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UK Vape Industry Overview

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10 Jan 2021

UK Vape Industry Overview

The UK has witnessed a stratospheric rise in vaping over the last 15 years. Following the UK ban on indoor smoking in 2007, e-cigarettes became an instant hit on their arrival here the very same year. Since then, we’ve seen countless e-cig pop-ups make their way onto our high streets. Everyone from ex-smokers to instagram influencers have joined the vape revolution, and the numbers only seem to be climbing.

We’re going to take an in-depth look at the UK vape industry. We’ll examine the reasons behind its ever-growing popularity, how it’s performing and what the future looks like for the e-cig trade. If you consider yourself a vape enthusiast, or are interested in setting up your own vape shop, we’ll also let you know where to get the very best UK Vape Deals.

Let’s get started.

How Did Vaping Get So Popular?

From ex-cig smokers to instagram vape stars, the UK e-cig market has a multifaceted demographic to thank for its monumental success. Many ex-smokers made the switch to electronic cigarettes as a way of by-passing the 2007 indoor smoking ban. Since then, there’s been a steady annual rise in the amount of smokers and ex-smokers who use e-cigs. Statistics are showing that 13% of former smokers are now vaping, with the numbers falling between 14% and 20% for current smokers.

Although vaping is mostly prevalent in adults who currently (or used to) smoke, the past 5 years has also seen a huge surge in e-cig usage among young people.

Such a meteoric rise in popularity is likely a result of a number of the below factors:

- Healthier Alternative to Smoking

Although attempts have been made to discredit the benefits of vaping over smoking, it’s now widely accepted as one of the safest alternatives. The NHS recommends e-cigarettes as a helpful tool to quitting conventional cigarettes. They describe vaping as ‘less harmful [than smoking]’, describing the ‘growing evidence’ of their effectiveness. With the support of the NHS, many people have successfully used vaping as a means of quitting smoking for good.

- Flavoured products

Young people especially are attracted to the many flavours of e-cigarettes now available on the market. There are now almost 20,000 e-liquids being produced with over 250 unique flavour profiles - a number that’s on the rise. Sweet flavours that are reminiscent of desserts often provides the user with a sense of comfort and calm, encouraging them to go back for more. The sheer number of flavour options has surely had a huge impact on the number of people trying e-cigs over the past decade.

- Social Media

Like many other trends, social media has played a huge role in the uptake of vaping among the young generation. Influencers such as Austin Lawrence and Byron Datau have made names for themselves performing vape tricks online, accumulating millions of followers along the way. Their popularity stands witness to the younger generations genuine interest in the vape industry. It’s no surprise that e-cigarette usage is on the rise among Gen Z and millennials.

- Accessibility

E-cigarette shops have been popping up left, right and centre over the UK for the past decade. These brick and mortar stores have piqued public interest in the practice of vaping, either as a hobby or as a safer alternative to smoking. The ability to buy e-liquids online has surely had a positive impact on vape sales across the UK. Many online stores now offer competitive vape kit deals to UK residents, with free delivery acting as an added incentive to purchase.

But is Vaping Safe?

Since its unprecedented surge in popularity, countless studies have been conducted to explore the effect that vaping has on our health. Though reports are often conflicting, there’s a general consensus that e-cigarettes are, in fact, better for you than conventional smoking.

Public Health England reports that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco, solidifying it as the safest alternative to smoking (besides going cold turkey).

What’s more, the government is constantly putting further regulations in place to ensure that e-cigarettes are being sold and consumed responsibly. Ingredients including certain colourings, caffeine and taurine have now been banned in e-liquids, and new labelling requirements have been put in place. There’s also a cap on nicotine strength, and e-cigarette tanks are restricted to a capacity of no more than 2ml.

These regulations are all a part of an effort to make e-cigarettes safer for the general public, allowing them to vape with better peace of mind.

What’s more, organisations such as the UKVIA (UK Vaping Industry Association) have combated the scaremongering surrounding vaping and its discredited benefits. Their 2019 Facts Not Fiction campaign used premium advertising space to assure the British public that vaping is a ‘vital harm reduction opportunity for public health’.

In all, huge efforts have been made by both the government and regulatory bodies to ensure a positive outlook on the vape industry.

How the Industry is Performing

As aforementioned, the vape industry is continuing to see a steady rise in sales year on year. The global industry is expected to be worth over $29 billion by 2022, proving itself to be both pandemic and recession proof. But how are things looking for the UK market?


According to statistics, the UK is the second largest market for vaping, just behind the US. This could be thanks to organisations such as the NHS and Public Health England advocating vaping as a safer alternative to smoking.

A new, health-focused approach to e-cigarettes has been taken in the UK, allowing the industry to break free from the negative stigmas it’s subjected to in other nations.


E-cigarette shops have been popping up left, right and centre over the UK for the past 15 years. And though high street figures are looking increasingly gloomy for traditional retail stores, brick and mortar vape shops are proving ever more successful. In fact, a report by 365 Business Finance found that the vape industry was the third fastest growing UK retail category in 2018.

Though the vape industry doesn’t seem to have been affected by the dying high street, it has not proven immune to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vape stores across the country had to shut as a part of 2020’s national lockdown measures, having been categorised as a ‘non-essential’ shop. Studies have shown that the majority of e-liquids are purchased from specialist vape stores. This means that the pandemic has had an undoubtedly negative impact on brick and mortar vape sales.


Regardless of the pandemic’s crippling effect on many sectors, the vape industry in the UK remains strong. It’s expected to generate almost $3.5 million in 2021, and grow annually by 5.3%. This is thanks to the industry’s shift in focus to online sales. E-cig and e-liquid outlets are now offering some of the very best vape deals exclusively online. Online sales have helped the industry to not just stay afloat, but thrive at a time of crisis.

Where the Industry is Headed

It’s pretty clear that the e-cig industry will continue to grow well into the next decade. In England alone, one person quits smoking every 80 seconds. Considering that 54.1% of all vapers are ex-smokers, we can expect the meteoric rise in its popularity to continue. The latest statistics show that 14.1% of UK adults still smoke, meaning that there’s likely plenty of future vapers among the population.

Will Vaping Be Banned?

Last year the US banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes following an outcry discrediting their safety. While this rocked the UK vape industry with uncertainty surrounding its future, it’s now clear where our government stands on the matter. The efforts made by the NHS and the UKVIA have solidified the e-cigarette’s place as one of the safest alternatives to smoking. This pretty much guarantees the industry protection from a total ban like the one seen in the US, giving vape businesses peace of mind.

Although the vape industry is relative safe from shut down, you can expect to see the following changes taking effect soon (if they’re not already in place):

- Tougher regulations put in place with regards to the appearance of e-liquid bottles - efforts should be made to avoid bright colours or images that may appeal to children.

- Low nicotine options will become more and more prevalent to combat addiction.

- Vape technology will evolve for better flexibility. Adjustable power settings, improved battery life, enhanced compatibility with different e-liquids will all become the e-cigarette norm.


While the uncertainty of Brexit looms over every UK sector, the outlook remains hopeful for the vaping industry thanks to the government’s pro-e-cig stance. The vape industry is on a positive trajectory that’s set to improve even further with changing attitudes towards the practice. And while businesses can expect tighter regulations with regards to manufacturing and labelling, over all, the future of vaping looks bright.

For more information about vaping, e-cigarettes and e-liquids, visit our website. We offer some of the best Vape Deals in the UK.

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