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Third of current adult smokers reported they have tried e-cigarettes

• Health survey also provides data on other topics including eye care and social care

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional data is available within this report

Nearly a third (29 per cent) of current adult smokers reported that they had used an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette, also called vapouriser) in the past.

New figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre look at survey participants' smoking habits and for the first time included questions around e-cigarette use. Three per cent of adults reported that they were currently using e-cigarettes.

The Health Survey for England3 2013 (HSE), which covers a range of health and care topics, included questions on social care, eye care and end of life care. The findings estimate that among the adult population in England in 2013:


  • There has been a steady decline in the proportion of current women smokers over the last decade of seven percentage points (24 per cent in 2003, 17 per cent in 2013). However, the proportion of current male smokers has changed less; down from 27 per cent in 2003 to 24 per cent in 2013.
  • One per cent of non-smokers reported that they had ever used e-cigarettes.
  • Self-reported exposure to second-hand smoke was highest among those aged 16-24 with over half of participants in this age group (59 per cent of men, 55 per cent of women) reporting at least some exposure4.

Social care for people aged over 65

  • One third (33 per cent) of women and under a quarter of men (23 per cent) reported needing help with at least one activity of daily living5.
  • 35 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men, reported that they needed help with an activity that was important to living independently6.
  • Help with activities important to independent living was most frequently provided by a spouse or partner for men (47 per cent) and by a daughter for women (38 per cent).

Eye care

  • Almost one in three women (29 per cent) and two in five men (41 per cent), reported that they did not have an eye test at least every two years, which is the minimum frequency recommended by RNIB7

Participants were asked to rate their eyesight assuming that they were using their glasses or contact lenses, if needed:

  • Almost two thirds of adults rated their eyesight as excellent or very good, (62 per cent of women and 66 per cent of men). Eight per cent of both sexes said that their eyesight was fair or poor8.
  • Self-reported eyesight got worse with age; and a quarter of adults aged 85 and over, (24 per cent of women, 26 per cent of men), rated their eyesight as fair or poor.

End of life care

Around a quarter of participants reported that someone close to them had died from a terminal illness in the last five years (26 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men). Of these:

  • More than four out of ten participants (42 percent of women, 47 per cent of men) reported that the place the person close to them had died was a hospital. 30 per cent reported their loved one died at home.
  • More than four out of ten women, (43 per cent) and a third of men (33 per cent), provided personal care, other care or both types of care9 to the person close to them that died.
  • More than three quarters of adults (78 per cent of women and 76 per cent of men) said that they would definitely take on the role of caring again in similar circumstances.

HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning said: "The publication of the Health Survey for England provides us with valuable information on the health and lifestyle of the population. This report enables us to find out information on how these topics affect members of the public.

"For the first time we have been able to look at the use of e-cigarettes within our report, as well as looking at topics such as eye care, end of life care and social care."

Read the report here:


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  3. The Health Survey for England is an annual survey, monitoring the health of the population. Topics covered in the 2013 report include smoking, social care, eye care, end of life care, shift work, medicines, obesity, and fruit and vegetable consumption. The associated trend tables also include data on alcohol consumption, general health, longstanding illness and well-being. The Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL (University College London) are commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre to carry out the survey. Each survey consists of core questions and measurements, plus modules of questions on specific issues that vary from year to year. The Health Survey for England provided a representative sample of the population living in private households in England at both national and regional level. 9,410 addresses were randomly selected in 588 postcode sectors, issued over twelve months from January to December 2013. A total of 8,800 adults and 2,190 children were interviewed. A household response rate of 64 per cent was achieved.
  4. Exposure to second-hand smoke was most likely to occur in outdoor smoking areas of pubs/restaurants/cafes or at home (including other people's homes).
  5. The need for and receipt of social care was measured using a number of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. ADLs are activities relating to personal care and mobility about the home that are basic to daily living and include: having a bath or a shower; using the toilet; getting up and down stairs; getting around indoors; dressing or undressing; getting in and out of bed; washing face and hands; eating, including cutting up food; and taking medicine.
  6. Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are activities which, while not fundamental to functioning, are important aspects of living independently. They include: doing routine housework or laundry; shopping for food; getting out of the house; doing paperwork or paying bills.
  7. Royal National Institute of Blind People
  8. Taken from the HSE 2013 report table 3.1 Self-reported eyesight, using glasses or lenses if needed, by age and sex. The table uses the following six categories: excellent, very good, good, fair, poor and certified blind or partially sighted
  9. Personal care includes things like helping with washing, dressing, going to the toilet or eating. Examples of other care are helping with errands, laundry, shopping, giving lifts, taking the person to appointments or out for recreation or being company for the person.
  10. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 30 33 888.
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