The vaping industry is relatively new to the global market, but it traces its roots in ancient history, with techniques like the Egyptians’ hot stones and vape herbs, as well as the Indians’ shisha (or hookah).
Throughout the 20th century and early 2000s, numerous patents for nicotine inhaler devices were filed. The first patent was granted to John Robinson in 1930 for an electric vaporizer that was never commercialised. However, it was Herbert Gilbert’s 1963 patent that made vaping popular (although it also ultimately failed to be commercialised).
The invention of modern-day e-cigarettes is credited to Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, who engineered a device that would deliver nicotine in vapour form. His design took hold in Europe, and then the American market.
The rest they say, is history and vaping continues to grow in popularity year on year, helping millions quit smoking and saving innumerable lives from lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the stats to see just how popular vaping has become in the UK.
UK Vaping: Facts and Figures
Today, modern technology paved the way for the numerous e-cigs and mods that you see out in the market. In fact, the industry is predicted to grow to approximately $61.4 billion (£46.21 billion) worldwide by 2025.
Various government bodies and scientists are at odds regarding the health benefits of vaping. The World Health Organization, for one, does not consider electronic cigarettes as a legitimate way for smokers to successfully quit their addiction. The American Heart Organization, on the other hand, promoted the use of e-cigs to quit tobacco smoking.
However, this didn’t stop the industry from taking a foothold, especially in the UK market. In fact, the cartomizer was invented by two brothers from the UK - Umer and Tariq Sheikh.
In 2014, the first e-cigarette commercial was aired on British television, following regulation changes regarding the depiction of e-cigarette use in advertising.
Take a look at these numbers and see how much vaping progressed in the country:
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1. Year-on-year rise in the number of vapers
In 2017, public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) released its report on the year-on-year rise of vapers in the UK (refer to image 1). E-cig users increased to 2.9 million in 2017 up from 700,000 in 2012.
Additionally, multinational professional services company Ernst & Young found that the UK leads the uptake of vaping products, based on a study of seven countries (i.e. UK, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Russia, and South Korea). Total usage across the UK is 4.2% of its adult population, followed by 3.1% of adults in France.
Given its number of users, the country’s vaping industry surged by 50% from 2016 numbers, effectively reaching £1 billion in sales in 2017. It is currently on track to exceed £2 billion by 2020.
Image 2. Source: ONS
According to 2016 data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), there are more men across all age groups who tried an e-cigarette, have been an e-cigarette user, and are current e-cigarette users (refer to image 2).
3. Social grades
Image 3. Source: Parliament of Australia
Current research by the Parliament of Australia (PDF) shows that those in lower social grades in the UK are more likely to smoke cigarettes and use vaping as an alternative to tobacco smoking (refer to image 3).
4. Smoker vs non-smoker
Image 4. Source: ASH
According to the 2017 ASH study, there is a continued rise amongst ex-smokers who now use e-cigarettes (52%), as opposed to a decline in current smokers who also use e-cigarettes (refer to image 4).
Additionally, the ONS found that the main reason British adults vape is that they (rightfully) regarded them as less harmful than cigarettes, followed by its convenient indoor use and its cheaper price compared to tobacco products.
Adult e-cig users are also more common in households with dependent children as opposed to those with no children (refer to image 5 below).
Image 5. Source: ONS
5. Frequency of use
Image 6. Source: ONS
2017 data from ONS also found that 75% of e-cigarette users vape daily, an increase from 70% in 2016 (refer to image 6).
6. Perception of e-cig harm (relative to cigarette smoking) and health impact
Image 7. Source: ONS
Whether a vaper is an ex-cigarette user, a current cigarette user, or has never been an e-cigarette user, 2017 data from ONS found that e-cigarettes are perceived to be much less harmful than cigarettes by the majority of its respondents (refer to image 7).
Moreover, the majority of respondents also believe that e-cigarettes do not impact others who are exposed to them but do not use e-cigs directly (refer to image 8 below).
Image 8. Source: ONS
7. Aesthetics and flavour preference
Image 9. Source: Real Trading
In terms of flavour, figures from VIP Electronic Cigarettes show that vape users have moved away from the traditional tobacco flavours and prefer other e-liquid flavours, including mango chutney and bacon (refer to image 9). Preferences vary based on location, gender, and age.
8. Decline in cigarette smoking
Image 10. Source: ASH
According to ASH, quitting tobacco use is the main reason why e-cigarette users vape. Current cigarette smokers, on the other hand, use e-cigarettes to reduce their tobacco use but not to stop completely (refer to image 10).
Various studies have pointed out the health benefits of vaping, primarily of which is ending nicotine abuse. In fact, Public Health England recognised e-cigarettes to be less damaging than smoking tobacco.
Moreover, the number of smokers in the country dropped to 17.2% - a record low since 1974. More than a million people in Britain are now using e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
Benefits of Vaping
The recent surge in vape users are brought by the following benefits:
- Health. A 2017 landmark cross-sectional research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the long-term effects of e-cigarettes and found that those who use e-cigs have substantially reduced levels of carcinogens and toxins in their bodies. Additionally, anecdotal evidence from vapers themselves also includes experiencing less coughing, less irritability, less nausea, improved circulation and a better sense of taste/smell.
- Different flavours. E-liquid flavours also make the experience enjoyable. You don’t have to limit yourself to a tobacco-like taste. You can choose from a myriad of flavours, including fish and chips, breakfast tea, or bacon.
- Aesthetics. Compared to cigarettes, vaping does not emit harsh smells that linger and get into clothing and fabrics. E-cigarettes also do not have any sidestream emission like those found with a smouldering cigarette tip. You can safely vape indoors, provided that you do it in a designated area.
- Convenience. In many places, vaping is more socially acceptable than smoking cigarettes, given the former’s minimal aesthetic and health impact on bystanders. You also won’t have to light an entire cigarette stick; you can instead take one or two puffs on your e-cigarette as desired.
- Cheaper alternative. There are many cheap starter and pod vape kits for vaping geared towards beginners. Once you get the hang of it, you can shell out more for a good vape mod and tank. Afterwards, you only need to refill your e-juice and coil head as needed.
Keep in mind that when purchasing your vaping kit, you should look at high-quality mods and e-liquids. This would be instrumental in your sticking with vaping (especially if you plan on quitting smoking) and enjoying the experience.