We are all aware of the ever-growing popularity of e-cigarettes in the U.S. and things are looking good for the industry in some European countries as well. According to a survey, in 2010, only 2.7% of smokers in the United Kingdom said they used electronic cigarettes on a regular basis, but now that is up to 17.7% which is equivalent with E-cigarette users tripled to 2 million.

ASH and ecigs Despite the fact that ecigs seem to get both positive and negative press coverage in the UK, the Welsh government is thinking about a public ban and rumors insist on a mandatory e-cigarette tax, the number of vapers continues to grow. Looking back to 2012, there were 700,000 electronic cigarette users in the UK, the number rising to 1.3 million in 2013 and recently hitting a record high of 2.1 million.

The anti-tobacco charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) says that its recent study shows that nearly two-thirds of users are smokers and the other third are ex-smokers, while use of the devices among non-smokers is negligible, at only 0.1%. Electronic cigarettes aren’t naturally viewed as a smoking cessation product, but smokers are still using them for this reason nonetheless. As opposed to nicotine patches and gum, e-cigarettes also provide for the oral fixation that has become such a powerful reflex in former smokers, thus, satisfying their desire to consistently place something in their mouth.

The Advertising Standards Authority has been examining complaints, particularly among public health doctors, that marketing gradually encourages non-smokers and particularly children to have a go with e-cigarettes, and switching to traditional tobacco afterwards. But ASH’s survey, carried out by YouGov, suggests this is not happening and that people are using e-cigarettes to get rid of their nasty tobacco habit instead.

‘The dramatic rise in the use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Significantly, usage among non-smokers remains negligible,’ declared Deborah Arnott, ASH’s chief executive.

‘While it is important to control the advertising of electronic cigarettes to make sure children and non-smokers are not being targeted, there is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking’ she added.

YouGov surveyed more than 12,000 people, with ASH extrapolating the total number of e-cigarette users in the population from the findings.

When ex-smokers were asked why they used electronic cigarettes, 71% said they wanted help giving up smoking. Among smokers, 48% said they wanted to reduce the amount of tobacco they smoked and 37% said they used e-cigarettes to save money.

These findings indicate that e-cigarettes are an effective way to help former smokers kick their habit, but they shouldn’t be marketed towards children.

‘Even if electronic cigarettes prove to be an effective tool for adults who are trying to quit, they should not be marketed to children. ASH urges the FDA to put these important regulatory issues back on the table,’ wrote Laurent Huber, ASH Executive Director on NGO’s blog.