England is doing better than Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. England's rate is about 12.7%, whereas the other countries in the UK are hovering around about 14%.
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Joanna Junak: What do you think has caused the rate to fall?
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Martin Cullip: It seems to be a migration in many cases from cigarette use to using nicotine in other forms. So you see this direct substitution, while you see smoking rate going down, you see the e-cigarettes rate going up. And that seems to be the general shift. I mean, there's not much change by way of regulation on cigarettes in the last year. it seems to be a direct substitution happening between cigarette use and using safer nicotine products.
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Joanna Junak: And how about vaping habits in the UK? Did the research reveal any changes to this?
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Martin Cullip: Yeah, e-cigarette use has increased again. So again, this is the highest rate of e-cigarette use that we've seen. There are now about 4.5 million adults saying they currently use an e-cigarette daily or occasionally. This is up from last year, which is a high of itself, from 7.7%. So it's moved up to 8.7%.
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Joanna Junak: Why do you think the vaping rate has changed in some age groups?
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Martin Cullip: It seems to be driven mostly by younger people. The highest use of e-cigarettes was those aged 16 to 24. Whereas if you look at the statistics, I mean, the people over 60 vaping is still only around 4%, just over 4%. Still a rise in those over 60s. using e-cigarettes but not as dramatic as those of younger age, which 16 to 24 year olds saw a big rise. So again, it seems to be that there's a substitution effect where with the different forms of nicotine available, younger people are more inclined to use e-cigarettes these days than they are to smoke, which should be seen really as a good thing. I mean, It seems that they're shunning smoking, but embracing vaping. It looks like we see that in the younger age of 16 to 25, there's almost as many people vaping now as smoking. There's very little difference. So it seems to be that the vaping rate in the younger age groups will overtake the smoking rate, maybe next year, very, very soon.
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Joanna Junak: Final question to you, Martin. How did the UK media report on this story?
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Martin Cullip: Strangely, they all seem to focus on the increase in vaping in younger females, 16 to 24 year old females. From 2021, there was 1.9% used vaping products, and now they're up to 6.7%. And all of the BBC, The Guardian, all the media seemed to focus on this, that there was a dramatic increase in young females using e-cigarettes. It's almost implying that somehow this is shameful that women are vaping. I mean, as far as I consider it, women are just people like the rest of us. It seems very patronising to highlight that. An article in the Guardian, for example, didn't report on on the on the fact that we have the lowest smoking rate ever until paragraph nine of their report, almost as if it was inconsequential. But this is this is very, very important, because what we're seeing here is the same as what we're seeing in other countries in the US. investors are talking about how there's pressure on the sales of cigarettes by the migration of younger consumers to more novel nicotine products. So I think really there's this moral panic happening around the use of e-cigarettes, which is exemplified by the way the media reported this is, oh my god, you know, lots of younger females are using e-cigarettes now, but it really largely ignores the much more significant dramatic drop in the use of cigarettes, which really is the story or should be the story here.
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Joanna Junak: Thank you, Martin. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our new podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time. you