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Wales’s leading tobacco control action group, ASH Wales, welcomes new research into the prevalence and frequency of e-cigarette use among young people in Wales.

This latest study - released yesterday by Cardiff University’s Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement ‘DECIPHer’ unit - surveyed 32,479 secondary school pupils from across Wales. 

Despite the research reporting an increase in usage among young people, the report also showed e-cigarettes are not providing a new pathway into smoking.

The number of young, regular smokers has been falling year-on-year and rates now stand at around 8% for 15 and 16 year olds in Wales. From the evidence gathered, the increasing use of e-cigarettes does not appear to have led to an increase in the number of young people smoking. 

E-cigarettes are the number one cessation tool for adults who are trying to give up smoking and ASH Wales would encourage anyone who is addicted to tobacco to try switching to an e-cigarette. ASH Wales views e-cigarettes solely as a smoking cessation aid and strongly discourage their use recreationally, particularly among young people and never smokers.

We are aware from our own work with young people that there are increasing numbers experimenting with e-cigarettes and this is something that needs to be monitored. Evidence to date suggested that regular use among never and non-smokers is very low, a finding confirmed by the study which states that just one in 100 never and non-smokers regularly used an e-cigarette. 

ASH Wales has been working with young smokers across Wales for the past five years, helping hundreds to quit smoking and some to never start. Since January 2016, more than 380 young people in Wales have asked for our support to help them quit smoking.

ASH Wales youth worker, Andrew Foster, said: “We’ve encountered a number of young people who are not cigarette smokers but use e-cigarettes just because they see it as the next big trend – they’re initially attracted by the plumes they can make and the different flavours. Young people see e-cigarettes as the latest ‘fad’ item rather than anything related to smoking. We are also starting to see that e-cigarettes play a role with being accepted into traditional social groups of smokers, in the sense that it is a must-have object even for smokers who are not necessarily using the device to help them to quit smoking.”

ASH Wales is committed to reviewing the evidence and welcomes further research on e-cigarette usage and their long term effects. ASH Wales provides evidenced-based direction and support to help reduce smoking prevalence in Wales.