Rapid growth in disposable e-cigarette vaping among young
adults in Great Britain from 2021 to 2022: a repeat
| Sarah E. Jackson
| Loren Kock
| Jamie Brown
Department of Behavioural Science and
Health, University College London, London,
SPECTRUM Consortium, London, UK
Addictions and Inclusion, Office for Health
Improvement and Disparities, London, UK
Harry Tattan-Birch, Institute of Epidemiology
and Health Care, 1–19 Torrington Place,
Fitzrovia, London WC1E 7HB, UK.
Cancer Research UK, Grant/Award Number:
PRCRPG-Nov21\100002; The Office for
Health Improvement and Disparities,
Grant/Award Number: 558585/180737; The
UK Research Prevention Partnership,
Grant/Award Number: MR/S037519/1
Aims: To estimate recent trends in the prevalence of disposable e-cigarette vaping in
Great Britain, overall and across ages, and to measure these trends in the context of
changes in smoking and vaping prevalence.
Design: The Smoking Toolkit Study, a monthly representative cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Great Britain.
Participants: A total of 36 876 adults (≥18 years) completed telephone interviews
between January 2021 and April 2022.
Measurements: Current e-cigarette vapers were asked which type of device they mainly
use. We estimated age-specific monthly time trends in the prevalence of current dispos-
able e-cigarette use among vapers and inhaled nicotine use (vaping/smoking), smoking
and vaping among adults.
Findings: From January 2021 to April 2022, there was an 18-fold increase in the percent-
age of vapers who used disposables, rising from 1.2 to 22.2% [prevalence ratio (PR)
= 18.0; 95% compatibility interval (CI) = 9.18–49.0]. Growth in disposable e-cigarette
vaping was most pronounced in younger adults (interaction P-value = 0.013): for exam-
ple, the percentage of 18-year-old vapers using disposables rose from 0.4 to 54.8%
(PR = 129; 95% CI = 28.5–4520), while it rose from 2.1 to 10.0% (PR = 4.73; 95%
CI = 2.06–23.6) among 45-year-old vapers. However, the overall percentage of people
currently using any inhaled nicotine remained stable over time both among all adults
(20.0 versus 21.2%; PR = 1.06; 95% CI = 0.92–1.22) and among 18-year-olds (30.2 ver-
sus 29.7%; PR = 0.99; 95% CI = 0.80–1.22). In 18-year-olds, vaping prevalence grew
(11.3 versus 17.7%; PR = 1.57; 95% CI = 1.12–2.29), and there was imprecise evidence
for a decline in smoking (24.5 versus 19.5%; PR = 0.80; 95% CI = 0.63–1.04). In 45-year-
olds, there was relatively little change in vaping (PR = 1.08; 95% CI = 0.88–1.33) or
smoking prevalence (PR = 1.01; 95% CI = 0.88–1.16).
Conclusions: Use of disposable e-cigarettes in Great Britain grew rapidly between 2021
and 2022, especially among younger adults, but the overall prevalence of inhaled
Received: 6 May 2022 Accepted: 24 August 2022
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2022 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction.
Addiction. 2022;1–5. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/add 1
nicotine use was stable over time. Most young adult vapers in Great Britain now use dis-
Disposable e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, Elf Bar, ENDS, England, Puff Bar,
Scotland, vaping, Wales, young adults
Early electronic cigarettes (‘e-cigarettes’) were disposable products
that were poor at delivering nicotine. Over time, new e-cigarette
types were developed to deliver nicotine contained in e-liquid more
effectively through rechargeable devices with refillable tanks or
replaceable pods (e.g. Juul) . These devices came to dominate the
global e-cigarette market and, by 2019, fewer than one in 10 vapers
used disposables in England or the United States [1–3]. Recently, a
new form of disposable e-cigarette has started being sold under brand
names such as ‘Puff bar’,‘Elf bar’or ‘Geek bar’. Unlike earlier dis-
posables, these products deliver nicotine effectively using a similar
technology to pod devices, including high-strength (20 mg/ml in
UK/EU) nicotine salts e-liquid . They retail for approximately £5–7
(US$7–9) in the United Kingdom—about half the price of a pack of
20 cigarettes. US data show that, in 2021, disposables surpassed pods
as the most commonly used type of e-cigarette among adolescents
. Little is known about the popularity of disposables in other coun-
tries and older age groups. It is also unclear whether these products
attract people who would otherwise smoke cigarettes, vape other
types of e-cigarettes or who would remain abstinent from nicotine
entirely. This study aims to estimate recent trends in the prevalence
of disposable e-cigarette vaping in Great Britain, overall and across
ages, and to explore these trends in the context of other changes in
smoking and vaping prevalence.
