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Number of UK smokers falls even as e-cigarettes gain in popularity

By Ikaba Koyi

Date: Friday 16 Jun 2017

Number of UK smokers falls even as e-cigarettes gain in popularity

(ShareCast News) - A report from the Office for National Statistics revealed a marked decrease in the number of adult smokers last year even as demand for e-cigarettes increased.
In 2016, only 15.8% of adults in the UK smoked; a clear reduction from 2015 when 17.2% did so.

"In 2016, 17.7% of men in the UK were current smokers which was markedly higher in comparison to 14.1% of women" the report said, with adults between the ages of 18 to 24 experiencing the sharpest decline in smoking since 2010.

The general decline of cigarette smokers in the UK could be due to a number of measures and efforts by the government to clamp down on smoking. In 2015, for example, shops were banned from openly displaying cigarettes and in May of 2016 reforms to EU laws on selling tobacco were introduced.

In a continuation of that trend, earlier this year the government clamped down further on cigarettes by ordering retailers to phase out logos and bright colours in 12 months. Packets of 10 cigarettes and bags of tobacco smaller than 30g have also been banned, and a pack of cigarettes now costs at least £8.81

The report's findings also revealed that millions were now using e-cigarettes as an alternative. According to ONS: "2.9 million individuals in Great Britain used e-cigarettes in 2016. Those aged 16 to 24, were more likely to have tried an e-cigarette, compared to older age groups."

Major cigarette brands have invested in e-cigarettes with the likes of Imperial recruiting cannabis expert Simon Langelier to its board as a non-executive in an effort to accelerate the company's move into vaping, smoke free nicotine products and cannabis.

Earlier this year, former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also championed cannabis, claiming "cannabis would improve public health".

Scotland and Wales saw the largest decrease in the ranks of current smokers.

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