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August 13, 2021
2 min to read

Gallup Says Americans Under 30 Still Prefer Vaping to Smoking

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Jim McDonald

The latest Gallup survey on smoking and vaping shows that young people are still more likely to vape than to smoke cigarettes—a trend first noticed in the 2018 Gallup survey measuring smoking and vaping trends. That's encouraging for harm reduction advocates, considering the organized efforts in recent years to frighten vapers away from the practice.

Among Americans aged 18-29, 17% reported vaping during the past week, while 14% reported smoking cigarettes. In the group aged 30-49, just 5% vaped, while 20% smoked. Among those aged between 50-64, 19% smoked cigarettes, and only 2% vaped.

Among all adults, 6% vaped and 16% smoked. Men were slightly more likely to smoke or vape than women.

In the 2019 Gallup survey—conducted just before the “EVALI” outbreak that led to panic over vaping—the vaping results showed each age group and the combined group vaping at a rate 2-3 percentage points higher.

"Among self-described conservative, moderate and liberal participants, the vaping result was exactly the same: 6% of each group vaped."


Vaping and smoking are both much more prevalent among lower-income adults and those with lower levels of education. Among those with an annual household income under $40,000, 28% smoked and 10% vaped, but only about half as many with an income between $40,000 and $99,999 smoked (12%) or vaped (4%).

Those with an education of high school or less smoked (28%) and vaped (10%) more often than those with some college (13%, 5%) or college graduates (6%, 4%).

Among self-described conservative, moderate and liberal participants, the vaping result was exactly the same: 6% of each group vaped. But among smokers, more were moderate (19%) or conservative (14%) than liberal (11%).

The 2021 Gallup survey results were based on phone interviews done from July 6-21 with a random sample of just over 1,000 U.S. adults. The results based on the entire sample have a margin of error of +/- four percentage points—enough to possibly account for the small vaping declines between 2018-19 and this year.

Gallup asked survey participants if they smoked any cigarettes or vaped any amount. If they responded yes to smoking, Gallup employees asked more detailed questions about how many cigarettes they used daily. No follow-up questions were asked of vapers.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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