E-cigs lose their spark as smoking cessation aids

March 1, 2017

E-cigarettes may be the nation’s most popular smoking cessation method, but new research from Mintel reveals that the number of smokers using E-cigarettes to quit smoking is on the decline.

Over the last two years, the number of smokers or ex-smokers using E-cigarettes to kick the smoking habit has declined from seven in 10 (69%) in 2014 to 62% in 2016. Meanwhile, the use of other smoking cessation methods largely remains the same. The top three methods used to quit smoking are E-cigarettes (62%), non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy products (15%) and nicotine replacement gums/patches on prescription from health professionals (14%).

Mintel research indicates that while growth in the value of the E-cigarette sector has slowed, the smoking cessation* sector is reigniting. Indeed, following a peak in smoking cessation sales of £136 million in 2013, the market remained static at £127 million between 2014 and 2015. By 2016, there was a return to growth with sales estimated to have risen by 4% to reach £132 million. Meanwhile, growth in the value of the E-cigarette sector has tapered off, with a 4% rise in value in 2014 compared to an impressive 300% in 2013. Sales rose by 8% in 2015 followed by 6% in 2016 when the market reached £230 million. Overall, consumer usage of E-cigarettes has remained at 17% since 2014.

Today, as many as 53% of Brits believe E-cigarettes should be regulated by the NHS. Meanwhile, 57% are concerned there isn’t enough information available on how E-cigarettes work. Consumers aged 55 and over are most likely to want more information on E-cigarettes (64%), while younger Brits are more likely to agree that E-cigarettes are not harmful (28% of 18-24s).

Roshida Khanom, Senior Beauty & Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The lack of licensed products positioned as smoking cessation methods is hampering the E-cigarette sector and, as a result, we are not seeing as many new users enter the market. Our research shows that the majority of consumers don’t know how E-cigarettes work and that they would like to see more NHS regulation. Those who are using E-cigarettes as a smoking cessation method are doing so with little in the way of official guidance, whether from the market or the NHS.”

Today, 30% of Brits smoke regular cigarettes, compared to 33% in 2014. Men are more likely to smoke than women (35% vs 24%), and younger consumers are more likely to smoke than more mature consumers (47% of 25-34s compared with 18% of over-55s). Living up to its title of the ‘Big Smoke’, smoking peaks in London where just under half (47%) of all consumers smoke. Meanwhile, smoking is at its lowest in South West/Wales (22%).

Some four in 10 (42%) smokers intend to quit in the future, but just over one quarter (27%) have no interest in quitting whatsoever. Meanwhile, 14% are currently trying to cut down and 14% are currently trying to quit. Mintel research reveals that vaping shows no impact on smoking, with 41% of vapers intending to quit smoking in the future and 17% currently trying to quit.

Finally, Mintel research indicates that the biggest usage occasion for vaping amongst Britain’s workers is during work breaks (38%). One third (34%) of vape users smoke when they feel stressed, rising to 37% amongst male users.

“The fact that men and young consumers are more likely to smoke suggests a connection between smoking and stress, which is known to be high for these specific demographics. Those who are most likely to smoke are also most likely to vape, suggesting that vaping largely appeals to smokers.” concludes Roshida.

*Smoking cessation products are defined as those products intended to assist and support smokers who are attempting to quit smoking. This includes NRTs (Nicotine Replacement Therapies) which deliver a measured dose of nicotine to a smoker that replaces the nicotine usually obtained from cigarettes.


Roshida Khanom, Senior Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, joined in 2012 and writes about the OTC, Beauty & Personal Care industries. Prior to joining Mintel, she was a Senior Researcher at Procter & Gamble’s R&D department in the beauty division, where she launched products globally, identified trends and analysed consumer responses to new innovations with a particular focus in qualitative methods

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