WARNING: This product contains nicotine, nicotine is an addictive chemical.
Only for audlts, anyone below the age of 21 is prohibited from buying e-cigarette.
UK vape users have grown rapidly recently and now account for one-tenth of the country’s population. The market predicts that vaping devices will surpass traditional cigarettes in the mid-2020s. However, the government concern may lead to stricter regulations. Although some governments are cautious, the British National Health Service advocates the use of e-cigarettes as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. And the industry already has nearly 3,500 e-cigarette stores.
Even since the British indoor smoking ban was enacted in 2007, the smell of cigarettes is still hard to stay away from. Today, however, people are more likely to smell the “fresh, mellow taste” of blueberry lemonade or watermelon flavor of vapes.
Based on current trends, e-cigarettes are expected to become more popular than traditional cigarettes by the mid-2020s. However, the industry is concerning that regulatory measures may be introduced following a round of government consultation due to end in December.
To meet the needs of the 4.7 million vape users in the UK, the e-cigarette industry is growing day by day. A report by the Center for Business and Economic Research, a think tank, shows that the industry’s turnover in 2021 reached 2.8 billion pounds ($3.4 billion), supporting nearly 18,000 jobs. The number of e-cigarette users increase by nearly a third since then.
In addition, there are currently nearly 3,500 specialist vape shops in the UK, according to research firm Local Data Company. Among them, vpz is the largest chain store. It was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Leith, Edinburgh. It now has more than 150 stores in the UK. The company starts to produce its own e-cigarette liquid in Scotland since 2016, saw its turnover increase by almost 60% in 2022 to £36 million.
Many governments are wary of the potential health benefits of ingesting nicotine through inhalation of vapor rather than tobacco smoke. But the UK’s National Health Service has argued for a shift. In April this year, the government announced the Exchange to Quit scheme, which will provide free e-cigarette starter kits to up to 1 million smokers. It is the first such scheme in the world.
In addition, the e-cigarette industry has also been one of the few beneficiaries of the rising cost of living in the UK in recent years. The average price of a pack of 20 cigarettes is now £14.57, while disposable vapes, which provide a similar amount of inhalation, cost around £5. Moreover, for these refillable vape devices that can refill with e-liquid are less than half the price. Therefore, more and more smokers who are increasingly cost-conscious are turning to vapes.
However, just six months after announcing the giveaway of e-cigarette kits, the government launched a round of e-cigarette regulation consultation. It seems to herald a more stringent approach.
Charity organization Material Focus estimates that sales of disposable vaping devices have doubled since 2022, reaching 360 million annual sales. In addition, Rex Zhang, strategy director at Smoore International, one of China’s e-cigarette manufacturer, estimates that the UK accounts for 40% of the European market for disposable vape devices. These devices are available in supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations and laundromats.
The Local Government Association and the Scottish Government have both calls for a total ban on disposable vaping equipment. This is partly because most of these devices end up in landfills. Additionally, these devices are easily accessible to minors. Although it is already illegal to sell these devices to anyone under the age of 18, enforcement is weak. Responses to a Freedom of Information Act request covering ten London boroughs and 11 large provincial towns has a data. They revealed that between 2018 and 2021, there were only 21 successful prosecutions for the illegal sale of e-cigarettes. And the total fines being a paltry £2,188.
The vape companies are open to more regulation. Douglas Mutter, a director at vpz, said sales of disposable vapes account for less than 15% of its revenue. The industry is calling for a licensing system similar to that require to sell alcohol. And with automatic fines of up to £10,000 for breaches.
Even ex-smokers tend to like the taste. As one participant at an e-cigarette industry gathering in London this week says: “Just because a child buys alcohol, it doesn’t mean we can only drink methanol.”
The UK is the leader at regulating e-cigarettes. International vape manufacturers will be watching closely to see whether this industry prospect is as fragrant as the vapor it produces.