How many adults vape in Australia?
Posted on February 18, 2019
In spite of the legal restrictions on vaping nicotine in Australia, 227,000 or 1.2% of the population aged 18 years or above reported current vaping in 2016.
The authors note that
Australia 'remains the only westernised democracy that prohibits the sale, and possession or use of non-therapeutic nicotine containing e-cigarettes'
Essentially, smokers who are unable to quit have a choice of continuing to smoke with all the risks of disease and death from smoking, or breaking the law and vaping nicotine to reduce their risk. Citizens should not be put in this position.
Patterns of use
The researchers identified several patterns.
- 57% of vapers were not smoking and the remaining 43% were smoking and vaping (dual use). For many smokers trying to quit, there is a transition period of smoking and vaping where the smoker experiments with different devices and adjusts to vaping. Dual users are more likely to go on to quit smoking.
- Smokers intending to quit were more likely to be vaping daily. This is an important finding as daily vaping is more likely to help smokers quit. Those who are not vaping daily appear less serious about quitting and are less likely to have a benefit.
- Indigenous adults were 3 times more likely to be daily vapers than non-Indigenous people.
- As in other national surveys, vaping is also more likely in smokers and ex-smokers, males, younger people, those with psychological stress and cannabis users.
Potential benefit for Australian smokers
The historical decline in smoking rates has stalled in Australia since 2013 and new and effective strategies are needed. Vaping has the potential to help many smokers quit.
The role of vaping was confirmed by a recent randomised controlled trial which found that vaping is almost TWICE as effective as nicotine replacement products such as the nicotine patch and gum.
Vaping rates could increase substantially in Australia if nicotine was legalised for vaping and was readily available for adult smokers
The higher rate of daily vaping in Indigenous people suggests that vaping may be helpful in reducing Indigenous smoking rates, which are THREE times higher than non-Indigenous rates.
The same applies for smokers with mental illness who also have high smoking rates.