The Smoking Toolkit Study (STS) is a monthly cross-sectional survey
that recruits a nationally representative sample of adults (≥18 years)
in Great Britain. It uses a hybrid of population and quota sampling.
Great Britain is divided into areas of approximately 300 households,
which are stratified by region and demographic profile before being
selected at random to be included on the interview list. In selected
areas, interviews are performed with one individual per household
until age, employment status and gender quotas are met. Raking is
used to construct survey weights, adjusting data so that the demo-
graphic profile of the weighted sample matches that of Great Britain.
This demographic profile is ascertained monthly using data from three
sources: the 2011 UK Census, the Office for National Statistics mid-
year estimates and the annual National Readership Survey. Methods
are described in detail elsewhere .
Participants (n= 36 876) completed telephone interviews between
January 2021 and April 2022, inclusive. University College London
Ethics Committee provided approval for the study (0498/001), and
participants gave oral informed consent. All methods were carried out
in accordance with relevant regulations.
All measures used were routinely collected in the STS. Smoking status
was ascertained by asking participants which of the following applies
to them: (i) ‘I smoke cigarettes (including hand-rolled) every day’, (ii) ‘I
smoke cigarettes (including hand-rolled), but not every day’, (iii) ‘Ido
not smoke cigarettes at all, but I do smoke tobacco of some kind
(e.g. pipe, cigar or shisha)’, (iv) ‘I have stopped smoking completely in
the last year’, (v) ‘I stopped smoking completely more than a year ago’
and (vi) ‘I have never been a smoker (i.e. smoked for a year or more)’.
Participants were told that this question referred to cigarettes and
other kinds of tobacco, not e-cigarettes or heat-not-burn products.
Participants selecting (i) to (iii) were classified current smokers, (iv) and
(v) former smokers and (vi) never smokers.
Vaping status was assessed by asking participants whether they
were currently using e-cigarettes to cut down on the amount they
smoke, in situations when they are not allowed to smoke, to help
them stop smoking or for any other reason. Those who responded
positively to any of these questions were considered current
Current vapers were asked which type of device they mainly use.
Those who responded, ‘a disposable e-cigarette or vaping device
(non-rechargeable)’were considered disposable e-cigarette vapers.
They could only choose one device type (the one they ‘mainly’use).
Participants were asked to provide their exact age in years. Those
who refused to give their exact age were asked to select their age
group from a list. For participants who only responded to the latter
question (2% of respondents), exact age was imputed as the mean age
within the age group they selected. Participants were also asked for
Weighted logistic regression was used to estimate monthly time
trends in the proportion of (i) adults and (ii) current vapers who use
2TATTAN-BIRCH ET AL.
disposable e-cigarettes, overall and for specific ages (using survey
weights described earlier). For the overall analysis, models only
included predictors for time. For the age-specific analysis, models
included time, age and their interaction as predictors—thus allowing
for time trends to differ across ages. Both age and time were mod-
elled continuously using restricted cubic splines with three knots
(placed at earliest, middle and latest month for time and 5, 50 and
95% quantiles for age among vapers). This allowed the relationship of
prevalence with age and time to be flexible and non-linear, while
avoiding categorization . Age was modelled continuously, so we
displayed estimates for four specific ages (18-, 25-, 35- and 45-year-
olds) to illustrate how trends differed across ages. Note that the
model used to derive these estimates included data from participants
of all ages, not only those who were aged exactly 18, 25, 35 or
Prevalence ratios (PR) for the change in prevalence across the
whole time-series (April 2022 versus January 2021) were presented,
alongside 95% compatibility intervals (95% CIs) calculated using
bootstrapping [8–11]. We ran analogous analyses to estimate time
trends in the proportion of adults who currently (i) vape, (ii) smoke
or (iii) use any form of inhaled nicotine—whether smoked or vaped.
