Is the UK Really Experiencing a Decline in E-cig Usage?

Who remembers when e-cigs first started gaining popularity? If you’re in the world of vaping, you know e-cigarettes started taking off around 2009. Since then, much of the world labeled these devices as a fad product. Not many people thought this novel idea would stick. Even pro-vaping enthusiasts were unsure about the success these products would have. In fact, e-cigarettes were still considered by many to be a fad up until 2014. It was only then when research showed that the electronic cigarette market would grow annually through 2025.

And yet, even with all of the reports showing that the e-cig market is booming and should continue to do so, new data has suggested that the UK looks to be experiencing a notable drop in e cig usage.

Global market research firm Mintel claimed that fewer “quitters” are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, dropping from 69% to 62% of users. Mintel notes that a “lack of licensed products as smoking cessation methods is hampering the e-cigarette sector,” and thus new e-cigarette user rates are on the decline. But, is this really true?

Mintel is unquestionably a leader in research, and we have no reason to doubt their data. However, this new report should be taken with a giant grain of salt.

For starters, there was a recent report that conducted analysis from Twitter about the vaping world. It collected more than 3 million tweets from 2012-2015 regarding why people vape. In 2012, quitting smoking was cited as the number one reason for using e-cigs (43%), however by 2015 less than 30% said that quitting smoking was the reason for them using e-cigarettes. While that’s certainly a drop and thus it would seem the new data is accurate in regard to declining rates in people using e-cigs for quitting, this isn’t entirely accurate.

The term “vaping” only stuck beginning of 2014. Prior to this, people were hardly identifying as “vapers” or even using the term vaping. Moreover, though e-cigs and vaping are virtually the same thing, the mindset on both of these are completely different. Some people may vape to quit however most people “vape” because it’s become more of a more social activity. E-cigs (not “vaping”), on the other hand, are still used primarily to quit.

Secondly, this Mintel report only focused on people attempting to quit and their usage rates. The fact of the matter is that more people are identifying as a “vaper,” specifically since box mods are the go to device in the e-cig/vaping market. People are using box mods increasingly, and as noted above, the social implications are obvious (it’s less about “quitting”).

It’s important to note two aspects of the Mintel report. One, they showed that people are using e-cigs less as a smoking cessation device. This may be true, however the title of the article is extremely misleading…which takes us to our second point: the UK’s e-cigarette boom is not over as the article title flat out says. Perhaps people are using e-cigs less as a means to quit smoking, however actual e-cig usage is still on the rise, and is expected to be so well into the future.

This just goes to show how much one minor headline can have such a major effect on people’s opinions.

Photo Credit: Flickr – Jeff Pineau/CC BY 2.0

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