YOUNG women are being left behind in the vaping revolution as they continue to smoke tobacco, according to a think tank.

And a report from the right-wing Adam Smith Institute claims that reforming laws that discourage switching from cigarettes to vapour could help save more than a million years of life.

The institute said that despite the huge majority of smokers knowing the risks, large numbers continue to light up. Almost 9% of young men vape and compared to just 2.6% of women, as16% of females aged between 16 and 24 continue to smoke.

It said that data has showed that vaping shops are the third largest growth sector in UK retail space, but vaping remains a predominantly male activity.

Daniel Pryor, from the Adam Smith Institute, said sensible post-Brexit reforms to advertising restrictions, many of which were put in place at European Union level, could mean fewer lives lost to smoking-related illnesses in Britain.

Both vaping and heat-not-burn technology could be advertised to smokers within cigarette packaging, on online platforms and with reference to health authorities’ advice on the benefits of swapping from smoking. The report said larger vaping liquid sizes, which are restricted by EU single market rules, could be reformed to make it easier to ensure access to liquids and reduce the temptation to slip back to cigarettes.

It said Britain should look again at bans on indoor vaping in public places, on rail platforms and other shared spaces.

Reduced-risk alternatives to smoking matter, said the institute, with Sweden having one of the lowest smoking and cancer rates in Europe, linked to the prevalence of the powdered tobacco snus, which studies have shown to have little impact on life expectancy.

In Japan, where heat-not-burn technologies are openly advertised, market share is now up to 10% of nicotine products and cigarette sales have plummeted by 12.4% in the past year.

Daniel Pryor, a research economist at the Adam Smith Institute and author of the paper, said: “To its great credit, successive UK governments and public health bodies have maintained a comparatively liberal approach to vaping and other consumer nicotine products.

“Domestic and international evidence shows that the health benefits of this harm reduction approach are enormous, but young British women who smoke are being left behind.

“It’s vital that we combat the widespread and worsening misperception that vaping is as harmful as smoking through sensible advertising reforms and public health guidance.

“We must also ensure that smokers who hold strong preferences for tobacco have viable quit options by making it easier to bring other innovative reduced-risk products (such as ‘heat-not-burn’ devices) to market.”