E-Cigarettes market in UK grows 340 per cent in a year

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd April 2014
Inside an e-cigarette

Once quitting smoking was simply a matter of a patch, gum or tablet, but new research from Mintel sees smokers in the UK increasingly turning to E-cigarettes to beat the habit, with the market for such products in the UK growing an impressive 340 per cent over the past year, according to market research organisation Mintel.

The latest research from Mintel found that while sales of smoking cessation aids had slowed, the market for E-cigarettes in the UK grew from an estimated million in 2012 to reach an estimated £193 million in 2013.

Impact of E-cigarettes on smoking cessation market

While the smoking cessation market has seen strong growth historically, with annual increases of around 6 to 10 per cent between 2009 and 2012, sales of products such as gum, tablets and patches have slowed. Indeed, Mintel found that in 2013 the market for smoking cessation aids grew just 1.7 per cent to reach a value of £131 million.

“The rise in popularity of E-cigarettes has hampered growth in the value of the smoking cessation market, which saw modest growth in 2013,” said Roshida Khanom, Senior Personal Care Analyst at Mintel. “Although E-cigarettes are largely marketed as an alternative to smoking, smokers have been using them to cut down or quit smoking,” she said.

“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,” Ms Khanom said. “This concern has resulted in the Government announcement made in January 2014 that the sale of E-cigarettes to under-18s is to be made illegal,” she said.

E-cigarettes also used as alternative to tobacco

A greater proportion of smokers and ex-smokers agreed that E-cigarettes are a good way to cut down (32 per cent) rather than quit smoking (26 per cent), which Mintel said  suggested that people are using them as both a smoking cessation aid and an alternative to tobacco.

E-cigarettes may be classed as medicines in the UK soon

More than three in 10 people (31 per cent) agreed that there was a lack of information on the long-term effects of using E-cigarettes, however, only 20 per cent agreed that the products would only be considered safe once they have NHS approval. Despite this, one in 10 (10 per cent) 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 per cent among people aged 16 to 24 years.

“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 products to under-18s,” Ms Khanom said. “Proposed changes in legislation from 2016 are likely to see E-cigarettes classified as medicines and so brands will need to provide more information to support their claims if they wish to remain in the market. A brand that can become the spearhead for this can distinguish itself in the market and win consumer confidence, as well as becoming the leading brand to be prescribed by the NHS (or recommended by the NHS),”  she said.

Most popular smoking cessation products in the UK

Mintel’s exclusive research questioning smokers who are trying to quit or who have quit smoking, found the most popular smoking cessation method was non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), used by half (50 per cent) of people who have or are trying to quit smoking, and rated effective by 35 per cent. Although not an official smoking cessation product, E-cigarettes are currently the second most popular method used by 45 per cent of people and rated equally as effective as non-prescription NRT (35 per cent). Additionally, E-cigarettes were rated as being as effective as non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in helping smokers kick the habit.

Meanwhile, the UK’s NHS Stop Smoking services had also been popular, used by 38 per cent of smokers and ex-smokers and rated effective by 28 per cent.

“The supportive methods offered by the NHS, which include one-to-one or group coaching as well as being able to track your progress, are likely behind its success,” Ms Khanom said.

Australian Food News reported in September 2013 that a study from the University of Auckland in New Zealand had found that e-cigarettes were as effective as nicotine patches in helping people to quit smoking.

Consumers’ reasons for quitting

Improving health (69 per cent), saving money (57 per cent) and improving appearance (25 per cent) were the top three motivators encouraging people to quit smoking, according to Mintel.

Concerns for health increased with age, with 73 per cent of over-65s listing this as a motivator to stop smoking tobacco. With young people, appearance was important, with 30 per cent of 16-24s listing appearance as a motivation. Women were also more motivated by appearance (31 per cent) offering new opportunities for brand communication.

Smoking on the decline

Overall, four in ten (39 per cent) UK consumers said they had never been smokers. More than a fifth (22 per cent) used to smoke but stopped more than 6 months ago, while 3 per cent used to smoke but stopped in the last six months.

The highest proportion of non-smokers came from those aged 16-24, with over half (54 per cent) never having smoked. Additionally, smokers in this age bracket were most likely to want to quit, with 35 per cent currently trying to quit and only 6 per cent with no interest in quitting.

Smokers (including those who only smoke on social occasions) made up 36 per cent of UK consumers, with the majority smoking between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day (15 per cent). Around one in five (4 per cent) UK consumers said they were “social smokers”, only smoking when at the pub or out with friends etc. Men were heavier smokers, with almost twice the proportion of men smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day compared with women (11 per cent vs 6 per cent).

E-cigarettes in Australia

No e-cigarette products have been approved as yet for sale or use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia.

US sales of e-cigarettes expected to reach $1.7 billion in 2013

Meanwhile, in the US sales of e-cigarettes are believed to have exceeded the US$1 billion mark and are expected to reach US$1.7 billion by the close of 2013. These sales figures include both in-store and online sales.

Sales of traditional tobacco cigarettes are estimated at approximately US$80 billion a year in the US.