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ONS Smoking and Vaping Figures Announced

Smoking rates in Great Britain continued to spiral down in 2020, according to the latest findings produced by the Office for National Statistics

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Smoking rates in Great Britain continued to spiral down in 2020, according to the latest findings produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It comes as the industry announces updated figures and market information.

GB smoking rates have now fallen from 2019’s figure of 15.8% to 14.5% last year. This means there are now around 7.6 million smokers, which is down from the peak figure of 27 million four decades ago. The overall rate temporarily rose to 16.8% due to the impact of the Covid-related lockdowns.

The government has announced that it is aiming to have a “Smokefree Britain” by 2030 and the ONS’ findings prompted a spokesperson to say the end of smoking is “finally in sight”.

ONS figures show that male smoking rates have fallen from 17.9% to 15.3% but the story isn’t so positive for women. Rates for women aged 35 to 49 from rose from 14.3% to 15.1%, those aged 50 to 59 increased from 14.6% to 16.1% and those over 60 rose from 8.7% to 9.1%.

The number of ex-smokers who now vape has risen from 11.7% to 12.3%. The increase in those using vaping to quit smoking is driving the ecig market to new highs.

Grocery Trader reports that the vape sector has now bloomed to a value of £1.2 billion in the UK. It also says that 44% of all vape product sales now takes place through the grocery sector and not from specialist vendors.

Part of this increase in the value of vape sales is being driven by a ban on flavoured tobacco products, according to Duncan Cunningham, the UK Corporate Affairs Director at Imperial Tobacco.

Some consumers have been looking to vaping to fulfil their flavour needs,” he said. “In fact, our best-selling variant in the myblu range is the Menthol Intense Liquidpod.” Cunningham described the pod sector as “an incredibly fast-moving category”.

A brand manager for JTI UK added that the tobacco-free nicotine pouch sector is also entering a boom phase, it “continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. Existing adult smokers and vapers today aren’t looking for a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, we know that there is a real demand for convenience and the option to have different products to suit different occasions.”

The UK sales director at Juul Labs informed the trade:

  • Closed pods are the dominant sector in multiples with 52.4% share
  • Open systems have a 28.7% market share
  • Year on year, closed systems have fuelled a 36.7% growth in sales
  • JUUL has seen growth of 49.8%

Laith Sheena, Sales Director, IVG UK, told Grocery Trader that the e-liquid sector has seen changes: “Fruit flavours have increased significantly in popularity since the menthol ban; whilst Tobacco and Menthol vape products are still popular, in many key retailers they are no longer in the top 3.


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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