The rise of the middle-aged vaper: Britain’s 45-54s see biggest increase in vaping

February 6, 2019

Middle-aged Brits are increasingly taking up vaping, according to latest research from Mintel on smoking cessation and e-cigarettes, with the biggest rise coming from Brits aged 45-54, up from 13% in 2016 to 20% in 2018. Today’s middle-aged vapers join the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Hammond, and Sarah Silverman – all of whom have been spotted vaping whilst out and about.

And while 18-24-year-olds are the most likely to vape (28%), usage among this group has risen at a slower rate than their middle aged counterparts, increasing from 24% in 2016. Despite this slower growth rate, almost six in ten (57%) Brits feel that too many young people vape.

Today, as many as one in five (19%) Brits vape, up from 17% in 2016, with men (26%) twice as likely to vape than women 13%.

Sales of E-cigarettes are performing well, despite the slowdown in sales in 2016. Valued at £283 million in 2018, the market experienced strong growth increasing 12% from £252 million in 2017.

Roshida Khanom, Mintel Associate Director, Beauty & Personal Care said:

“Over the last couple of years the proportion of vapers has increased with a particular rise in 45-54s, despite public concerns around vaping amongst young people. This increase in vapers among middle-aged Brits may be reflective of them joining what they consider a fashionable trend. Our previous research shows that 45-54s are the age group that are most likely to agree that vaping is fashionable (71%*).”

Call for regulation in a regulated industry

The research reveals a strong desire for the vaping market to be regulated, with 62% of Brits looking for regulation in the vaping industry. More than half (55%) of Brits feel that vaping is addictive, while 42% believe it is a gateway to smoking. But interestingly, only 1% of non-smokers vape, suggesting that whilst the perception that vaping can lead to smoking is high, in reality few non-smokers even take up vaping.

“It’s interesting that such a high number of people are looking for regulation in the vaping industry, despite the fact that it is already a regulated market. This is driven by the high perception that too many young people vape and that vaping is a gateway to smoking. Vaping is considered addictive by the majority of adults. But whilst the nicotine content in E-cigarettes can be addictive, the NHS describes it as ‘relatively harmless’ – with the dangers of traditional smoking coming from other chemicals in tobacco smoke.” adds Roshida.

Decline of the smoking cessation market

Overall, 21% of smokers tried to cut down on smoking in 2018 compared with 14% in 2016. Meanwhile, 23% of ex-smokers kicked the habit in the 12 months to October 2018 – compared with 20% in the 12 months to October 2016.

Half (47%) of smokers who vape use E-cigarettes to help them quit smoking, whilst 38% use these to help them cut down.

While the E-cigarette market has returned to growth, 2018 saw the smoking cessation market** decline by an estimated 2% to reach £145 million, from £148 million in 2017.

“The smoking cessation category is estimated to have declined in value in 2018, as the sector struggles to compete against the fast-growing E-cigarette category. Smoking cessation has seen no breakthrough innovation in recent years, as well as a decline in recorded advertising spend, resulting in little to entice smokers to invest in the sector.” Roshida concludes.

*based on 2016 research

** 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), such as gum, patches and nasal sprays – which deliver a measured dose of nicotine to a smoker that replaces the nicotine usually obtained from cigarettes.

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