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Once quitting smoking was simply a matter of a patch, gum or tablet, but new research from Mintel sees smokers in the UK increasingly turning to E-cigarettes to beat the habit. Indeed, latest research from Mintel finds that today, while sales of smoking cessation aids have slowed, the market for E-cigarettes in the UK is booming, increasing an impressive 340% over the past year from an estimated £44 million in 2012 to reach an estimated £193 million in 2013.

While the smoking cessation market* has seen strong growth historically, with annual increases of around 6-10% between 2009-12, sales of products such as gum, tablets and patches have slowed. Indeed, in 2013 the market for smoking cessation aids grew just 1.7% to reach a value of £131 million.

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

“The rise in popularity of E-cigarettes has hampered growth in the value of the smoking cessation market, which saw modest growth in 2013. Although E-cigarettes are largely marketed as an alternative to smoking, smokers have been using them to cut down or quit smoking. But with the growing popularity of E-cigarettes, there is concern that young people may take up ‘vaping’ as a less harmful alternative to smoking. This concern has resulted in the Government announcement made in January 2014 that the sale of E-cigarettes to under-18s is to be made illegal.”

A greater proportion of smokers and ex-smokers agree that E-cigarettes are a good way to cut down (32%) rather than quit smoking (26%), suggesting that people are using them as both a smoking cessation aid and an alternative to tobacco. More than three in 10 people (31%) agree that there is a lack of information on the long-term effects of using E-cigarettes, however, only 20% agree that they will only be considered safe once they have NHS approval. Despite this, one in 10 (10%) people who currently or used to smoke agree that E-cigarettes may encourage people to start smoking who otherwise may not have, rising to 19% of those aged 16-24.

“These findings suggest that young people may take up E-cigarettes instead of tobacco, and supports the government decision to make it illegal to sell these products to under-18s. Proposed changes in legislation from 2016 are likely to see E-cigarettes classified as medicines and so brands will need to provide more information to support their claims if they wish to remain in the market. A brand that can become the spearhead for this can distinguish itself in the market and win consumer confidence, as well as becoming the leading brand to be prescribed by the NHS (or recommended by the NHS)” Roshida continues.

Mintel’s exclusive research questioning smokers who are trying to quit or who have quit smoking, finds the most popular smoking cessation method is non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), used by half (50%) of people who have or are trying to quit smoking, and rated effective by 35%. Although not an official smoking cessation product, today, E-cigarettes are the second most popular method used by 45% of people and rated equally as effective as non-prescription NRT (35%). Additionally, E-cigarettes are rated as being as effective as non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in helping smokers kick the habit.

Meanwhile, the NHS Stop Smoking services have also been popular, used by 38% of smokers and ex-smokers and rated effective by 28%. “The supportive methods offered by the NHS, which include one-to-one or group coaching as well as being able to track your progress, are likely behind its success.” Roshida concludes.

Why quit?

Improving health (69%), saving money (57%) and improving appearance (25%) are the top three motivators which encourage people to quit smoking. Concerns for health increase with age, with 73% of over-65s listing this as a motivator to stop smoking tobacco. When it comes to young people, appearance is important, with 30% of 16-24s listing appearance as a motivation. Women are also more motivated by appearance (31%) offering new opportunities for brand communication.

Smoking on the decline…

Overall, four in ten (39%) Brits have never been smokers. More than a fifth (22%) used to smoke but stopped more than 6 months ago, while 3% used to smoke but stopped in the last six months.

The highest proportion of non-smokers come from those aged 16-24, with over half (54%) never having smoked. Additionally, smokers in this age bracket are most likely to want to quit, with 35% currently trying to quit and only 6% with no interest in quitting. Smokers (including those who only smoke on social occasions) make up 36% of Brits, with the majority smoking between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day (15%). Around one in five (4%) Brits are “social smokers” only smoking when at the pub or out with friends etc. Men are heavier smokers, with almost twice the proportion of men smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day compared with women (11% vs 6%).