Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 39 (6), 1120-5

Prevalence and Characteristics of E-Cigarette Users in Great Britain: Findings From a General Population Survey of Smokers


Prevalence and Characteristics of E-Cigarette Users in Great Britain: Findings From a General Population Survey of Smokers

Jamie Brown et al. Addict Behav.


Background: E-cigarettes may be effective smoking cessation aids and their use by smokers has been growing rapidly. It is important to observe and assess natural patterns in the use of e-cigarettes whilst experimental data accumulates. This paper reports the prevalence of e-cigarette awareness, beliefs and usage, including brand choice, and characterises the socio-demographic and smoking profile associated with current use, among the general population of smokers and recent ex-smokers.

Methods: Data were obtained from 3538 current and 579 recent ex-smokers in a cross-sectional online survey of a national sample of smokers in Great Britain in November and December 2012. Differences between current and recent ex-smokers in the prevalence of e-cigarette awareness, beliefs and usage were examined and the socio-demographic and smoking profile associated with current use of e-cigarettes was assessed in a series of simple and multiple logistic regressions.

Results: Ninety-three percent of current and recent ex-smokers (n=3841) were aware of e-cigarettes. Approximately a fifth (n=884) were currently using e-cigarettes, whilst just over a third (n=1507) had ever used them. Sixty-seven percent of the sample (n=2758) believed e-cigarettes to be less harmful than cigarettes; however, almost a quarter (n=994) remained unsure. Among both current and recent ex-smokers, the most popular reasons for using were health, cutting down and quitting (each >80%) and 38% used the brand 'E-lites'. Among current smokers who were aware of but had never used e-cigarettes, approximately half (n=1040) were interested in using them in the future. Among current smokers, their use was associated with higher socio-economic status (OR=1.48, 95%CI=1.25-1.75), smoking more cigarettes (OR=1.02, 95%CI=1.01-1.03) and having a past-year quit attempt (OR=2.82, 95%CI=2.38-3.34).

Conclusions: There is a near universal awareness of e-cigarettes and their use appears to be common among smokers in Great Britain although a quarter of all smokers are unsure as to whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes. E-lites - a brand that delivers a low dose of nicotine - is the most popular. E-cigarette users appear to have higher socio-economic status, to smoke more cigarettes per day and to have attempted to quit in the past year.

Keywords: Cessation; E-cigarettes; Electronic cigarettes; Quitting; Smoking.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 92 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Adkison S.E., O'Connor R.J., Bansal-Travers M., Hyland A., Borland R., Yong H.H. Electronic nicotine delivery systems: International tobacco control four-country survey. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;44(3):207–215. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Beard E., West R. Use of nicotine replacement therapy for smoking reduction and temporary abstinence: An update of Beard et al. (2011) Addiction. 2012;107(6):1186–1187. - PubMed
    1. Bullen C., Howe C., Laugesen M., McRobbie H., Parag V., Williman J. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: A randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. 2013;382(9905):1629–1637. - PubMed
    1. Bullen C., McRobbie H., Thornley S., Glover M., Lin R., Laugesen M. Effect of an electronic nicotine delivery device (e cigarette) on desire to smoke and withdrawal, user preferences and nicotine delivery: Randomised cross-over trial. Tobacco Control. 2010;19(2):98–103. - PubMed
    1. Caponnetto P., Campagna D., Cibella F., Morjaria J.B., Caruso M., Russo C. EffiCiency and Safety of an eLectronic cigAreTte (ECLAT) as tobacco cigarettes substitute: A prospective 12-month randomized control design study. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(6):e66317. - PMC - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms