There are now more ex-smokers in Britain than current smokers, according to a new report from the International Business Times.
The Good News
Figures from anti-smoking charity ASH show that about 22% of men and 19% of women in the UK are current smokers, compared to 27% of men and 22% of women who have quit. The signs have been there for some time, of course. In 1974, more than 50% of adult males in the UK smoked tobacco. The figure has more than halved in 40 years. Rates are higher in continental Europe, but the pattern is still edging towards overall decline.
Of the ex-smokers in Britain, 17.7% are using electronic cigarettes, a figure which has risen from 2.7% in 2010. Of that figure, 71% are using e-cigarettes to help quit smoking altogether, with 48% using them to "keep them off tobacco".
Financial Analysts Market Oracle recently remarked upon the relatively few examples of true market innovation we’ve seen in recent years. Progress in cell phone, computer, and automobile technology is said to have stalled, making it difficult to identify companies that are poised for real growth over the next 5-10 years. But it looks, says Market Oracle, as though an exception can be made in the electronic cigarette industry, which has made some major advances in recent years when compared to the traditional cigarette products. These innovations will have a major impact not only on the health of cigarette smokers but on the broader trajectory in many areas of the marketplace. Electronic cigarettes are changing the landscape — from both a health perspective and from a market perspective.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash said, "The dramatic rise in use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Significantly, usage among non-smokers remains negligible." Ash's survey suggests that most electronic cigarettes users, or "vapers", use a rechargeable product with replaceable cartridges or a reservoir. "There is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking," added Ms Arnott.
E-Cigs vs. Other NRT Devices
Another study, The Smoking Toolkit Study, discovered that electronic cigarettes are overtaking the use of nicotine products such as patches and gum as an aid to quitting smoking. It also found that the proportion of smokers who gave up smoking in the past year had increased and smoking rates in England were continuing to fall.
Study leader Prof Robert West said: "Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks renormalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this view. On the contrary, electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking as more people use them as an aid to quitting."
Elsewhere in the World
When you consider the statistics, the news that Imperial Tobacco posted big declines in revenue and operating profits for the half year to 31 March isn't all that surprising. British American Tobacco also reported a fall in revenue (12%) – it's an industry-wide trend.
The most notable factor in Imperial's results, says IBTimesUK, has been the impact of tighter regulation in Russia, which banned tobacco advertising and smoking in many public places last year. The company directly credited these pieces of legislation with helping trim 17% from its operating profit margins. Russia is the second largest tobacco market in the world, after China.
But is this soon to change? The IBTimesUK reporter recalled that on a trip to Moscow in January, he was struck by the number of users of e-cigarettes – a phenomena not noticed on previous trips to the capital.
Certainly, e-cigarettes have been impossible to escape across Europe in recent years. And a recent report by Research and Markets, a US market research company, shows that India's e-cigarette market is one of the fastest-growing in all of Asia, with the products being sourced mainly from China – although Vapourlites contain British-made pharmaceutical-grade e-liquid.
No wonder investors are scrambling in!