Significant increase in E-cigarette use in Scotland

Published: 20 September 2016

The 2015 Scottish Health Survey, shows a significant increase since 2014 in the proportion of adults who currently use e-cigarettes.

20th September 2016, Issued by Scot Cen Social Research

The 2015 Scottish Health Survey, shows a significant increase since 2014 in the proportion of adults who currently use e-cigarettes.

In 2015 7% of adults said they currently use e-cigarettes, compared with 5% in 2014. Current use of e-cigarettes is most common among adults aged 25-64 (7-9%), although those aged 16-34 are the most likely to have ever tried e-cigarettes (22-26% compared with 4-10% of those aged 65 and over).

This is the second year that ScotCen Social Research has asked the public about the use of e-cigarettes as part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Health Survey, which interviewed 5,000 adults and over 1,400 children in
Scotland throughout 2015.

Exposure to second-hand smoke on the decline
Further findings from SHeS reveal a significant decrease in the proportion of children who were exposed to second-hand smoke in their home. In 2014, 11% of children were reported to be exposed to second-hand smoke, compared with 6% in 2015.

Just 12% of non-smokers aged 16 or over were exposed to second hand smoke in their own or other people’s homes, down from 25% in 2003.

Meanwhile, the number of smokers in Scotland has remained relatively stable since 2013, with 21% of adults reporting that they currently smoke cigarettes. This is, however, a significant decrease on the 28% of adults who smoked in 2003.

Other key findings from the survey showed:

  • A majority (65%) of adults in Scotland are overweight, including 29% who are obese. This figure has been relatively stable since 2008.
  • The proportion of boys of healthy weight (73% in 2015) has increased year on year since 2011 (63%). The proportion of girls of healthy weight was 70% in 2015 and has remained stable since 1998.
  • In 2012-2015, 9% of adults had both a physical health condition and symptoms of mental disorder.
  • One in 10 (11%) adults did not consume any fruit or vegetables, while 1 in 5 (21%) met the 5-a-day recommendation on the previous day. 12% of children aged 2-15 met this recommendation

Diarmid Campbell-Jack, Research Director at ScotCen Social Research said:

“This is the first time there has been rigorous data from any source available across Scotland to accurately show how the use of e-cigarettes is changing over time. While it is still a small minority who currently use e-cigs, that proportion has risen significantly in a single year. Whether this is a cause for celebration or concern remains to be seen, with Scottish Health Survey data providing valuable information on our usage of e-cigarettes to health professionals examining their long-term impact.

It is positive to see that the proportion of boys of healthy weight has returned to similar levels to those seen in 1998, with almost three-quarters of boys being a healthy weight. However, Scottish Health Survey data shows that around two-thirds of adults are overweight, with this figure having changed little since 2008”

One of the authors of the report, Dr Linsay Gray, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, said:

“In looking at these data, we found that adults aged 75 and over, and those in the most deprived areas are more likely to live with a combination of health conditions. This was true for six in ten older people and around a third of those in deprived areas.”

Download the summary report  

Download the full report

The Scottish Health Survey has been designed to provide data on the health of adults (aged 16 and above) and children (aged 0-15) living in private households in Scotland annually. In 2015, 5,000 adults and 1,421 children took part in the survey.

The survey is commissioned by Scottish Government Health Directorates to provide a detailed annual assessment of the health of the Scottish population, and has been running since 1995.

ScotCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

First published: 20 September 2016

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