Is the traditional tobacco industry about to go up in smoke?

Are you aware of a ban coming into force this May, outlawing a number of popular cigarette products in the UK?

Despite Brexit, from 20th May 2020, The EU revised Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) will make it an offence to produce and sell products that allow consumers to modify the smell and taste of tobacco products. This will include:

  • Menthol cigarettes
  • Skinny cigarettes
  • Flavoured tobacco
  • Flavoured rolling papers
  • Flavoured filters or capsules

With almost 1.5bn fewer cigarettes smoked each year in England since 2011, this is part of a range of ambitious plans to create a smoke-free nation by 2030.

1920 – 2020 | The rise and fall of the tobacco industry

In the last 100 years, the tobacco industry has gone through an extraordinary transformation. The almost unbelievable days of athletes, babies and even Santa Claus promoting popular cigarette brands in the roaring ‘20s starkly contrast with the 2007 ban on smoking in all enclosed work spaces, the removal of tobacco products from retail displays in 2012 and strict plain packaging rules introduced in 2016.

How many people smoke in the UK?

In Britain, around 7.2 million people smoke cigarettes, which is about 14.7% of the population aged 18 and above. Steadily declining year on year, the days of denying the links between smoking and lung cancer and nicotine and addiction are well and truly behind us.

Delving deeper, official smoking statistics show us that

  • 16.5% of men smoke compared with 13% of women
  • Those aged 25 to 34 years have the highest proportion of current smokers (19.2%)
  • Since 2011, the largest reduction in smoking prevalence has been amongst 18-24 year olds; 25.7% in 2011 compared with 16.8% in 2018
  • Smoking costs the NHS £2.5 billion a year in England alone
  • 6.3% of people said they use e-cigarettes; approx. 3.2 million adults
  • 15% of menthol smokers say they will use the ban as an opportunity to quit smoking.

With some pro-smoking groups criticising the May 20th deadline as a “nanny state mentality”, it’s clear to see that the rise of the health-conscious consumer continues to redefine British lifestyle markets. Although, it’s also interesting to note that market value of the tobacco industry in the UK has remained stable in recent years – valued at 21.1 billion euros in 2015 and increasing by 3% in 2019, with further growth projected in 2020. So, what can we expect in the next 10 years?…


E-cigarettes are designed to look and feel like a real cigarette, but they are very different – eliminating 2 of the most damaging elements found in cigarette smoke; tar and carbon monoxide. Running on a small lithium-ion battery, they allow users to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke. The UK e-cigarette market is forecast to reach $6.5bn by 2024, with Imperial Brands plc, British American Tobacco plc, Japan Tobacco Inc., and Philip Morris International Inc, all leading players in the ever-growing e-cigarette market.

Vape Mods

Similar to e-cigarettes, Vape Mods feature larger rechargeable battery-operated devices that vaporise substances for inhalation. Known for their high vapour production, Mods typically have a much higher power range than a standard e-cigarette and tend to include certain advanced features, such as variable voltage, wattage and temperature settings. Growing in popularity day by day, 69 new vape stores opened on British high streets in the first half of 2019 alone!

Tobacco vs E-cigs – Why have some countries banned vaping?

The vaping industry isn’t without its own controversy, with over 20 countries throughout South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia banning the sale and possession of e-cigarette products. Referring to e-cigarettes as ‘gateway’ drugs, many of these countries believe that the various flavourings are responsible for luring children into vaping. The fact that not much is known about the long-term consequences of this increasingly popular habit is also deeply unsettling to many.

Firmly establishing themselves as the ‘healthier’ alternative to smoking, it’s important to remember that vaping still has a negative impact on the heart and lungs. It is also regularly argued that smokers may well contribute more in tax than they take, but because habits vary from smoker to smoker it isn’t a simple equation. That said, it’s clear that e-cigarettes and vapes carry a fraction of the risk attributed to cigarettes.

New innovations to help people quit smoking

New innovations for almost every aspect of health and wellbeing are constantly being developed, but the same can’t be said to help people quit smoking. Patches and inhalers are not for everyone, so what next?…

Pivot is the first app designed to help consumers quit smoking, approved by the FDA in 2017. It claims to use exciting new technologies, human coaching and behavioural sciences that turn quitting smoking into an opportunity, rather than an obligation. Helping individuals and businesses, it includes a proactive Bluetooth-enabled Pivot Breath Sensor that measures carbon monoxide (CO) in your breath.

So, will tech change the way we tackle smoking as a nation? It’s certainly an interesting idea.

With Bristol tipped to be the first British city to become ‘smoke-free’ as soon as 2024, closely followed by Wokingham and York by 2026, the delivery of a tobacco-free generation in the next decade looks promising.

Related to this topic:

South West Businesses would back employees to go ‘Smoke-free’

Entrepreneur who started vaping business at 16 makes his first million