In 2023, most people are aware of the health benefits of swapping your cigarette for a vape. Public Health England has estimated vaping to be 95% less harmful than smoking, while NHS research found that ex-smokers who used vaping were more likely to quit cigarettes than those using other nicotine replacement therapies such as patches.
But one aspect of vaping that is often less obvious to people is its economic impact. With around 3.2 million adults in England alone using vapes and e-cigarettes being the most popular smoking cessation aid on the market, it should be no surprise that vaping is having a real financial impact on the UK.
Recently, the Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr) conducted a report into the economic contribution of vaping to the UK. They analysed all aspects of how the vaping industry impacts the economy, including its direct contributions and the impact of its supply chains as well as the indirect economic impacts of former smokers switching over to e-cigarettes. Here’s a closer look at some of their findings.
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The rise of vape shops
The number of vape shops in the UK has grown from almost 2,281 in 2017 to 3,644 in 2020, an increase of nearly 16%. Vape shops are the most popular place for people to buy their e-cigarettes, vape juice, and other vape products; in 2021, 33% of vaping spending was in physical vape stores.
With many high street shop closures throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the growth of vape shops can be seen as a great way to tempt people back to their local high street. Although shopping online has become the norm for many products such as clothes, people also still like visiting a vape shop in person. Their presence on the high street can even lead to people spending more money in the local economy – buying a coffee or a snack on the way to the vape shop and popping in the clothes shop next door on their way out, for example.
Jobs in vaping and supply chains
The report estimated that in 2021 the vaping industry created 8,215 full-time equivalent jobs in the UK, providing £154m in compensation to workers. And it’s not just these jobs that are impacted – Cebr estimated that for every 10 jobs directly created by the vaping industry, another 7.4 jobs are supported along their supply chains. An estimated 17,700 jobs are supported by the vaping industry when considering both direct employment and in supply chains.
Vaping’s economic impact by region
The economic impact of the vaping industry hasn’t been felt equally in all regions of the UK. According to the Cebr report, Scotland was the region with the highest number of people employed in the vaping industry, while Northern Ireland saw the fewest vaping industry employees. Meanwhile, vaping industry workers received the highest compensation in the South East, the region where vaping generates the highest turnover and GVA.
The real impact of smokers quitting
Of course, the economic impacts of the vaping industry ripple out far beyond sales and jobs themselves. By encouraging smokers to swap their cigarettes for e-cigarettes, the vaping industry has a major impact on the wider population, their healthcare needs, and their spending habits.
For example, the Cebr report estimated that £322 million in healthcare costs was saved in 2019 as a result of smokers quitting cigarettes. This leads to an estimated increase in productivity worth £1.3 billion – a figure that will only grow more as increasing numbers of ex-smokers make the switch.
So, is vaping good for the economy?
It appears without a doubt that the vaping industry has had a significant impact on regional and national economies, with turnover that grows each year, paying wages for the equivalent of over 8,000 employees, and generating hundreds of millions in annual tax revenue – £310m in 2020 alone. For every £10 of turnover generated by the UK vape industry in 2020, an additional £11.16 worth of turnover was created in the wider economy.
Even more importantly, vaping is helping thousands of smokers kick the habit, helping them lead happier, healthier lives. By increasing their productivity and saving money for the NHS, this also has a major financial impact for the UK.
With the vaping industry’s current momentum, it looks likely that the economic benefits of e-cigarettes will continue to multiply as the vape industry grows in the future. The UK e-liquid manufacturing scene is already on the rise, with many UK e-liquid brands soaring to popularity including Vampire Vape, Wick Liquor, Just Jam, and many more.
We’re also seeing a shift in the type of vape brands and shops. The world of vaping has always had a strong community-focused element and vape shops are increasingly trying to reflect this. One great example is Vaping 101. In addition to their award-winning online store, Vaping 101’s brick and mortar presence in Aberdeen seeks to turn a vape shop into a community hub with knowledgeable experts, coffee, and even wireless phone charging tables to encourage visitors to stick around.
Overall, 2023 is an exciting time for the vaping industry. No longer the domain of only the most serious cloud-chasers, vaping has become more accessible and beneficial to everyone. The social and economic benefits of this are clear, helping contribute to a healthier and happier smoke-free society.