Middle-aged blazing a trail for vaping

Middle-aged people are leading the surge in vaping in the UK, according to new figures from Mintel.

The market research company found that the biggest rise in vapers is in those aged 45 to 54 years. In fact, vapers in this age group have grown from 13 per cent in 2016 to 20 per cent in 2018.

Eighteen to 24-year-olds are still the most likely to vape. But vaping has risen at a slower rate in this younger age group – from 24 per cent in 2016 to 28 per cent in 2018.

One in five Brits are vapers

Today, as many as one in five (19 per cent) Brits vape. This up from 17 per cent in 2016. Men (26 per cent) are twice as likely to vape as women (13 per cent).

Although sales of e-cigarettes slowed down in 2016, the category is still performing well.  Valued at £283 million in 2018, it enjoyed strong growth, increasing 12 per cent from 2017 (£252 million).

Mintel Associate Director, Beauty & Personal Care, Roshida Khanom, 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 among 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 per cent).”

The ‘gateway’ myth?

Mintel’s research also revealed a strong desire for regulation of the vaping market.

Sixty-two per cent of Brits favoured regulation. More than half (55 per cent) of Brits believe that vaping is addictive and 42 per cent believe it is a ‘gateway’ to smoking.

But, interestingly, only one per cent of non-smokers vape. This suggests that the common ‘gateway’ perception is a myth and that very few non-smokers take up vaping. In reality, the vast majority of vapers are current or former smokers.

“It’s interesting that such a high number of people are looking for regulation in the vaping industry,” Ms Khanom said. “This is 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 it’s 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 National Health Service (NHS) describes it as ‘relatively harmless’ – with the dangers of traditional smoking coming from other chemicals in tobacco smoke.”

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