US: Improved flavor drives major growth in vaping
November 10th, 2023, Clifton Mark

US: Improved flavor drives major growth in vaping

Nicotine use is increasing in America. In 2019, 72.0% of Americans said they use no nicotine products, but this has fallen slightly to 68.8% in 2023. While prevalence of smoking cigarettes and cigars is relatively stable, there has been huge growth in the use of some nicotine products, particularly vaporizers.

According to data from YouGov Profiles more people report smoking regularly in 2023 than in 2019. In 2019, 14.3% of Americans said they regularly smoked cigarettes; in 20232, 15.2% said the same. For cigars, the proportion moved from 4.2% to 4.7%. While smoking in America has gradually fallen a great deal over the past decades, this data suggests a small rebound.

Some nicotine users are also trying to quit. In the past four years, more consumers are turning to nicotine gum, with 4.3% of respondents saying they use it regularly in 2023 compared to 2.6% in 2019. Use of nicotine-delivering patches has remained relatively stable at around 2%.

Vaping, however, is exploding. In 2019, 8.6% of consumers said they regularly use a vaporizer or e-cigarette. In 2023, the figure is 12.0%, representing an increase of two fifths (39.8%). Vapes and e-cigs are now nearly as popular as cigarettes.

Growth in vaping is driven especially by younger consumers. Among 18-29-year-olds, regular use of these products has grown by a whopping 51.1% over the past five years and by 64.0% among 30-44-year-olds. Among consumers aged 45-64, growth has been a comparatively modest 11.1%. Vaping among seniors (65+) is quite uncommon, with only 1.9% doing it regularly.

What’s driving this massive growth? Vapes seem to be winning on flavor. YouGov asked vaporizer and e-cigarette users why they use alternative nicotine products, and 38.4% said that it’s because alternatives to cigarettes taste better. Not only is 38.4% a large proportion of vape users, it represents a major increase compared to four years ago when only 26.1% selected flavour as a reason for using nicotine alternatives. This increase coincides with the rise of disposable vapes which many users believe taste better.

According to a survey conducted in September 2019, most Americans (52.8%) supported banning the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products. While it is uncertain if support for such a ban is as strong today, vaporizer use is growing rapidly, especially among younger Americans. Moreover, improved flavor seems to be a significant factor drawing them in.