A national study in the United Kingdom sheds some new light on the vape industry in that country. According to research conducted by the Action on Smoking and Health, an increasing number of vapers have replaced cigarettes with vaping or have given up cigarettes completely over the last year.

Legislators around the world have struggled to categorize e-cigarettes as a method of harm reduction, in part because so many e-cigarette users also continue to smoke traditional cigarettes. This year marks the first time it has been documented that there are more vaping in the U.K. who have completely given up traditional cigarettes than those vapers who continue to smoke part-time.

Understanding Harm Reduction

Among those who continue to smoke alongside their e-cigarette usage, there seems to be a general misunderstanding of the inherent differences between vaping and smoking. According to the research conducted by ASH, almost a quarter of the people surveyed believed that e-cigarettes are just as risky as, or more risky than, traditional cigarettes.

This idea, though not fully researched or substantiated, could be hindering many people from making the full switch to e-cigarettes. Researchers from ASH found that only 13% of respondents believed that e-cigarettes were less harmful, despite numerous studies suggesting e-cigarettes may be significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

What It Means for the Future

The researchers behind this study were quick to note that there remains a significant error in communication when it comes to e-cigarettes and safety. Without the support of legislation to help fund additional research, or measures to adequately educate the public, it is likely many people will continue smoking with the thought that e-cigarettes are equally risky. New regulations that bar certain e-liquids and products from the market seem poised to discourage smokers from making the switch, because they paint e-cigarettes in the same light as tobacco products.

There are currently more than 9 million smokers remaining in the U.K., and about 1.3 million of them also vape. Meanwhile, there are 1.5 million vapers who have given up cigarettes completely.

Many people in the global pro-vape community are watching to see how the U.K. government responds to this new study. There is hope among vape supporters that the U.K. will implement common sense regulations that classify vape products in their own category, apart from tobacco products, based on research specific to its distinctive uses and applications.

If successfully implemented, the U.K. could serve as a model society for the U.S., where vape regulations are currently in flux on a national level.