Note that prevalence of disposable e-cigarette use was very low in
older age groups, which meant that we were unable to estimate
time trends in these groups. Finally, we reported the percentage of
disposable e-cigarette vapers who reported being current, former or
never smokers. Participants with missing data for their smoking or
vaping status (< 1%) were excluded from analyses that required this
information. R version 4.1.0 was used for analyses (code: https://
Of the 36 876 eligible adults interviewed, 51.1% were women and
the average age was 51.5 years [standard deviation (SD) = 18.6].
From January 2021 to April 2022, there was an 18-fold increase in
the percentage of vapers who used disposables, rising from 1.2 to
22.2% [prevalence ratio (PR) = 18.0; 95% compatibility interval (CI)
= 9.18–49.0]. Overall, the prevalence of disposable e-cigarette
use increased from 0.08 to 1.85% (Table 1; PR = 22.3; 95%
CI = 10.8–48.8).
Growth in disposable e-cigarette vaping was most pronounced in
the youngest participants (Fig. 1; interaction P-value = 0.013). For
instance, prevalence of disposable use among 45-year-old vapers rose
from 2.1 to 10.0% (PR = 4.73; 95% CI = 2.06–23.6), whereas among
18-year-old vapers it increased from 0.4 to 54.8% (PR = 129; 95%
CI = 28.5–4520).
Despite this, the overall percentage of adults currently using any
inhaled nicotine (smoked or vaped) was relatively stable during the
study period (Table 1; 20.0 versus 21.2%; PR = 1.06; 95% CI = 0.92–
1.22). Among young adults, where the rise in disposable vaping was
most pronounced, inhaled nicotine use changed little over time, esti-
mated to be 30.2% for 18-year-olds in January 2021 and 29.7% April
2022 (Table 1; PR = 0.99; 95% CI = 0.80–1.22). However, during the
period vaping prevalence rose from 11.3 to 17.7% among 18-year-
olds (Table 1; PR = 1.57; 95% CI = 1.12–2.29); there was an uncertain
decline in smoking prevalence from 24.5 to 19.5% (Table 1; PR = 0.80;
95% CI = 0.63–1.04). Conversely, in ages where vaping prevalence
did not substantially increase, there appeared to be little change in
smoking. For instance, the prevalence of vaping (Table 1; PR = 1.08;
95% CI = 0.88–1.33) and smoking (Table 1; PR = 1.01; 95%
CI = 0.88–1.16) among 45-year-olds were relatively stable over time.
More detailed monthly trends in the prevalence of inhaled nicotine
use, vaping and smoking among adults of different ages are shown in
Supporting information, Figs S1–S3.
Most disposable e-cigarette vapers were current (71.6%) or for-
mer smokers (18.8%), with few reporting never having smoked regu-
larly (9.6%). The proportion of disposable vapers who also smoked
was similar across ages, but it may have declined slightly over time
(Supporting information, Figs S4 and S5).
TABLE 1 Age-specific trends in current vaping, smoking and
disposable e-cigarette vaping prevalence in Great Britain.
January 21 April 22 Prevalence ratio (95% CI)
Currently using inhaled nicotine (vaped or smoked)
18-year-olds 30.2% 29.7% 0.99 (0.80–1.22)
25-year-olds 28.7% 30.3% 1.06 (0.94–1.19)
35-year-olds 25.6% 28.6% 1.12 (1.01–1.23)
45-year-olds 21.6% 24.1% 1.11 (0.99–1.24)
All adults 20.0% 21.2% 1.06 (0.92–1.22)
18-year-olds 11.3% 17.7% 1.57 (1.12–2.29)
25-year-olds 10.7% 15.2% 1.42 (1.16–1.77)
35-year-olds 9.4% 11.6% 1.23 (1.03–1.47)
45-year-olds 7.6% 8.1% 1.08 (0.88–1.33)
All adults 7.0% 8.2% 1.17 (1.01–1.35)
18-year-olds 24.5% 19.5% 0.80 (0.63–1.04)
25-year-olds 22.7% 19.9% 0.88 (0.76–1.02)
35-year-olds 19.7% 19.0% 0.97 (0.85–1.10)
45-year-olds 16.2% 16.3% 1.01 (0.88–1.16)
All adults 15.2% 14.5% 0.95 (0.87–1.05)
Currently vaping disposables
18-year-olds 0.1% 10.7% 214 (56.7–5590)
25-year-olds 0.1% 4.7% 45.1 (17.1–247)
35-year-olds 0.2% 1.8% 9.84 (3.25–35.9)
45-year-olds 0.2% 0.9% 5.74 (2.57–22.2)
All adults 0.1% 1.9% 22.3 (10.8–48.8)
Weighted prevalence estimates from logistic regression allowing an
interaction between age and month, modelled non-linearly using restricted
cubic splines (three knots). Data, analysis code and estimates for other
months are available on-line (https://osf.io/km3x6/).
