Impact of e-cigarette uptake is highlighted in annual smoking statistics
June 1 2016
The number of prescription items dispensed to help people stop smoking was 1.3 million in 2014-15, down from 2.0 million items ten years ago. Net ingredient cost was £38.1 million, according to the annual Statistics on Smoking for England, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
In 2014-15, 766,000 items of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) were dispensed, “less than half the level it was in 2005-06 when it peaked at 2.1 million,” said the report. In addition, “561,000 items of varenicline were dispensed in 2014-15, compared with a peak of 987,000 items in 2010-11. Prescription items for bupropion have been steady since 2004-05. In 2014-15, 21,000 items were dispensed.
The most common reason given for using e-cigarettes was as an aid to stopping smoking, cited by 53% of e-cigarette users. The next most common reason was that e-cigarettes are perceived to be less harmful than cigarettes (22%).
Among Great Britain’s adults, 19% were smokers in 2014, smoking an average of 11 cigarettes a day, the lowest consumption since records began. Among secondary school pupils, 18% said they had tried smoking at least once. In comparison, 4% of adults (2.2 million) in 2015 said they were e-cigarette users, and more secondary school pupils reported having tried e-cigarettes at least once (22%) than traditional cigarettes (18%).
Around the UK, “Scotland reported the highest proportion of current smokers (20%) and England (18%) and Northern Ireland (18%) had the lowest. Current smoking prevalence was 19% in Wales,” says the report. “Smoking prevalence in London, the South East and the South West (17%) was significantly lower than the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber (all above 19%).”
The statistics show that those in the 25-24 year old age group were most likely to be smokers at 24%, compared to 11% of those aged 60 or over. Men are more likely than women to smoke: 20% of men compared to 17% of women. However, 11.4% of pregnant women were still recorded as smokers at the time of giving birth.
The impact of smoking on hospital care was noted: “There were 1.7 million admissions for conditions that could be caused by smoking in 2014-15. This is an average of 4,700 admissions per day. Of these 475,000 (28%) were estimated to be attributed to smoking.” In addition, “there were 78,000 deaths in 2014 which were estimated to be attributed to smoking.”
Circulatory diseases were the most common causes for the hospital admission at over 40% of cases, while respiratory diseases and cancers accounted for just under 20% of admissions each.
The medicines regulator, the MHRA has also updated its online guidance relating to regulations for e-cigarettes as consumer products. The updated information includes new sections on the sale of nicotine base liquid, UK ingredient guidance, warning labels, and advertising.
In addition, consumers and healthcare professionals can now report side effects and safety concerns with e-cigarettes or refill containers to the MHRA through the Yellow Card reporting system.