In terms of absolute numbers, cigarette smoking continues its longterm decline but tobacco, vaping and smokers’ accessories continue to be major traffic builders and profit generators for cash & carries, wholesalers and the retailers they serve.
With more smokers looking for alternatives to cigarettes, vaping continues to surge, says Matthew Moden, Director of UK vape suppliers Liberty Flights, in our exclusive interview in this issue. The UK vaping market is still very young and is forecast to grow to a £4bn plus category by 2021.
On the international stage Fontem Ventures, owner of the evapour brand blu and part of Imperial Brands, has been calling on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to recognise the growing evidence that vaping can make a significant contribution to tobacco harm reduction. Some health bodies have concluded vaping could be 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes but so far the WHO hasn’t recognised vaping’s potential.
Looking at the most recent available zONS figures, in 2015, just 17.2% of UK adults smoked, down from 20.1% in 2010. And of all previous smokers 56.7% had quit, the highest proportion of quitters since 1974. Average consumption among smokers has reduced to 11.3 cigarettes each day, the lowest since 1974. Just the same, smuggling tobacco is still extremely profitable and tobacco fraudsters cost the UK around £2.5 billion a year in lost taxes, which should fund public services.
Over the years the ban on smoking in public, changes in how they are sold in retail and laws about packaging has taken its toll on sales of factory-made cigarettes, but not stubbed them out altogether. Imperial Tobacco has recently enhanced its JPS factory made cigarettes range in both King Size and Superkings 20s.
Even though smokers wanting to do so in public are now driven outdoors, more young people, particularly women, are increasingly rolling their own, and manufacturers are targeting them with stylish new products. Imperial’s Gold Leaf Ice Pack follows the success of the Gold Leaf 30g Handy Pack and features mentholated tips.
Finally, NPD and increased focus on merchandising is driving growth in the UK tobacco accessories market, says Gavin Anderson, General Sales Manager at Republic Technologies. Republic have recognised the need for greater choice with NPD that taps into consumer trends, including Swan Ultra Slim, the thinnest ever Swan filter; Swan ‘Eco’filters, the most environmentally friendly Swan product ever; Swan Kingsize Cigarette Tubes, and OCB Virgin Slim & Tips with a less refined paper and a softer smoke. Republic has also relaunched some of Britain’s bestknown match brands, including Swan Vestas, Cooks and Ship.