DISPOSABLE VAPING IN GREAT BRITAIN 3
Use of disposable e-cigarettes rose sharply between 2021 and 2022
in Great Britain—with the most rapid growth observed among the
youngest adults, mirroring trends observed in US adolescents . At
the start of 2021, fewer than 1% of 18-year-old vapers used dispos-
ables. This increased substantially throughout the past year, such that
currently more than half of 18-year-old vapers report mainly using
disposables. Despite this, the overall percentage of young people
using any form of inhaled nicotine was stable over time, with an
increase in vaping and an uncertain decline in smoking among young
adults. This suggests that, in Great Britain up to 2022, disposable
e-cigarettes have primarily attracted those who would otherwise use
rechargeable devices or cigarettes, rather than those who would oth-
erwise not use any nicotine product. Nonetheless, patterns of nicotine
product use can change rapidly. Early and routine publication of data
such as these are needed to guide policy and research. Study limita-
tions include the wide 95% CIs around PRs due to few participants
reporting disposable e-cigarette use in early months. The measure of
disposable e-cigarette vaping also did not distinguish between modern
‘bar’style disposables from older ‘cigalikes’. Moreover, it asked about
which type of e-cigarette vapers ‘mainly’use, so vapers who used dis-
posables as a secondary product were not captured; therefore, the
estimated prevalence of disposable vaping actually represents a lower
bound for the true prevalence. Future studies should examine why
disposable e-cigarettes have become the product of choice among
young people in Great Britain and the United States  and whether
similar trends have occurred in other countries.
Cancer Research UK provides funding for the Smoking Toolkit Study
in England and salary support for S.J. (PRCRPG-Nov21/100002). The
UK Prevention Research Partnership (MR/S037519/1) funds the
Smoking Toolkit Study in Scotland and Wales and provides salary sup-
port for L.K. The UK Prevention Research Partnership is funded by
the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist
Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Director-
ates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic
and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and
Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Coun-
cil, National Institute for Health Research, Natural Environment
Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), The
Health Foundation and Wellcome. H.T.B.’s studentship is funded by
the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, previously Public
Health England (558585/180737). The funders of the Smoking
Toolkit Study had no role in the study design or conduct; collection,
management, analysis or interpretation of data; preparation, review or
approval of the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript
for publication. University College London Ethics Committee provided
approval for the study (0498/001), and participants gave oral
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
H.T.B., L.K., M.D. and S.J. declare no conflicts of interest. J.B. has
received unrestricted research funding to study smoking cessation
from manufacturers of smoking cessation medications (Pfizer and
Johnson & Johnson).
Sarah Jackson: Conceptualization; investigation; methodology; super-
vision. Loren Kock: Conceptualization; data curation; investigation;
methodology. Martin Dockrell: Conceptualization; investigation;
supervision. Jamie Brown: Conceptualization; data curation; investiga-
tion; methodology; supervision.
Harry Tattan-Birch https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9410-8343
Sarah E. Jackson https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5658-6168
Loren Kock https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2961-8838
Jamie Brown https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2797-5428
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FIGURE 1 Percentage of current vapers using disposable e-
cigarettes across ages in Great Britain from 2021 to April 2022. A
total of 36 876 eligible adults were surveyed (approximately 2300
each month). Lines represent point estimates from logistic regression
allowing an interaction between age and month, modelled non-
linearly using restricted cubic splines (three knots). Shaded areas
represent standard errors. Data and analysis code are available on-line
4TATTAN-BIRCH ET AL.
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Additional supporting information can be found online in the Support-
ing Information section at the end of this article.
How to cite this article: Tattan-Birch H, Jackson SE, Kock L,
Dockrell M, Brown J. Rapid growth in disposable e-cigarette
vaping among young adults in Great Britain from 2021 to
2022: a repeat cross-sectional survey. Addiction. 2022.
DISPOSABLE VAPING IN GREAT BRITAIN 5