Usage of e-cigarettes is increasing across Europe, according to a new study, but is being outpaced by the number of people who consider the devices dangerous. The research, conducted by scientists from Imperial College London, found that the percentage of European adults who admitting ever trying e-cigarettes rose from 7.2 percent in 2012, to 11.6 percent in 2014, and of these, one in seven describe themselves as current users. Meanwhile, the percentage of individuals who consider e-cigarettes harmful increased from 27.1 percent to 51.6 percent over that same time period.
The research came from a pair of EU-wide studies funded by the European Commission in 2012 and 2014. At least 1,000 individuals were surveyed each of the EU's 27 member states, with more than 26,000 people questioned in each of the year's reports.
The number of adults who had tried e-cigarettes doubled in the UK
The resulting study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, notes that e-cigarette usage varied from country to country. France had the highest number of users (21.3 percent of the adult population had tried an e-cigarette in 2014), while Portugal had the lowest (5.7 percent in 2014). The UK was one of the countries which experienced a significant increase, with the proportion of people who had tried the device almost doubling from 8.9 percent in 2012 to 15.5 percent in 2014. The researchers behind the study suggest that a number of factors are affecting these statistics, including prevalence of smoking in any given country, affordability of cigarettes, and enforcement of smoking bans.
The study notes that the majority of people who reported trying e-cigarettes were also current smokers, repeating findings from earlier research. However, the researchers also note concerns that e-cigarettes could serve as a gateway to smoking. "Our analysis showed that non-smokers were much less likely to have ever tried an e-cigarette, compared to smokers," they write. "Nevertheless, [the proportion of people who ever used] e-cigarettes increased among them as much as among smokers."