Flavour driving switch to vapes, say British consumers
October 10th, 2023, Clifton Mark

Flavour driving switch to vapes, say British consumers

Britons may be giving up smoking, but this doesn’t mean they’re giving up nicotine. Over the past five years, use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers has risen sharply. The chart below compares what kind of nicotine products Britons used in 2018 to today.

The good news for public health is that Britain is giving up smoking in all forms. There are 16.1% fewer smokers of store-bought cigarettes than five years ago and 18.8% fewer cigar smokers. Even use of hand-rolled cigarettes and shisha has dropped. To help themselves quit, more consumers are turning to nicotine gum, which has grown 16.7% in popularity since 2018. Use of nicotine-delivering patches, however, dropped by half (50.0%).

However, the decline in smoking is being offset by rapid growth in vaping. In 2018, 8.5% of consumers said they regularly use a vaporizer or e-cigarette. In 2023, the figure is 11.6%, representing an increase of more than a third (36.1%). Vapes and e-cigs are now by far the most widely-used means of nicotine delivery, nearly twice as popular as store bought cigarettes (11.6% vs. 6.1%), the next most common option.

Growth in vaping is driven especially by younger consumers. Among 18-29-year-olds, regular use of these products has grown by a whopping 73.8% over the past five years and by 46.8% among 30-50-year-olds. Among consumers aged 51+, growth has been a comparatively modest 5.2%.

What’s driving this massive growth? YouGov asked vaporizer and e-cigarette users why they use alternative nicotine products. The most popular reasons are that they’re cheaper (54.9%) and healthier (40.3%). However, both reasons for vaping are less common than they were five years ago. In fact, nearly all the reasons for using nicotine alternatives are less common than they were five years ago, except two.

According to YouGov data, vapes are winning on flavour. Nearly a third (29.5%) of those who use nicotine alternatives say they do so because prefer the taste. This is a 28.1% increase compared to those who provided the same answer five years ago. Similarly, the proportion of British vapers who cited flavour variety grew by a third from 15.9% to 20.9%. This increase coincides with the rise of disposable vapes which many users believe taste better.

Britain is smoking less than it was five years ago, in all forms. However, improved flavour seems to be driving major growth in e-cigarette and vaporizer use, especially among younger consumers. Apparently, younger Britons are following their taste buds to a new kinds of nicotine product.