TOBACCO & SMOKERS REQUISITES – Smoking in decline but E-cigs are hot sellers

In old movies everyone seemed to smoke, but in 2015 four in ten Brits have never taken up the habit. More than a fifth used to smoke but stopped over six months ago, while 3% used to smoke but stopped in the last six months.

chazNew research from Mintel sees smokers in the UK increasingly turning to E-cigarettes to beat the habit. Their latest data shows that today, while sales of smoking cessation aids have slowed, the market for E-cigarettes in the UK is booming, increasing 340% over the past year from an estimated £44 million in 2012 to an estimated £193 million in 2013.

While the smoking cessation market has seen strong growth historically, with annual increases of 6-10% between 2009-12, sales of products such as gum, tablets and patches have slowed. In 2013 the market for smoking cessation aids grew just 1.7% to £131 million.

Roshida Khanom, Senior Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, says: “E-cigarettes’ rise in popularity has hampered growth in the smoking cessation market. Although E-cigarettes are largely marketed as an alternative to smoking, smokers have been using them to cut down or quit. But with the growing popularity of E-cigarettes, there is concern that young people may take up ‘vaping’ as a less harmful alternative to smoking. This concern has resulted in the Government announcement in January 2014 that the sale of E-cigarettes to under-18s is to be made illegal.”

A greater proportion of smokers and ex-smokers agree that E-cigarettes are a good way to cut down (32%) rather than quit smoking (26%), suggesting that people are using them as both a smoking cessation aid and an alternative to tobacco. More than three in 10 people (31%) agree that there is a lack of information on the long-term effects of using E-cigarettes, however, only 20% agree that they will only be considered safe once they have NHS approval. Despite this, one in 10 (10%) people who currently or used to smoke agree that E-cigarettes may encourage people to start smoking who otherwise may not have, rising to 19% of those aged 16-24.

These findings suggest that young people may take up E-cigarettes instead of tobacco, and supports the government decision to make it illegal to sell these to under-18s. Proposed changes in legislation from 2016 are likely to see E-cigarettes classified as medicines.