UK consumers leading in uptake of vaping products

06 February 2017

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The British public are switching from traditional cigarettes to vaping devices (e-cigarettes) faster than anyone in Europe. In the last four years, the British have switched to vaping at the rate of one person every four minutes.[1] This is according to the latest seven market study into ENDS – Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems* – released by multinational professional services company EY.

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The EY report shows that 2.2 million British people now use e-cigarettes – this is up by 55% in just three years.[2] In total, 4.2% of British adults vape. France has the next highest penetration at 3.1%.

Vapers told researchers that their main reasons for using the new devices were because they saw them as less harmful than cigarettes and because they helped them cut back or quit smoking.

Peter Arnold, Director at EY commented: “Our report shows that this is a rapidly growing and evolving market. Consumers are driving innovation in devices, flavours and nicotine levels. There are now more regular consumers and evidence of increased migration from dual to sole use”.

The most important driver and barrier to accelerating uptake, is related to the perceived health implications relative to cigarettes.  This applies across all markets.

In the UK - which has the highest take-up in our survey - the Government’s advisory body, Public Health England and The Royal College of Physicians, have publicly backed the products as being considerably safer than traditional cigarettes.

The report also shows that in the UK:

  • 850,000 vapers now classify themselves as ex-smokers (up 10 per cent in a year)[3]
  • 470 people a day switched completely over to E-Cigarettes in the last two years[4]
  • The proportion of “dual users” who still smoke cigarettes has reduced by 45 per cent in three years and now stands at around one third, or 750,000.[5]

Although e-cigarette growth is largest in the UK, globally the e-cigarette market is growing too. The value of the ENDS market worldwide has increased by 800 per cent since 2010 and now stands at £6.1 billion worldwide. It is estimated that it will double again in the next three years to £12 billion by 2020.

Kingsley Wheaton, Managing Director for Next Generation Products, at British American Tobacco said: “The UK has one of the most progressive regulatory environments for e-cigarettes and that’s reflected in consumer uptake and category growth.

 “The UK government has created an environment which enables consumers to be informed about the products, have access to them and allows manufacturers to innovate and provide quality vaping products. With many UK experts in Science and Health endorsing e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking, up-take of e-cigarettes can only be a good thing”


[1] Based on the data, there was a 380,000 increase in ex-smoker ENDS users  in the UK between 2013 and 2016 which equates to approximately 350 per day; so around 1 every 4 minutes.

[2] The Office of National Statistics estimates that there are almost 52 million adults over 18 in the UK. Based on the data, 4.2% of UK adults are ENDS users, indicating total users of approximately 2.2 million.

[3] The data show that, in 2016, 39% of vapers classify themselves as ex-smokers (up from 35% in 2015). Applying this to the 2.2 million total vapers gives around 850,000.

[4] The number of ex-smokers increased by approximately 342,000 between 2014 and 2016 (from 33% to 39% of users). This averages at approximately 470 people per day.

[5] The number of dual users reduced from 62% to 34%, a reduction of 28 percentage points or 45%. The current total as per the report is 34% which equates to around 750,000 using 2.2 million as the base vaping population.