Middle-aged Britons are taking up vaping at the fastest rate of any age group as they seek to join the “fashionable trend”, a survey suggests.
Although 18 to 24-year-olds are the most likely to vape, rising from 24% in 2016 to the current 28%, the fastest increase is among 45 to 54-year-olds, rising from 13% to 20% over the same period, according to analysts Mintel.
Despite the comparative growth rates, some 57% of Britons think that too many young people vape.
As many as one in five (19%) Britons overall vape, up from 17% in 2016, with men (26%) twice as likely to vape than women (13%).
Sales of e-cigarettes are now valued at £283 million, up 12% from £252 million in 2017.
Mintel associate director for beauty and personal care, Roshida Khanom, said: “Over the last couple of years the proportion of vapers has increased with a particular rise in 45-54s, despite public concerns around vaping among young people.
“This increase in vapers among middle-aged Brits may be reflective of them joining what they consider a fashionable trend.
“Our previous research shows that 45-54s are the age group most likely to agree that vaping is fashionable.”
The study also found that 62% of Britons want the vaping industry to be regulated, while more than half (55%) believe that vaping is addictive and 42% think it is a gateway to smoking.
However, only 1% of non-smokers vape, the poll indicates, suggesting that few non-smokers take up the devices.
Ms Khanom added: “It’s interesting that such a high number of people are looking for regulation in the vaping industry, despite the fact that it is already a regulated market. This is driven by the high perception that too many young people vape and that vaping is a gateway to smoking.
“Vaping is considered addictive by the majority of adults. But whilst the nicotine content in e-cigarettes can be addictive, the NHS describes it as ‘relatively harmless’ - with the dangers of traditional smoking coming from other chemicals in tobacco smoke.”
Overall, 21% of smokers tried to cut down on smoking in 2018 compared with 14% in 2016, according to Mintel.
Meanwhile, 23% of ex-smokers kicked the habit in the 12 months to October 2018 compared with 20% in the 12 months to October 2016.
Mintel surveyed 2,219 UK adults in October.