Key messages from the twelve surveys analysed are grouped by whether referring to the adult population (16+ or 18+) or children (aged 10-17).
- The percentage of adults in Scotland reporting current use (generally includes those who vape once a week or more and those who vape only occasionally) is likely to be somewhere between 5% according to the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS 2021) and 13.2% as shown by the Smoking Toolkit Study (STS 2022).
- The most recent data suggest that the percentage reporting current vaping has increased over time. For example, the Smoking Toolkit Study shows that prevalence in Scotland was 7.3% in October 2020 compared to 13.2% in October 2022; the ASH SmokeFree GB Survey that prevalence increased from 4.2% in 2014 to 8.3% in 2022; and previously the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) that prevalence was 3.7% in 2014 compared to 7.7% in 2021 across the UK.
- The percentage reporting having ever tried vaping is estimated to be around 15% (16% according to SHeS 2021 SHeS 2021, 15% according to Understanding Society 2020/21 and 15% according to the Health Survey for England 2021).
- The vaping trend for those reporting having ever tried is uncertain. The Health Survey for England (HSE) 2021 suggests it has decreased, the Understanding Society 2020/21 survey that it has increased and the Scottish Health Survey 2021 that there has been no change.
- Current vaping is less common in older age groups, according to STS 2022, SHeS 2021, OPN 2021, Understanding Society 2020/21 and HSE 2021.
- In Scotland, a large percentage (around 40%) of those who currently vape are also smoking tobacco (dual use) according to SHeS 2021, STS 2022 and Understanding Society 2020/21. Other surveys for England (HSE 2021 and STS 2022), Wales (STS 2022), UK (OPN 2021 and Understanding Society 2020/21) and Great Britain (ASH 2022) estimate around a quarter to a half of those who currently vape are dual users.
- Vaping is more common in more disadvantaged groups with consistent findings whether assessing by social grade or class (STS 2022 and ASH 2022), income or deprivation quintile (SHeS 2021 and Understanding Society 2020/21).
- The proportion reporting regular vaping (once a week or more) varies between 0.2% for UK 10-15 year olds (Understanding Society 2020/21) and 6.7% for Scottish 13 and 15 year olds (Health and Wellbeing Census 2021/22).
- Although presenting differences in sample by age, surveys from across the UK show that the percentage of current users (both regular and occasional) could be somewhere between 1.1% of 10-15 year olds (Understanding Society 2020/21) and 7% of 11-17 year olds (ASH GB Youth Survey 2022).
- Current use may be increasing. According to the most recent data from the ASH GB Youth survey, the rate among 11-17 year olds was 7% in 2022, up from 3.3% in 2021 and 4.1% in 2020. When compared to data from the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2018, the Health and Wellbeing Census 2021/22 (Scotland) also shows an increase in current use from 2% to 4.3% among S2 pupils and from 3% to 10.1% among S4 pupils.
- The most recent data on prevalence among children who have ever tried vaping comes from the ASH GB Youth Survey 2022, which reports 15.8% for 11-17 year olds. Prevalence estimates have varied widely between different surveys (from 6.3% for 10-15 year olds in Understanding Society 2020/21 to 22% for 11-16 year olds in the Welsh Student Health and Wellbeing Survey 2019/20), but different age ranges and years contribute to the variation.
- The vaping trend for young people reporting having ever tried is uncertain. Some surveys show an increase (SALSUS 2018 and ASH GB Youth Survey 2022), while Understanding Society 2020/21 records no change and the Student Health and Wellbeing Survey 2019/20 a decrease.
- Average figures for children and young people may mask wide differences by age. Ever having tried vaping becomes more common as children age. For example, SALSUS 2018 showed that 28% of 15 year olds in Scotland had ever tried vaping compared to 15% of 13 year olds. The Growing Up in Scotland survey (GUS) 2019 and 2022 showed 7% when participants were 12 year olds compared to 21.5% when they were 14 year olds.
- Smokers or those who have ever tried a tobacco cigarette are more likely to have tried vaping than non-smokers or those who have never tried a tobacco cigarette. Dual use is also common. For example, the ASH GB Youth Survey 2022 estimated that 55.4% of current vapers aged 11-17 were dual users.
- Surveys in Scotland (GUS 2019, GUS 2022 and Health and Wellbeing Census 2021/22) and Wales (Student Health and Wellbeing Survey 2019/20) suggest ever having tried or currently vaping appear more common in more disadvantaged or less affluent groups.
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