The vaping sector supports nearly 18,000 jobs in the retail supply chain and is contributing £805 million per annum to UK GDP, as the UK reaps the benefits of its far-sighted investment in vaping and other alternative nicotine products, according to a new report.

Alternative nicotine products – including vaping products (i.e. e-cigarettes), tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches and tobacco heating products – deliver nicotine without the need to burn tobacco, making them potentially less risky than traditional combustible tobacco products.

A new research report by Oxford Economics demonstrates for the first time the massive economic footprint of the UK’s public health leadership position in vaping and other alternative nicotine products. According to BAT UK, which commissioned the report, the UK is now the global leader in developing high quality alternative nicotine products, generating significant economic benefits for the UK economy.

This report finds that:

  • Boosting our economy: By 2019, alternative nicotine products were supporting 17,800 UK jobs across the retail supply chain and contributing £805 million to UK GDP.
  • Investing in UK science: BAT’s research spending at its global R&D centre in Southampton doubled between 2016-20, contributing £210 million to UK GDP in 2019.
  • Unleashing British ingenuity: Driven by its global R&D hub in Southampton, BAT filed more than 170 patent applications in the UK in 2019 on new alternative nicotine products inventions, making it the UK’s seventh-largest patent applicant in 2019.

By 2019, there were 3.1 million vapers in the UK, a growth of more than one million in just five years. This report highlights research which shows that 97% of all vapers are current or ex-smokers, with two thirds using vapour products either as an aid to stop smoking or because they see vapour products as a less harmful alternative to smoking.

From its R&D base in Southampton, BAT continues to invest heavily in UK science. As the Report highlights, this is creating value across the economy:

  • Value: In 2019, BAT’s activities and investments in alternative nicotine products contributed £360m to UK GDP, supporting 7,100 jobs and 60 vapes stores on UK high streets.
  • Science: BAT scientists conducted 164 tests on its Vuse brand alone, including 27 behavioural science tests, 82 chemistry tests, 35 biological tests and 20 clinical tests. BAT holds the largest published dataset on a single vaping product.

Fredrik Svensson, General Manager BAT UK & Ireland, said that “UK policymakers made a bold statement by becoming one of the world’s leading advocates of vaping as an alternative to smoking. As this new report makes clear, the benefits to the UK economy of this progressive position are now paying dividends.

BAT has backed up the government’s bold stance by making big investments in UK-based vaping research and development, unleashing domestic economic growth and jobs, and positioning the UK to drive innovation globally in this fast-growing sector.”

Now other countries are finally seeing the light too and looking to the UK for leadership. Not only are these investments helping to design the alternative nicotine products of tomorrow, they are bringing thousands of jobs back into our regions, supporting high street businesses and boosting our economy. What this report shows above all else is that everybody wins when we back UK science and innovation.”

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