Number of independent vape shops across UK jumps again

The country now has a total of 3,573 specialist vape shops, according to the Local Data Company.

Josie Clarke
Tuesday 02 January 2024 10:07 GMT
(PA) (PA Wire)

The number of independent vape shops has jumped again across the UK over the last year, amid plans to create a “smoke-free generation” by limiting their sale to children.

Another 233 independent vape shops opened in 2023, a significant jump from 2022’s next increase of 61 and 2021’s net fall of 23, according to the Local Data Company (LDC), which carries out detailed surveys of all retail areas.

The country now has a total of 3,573 specialist vape shops, according to the LDC.

The figures show that bricks and mortar vape stores are in robust health after a pandemic-related shift of sales to online retailers.

The figures for specialist vape stores do not include the vast majority of convenience stores, Post Office shops, newsagents and corner shops that also stock the devices and related paraphernalia.

Vaping products saw growth in value sales in Britain of £897.4 million this year, according to data published in December by market researcher NIQ and trade magazine The Grocer.

The Lost Mary brand, owned by Chinese vaping firm Heaven Gifts, was the UK’s fastest growing product with sales up by £310.6 million on the previous year, the data showed.

NIQ said vaping products also saw growth on a volume basis, or the amount people bought – while sales of cigarettes and cigars and loose tobacco were down £849.1 million and £393.1 million respectively on a sales value basis.

Experts suggest that the e-cigarette industry has been one of few direct beneficiaries of the cost-of-living crisis, with an average packet of 20 cigarettes now costing £14.57 compared with around £5 for roughly the same number of puffs from a disposable vape and half that for the equivalent amount of nicotine in a refillable device.

However, the Government has set out plans to introduce tighter restrictions on vaping to protect children as well as phasing out the sale of cigarettes.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will “create a smoke-free generation by restricting the sale of tobacco … and restricting the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children”.

This will effectively raise the age of tobacco sale by one year every year, the Government said, to prevent this and future generations from ever taking up smoking in the first place.

The King’s Speech also promised a “further crackdown on youth vaping” with a consultation currently ongoing on how to protect children while encouraging adult smokers to use vapes to quit.

The consultation is asking people for their views on whether disposable vapes – which are known to be the first choice among children – should be banned or restricted and whether more needs to be done on pricing.

Health campaigners have repeatedly said that offering e-cigarettes for “pocket money prices” encourages children to take up vaping.

Other proposals include restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes so they are no longer targeted at children, putting vapes out of the sight of children and regulating vape packaging and how products are presented.

Other suggestions in the consultation include on-the-spot fines for retailers who sell to underage children and greater measures to tackle online sales.

One in five children has now tried vaping despite it being illegal for under-18s, while the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past three years.

According to Government documents, smoking costs the UK around £17 billion a year, including £10 billion every year through lost productivity alone.

This cost dwarfs the £10 billion raised through taxes on tobacco products, its figures show.

By creating a smoke-free generation, smoking rates among those aged 14 to 30 could be near zero by 2040, calculations predict.

UK Vaping Industry Association director general John Dunne said: “The independent specialist vape shop in the UK plays an important role in advising smokers how best to make the switch to vapes, and ultimately how to continue their journey to zero nicotine.

“Vapes are proven to be the most effective way for smokers to quit, helping around 50,000 more smokers beat their habit every year and a rise in the number of specialist vape shops reflects a growing demand from smokers wanting to quit a habit that kills over 200 people every day in the UK alone.”

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