In what felt like the blink of an eye, 2022 has come and gone, and what a year it has been for the vaping industry!
2022 bought forward some significant happenings in the vaping world, some of which were good, and some of which were bad and it’s been a pretty wild ride to say the least. The biggest statistic that came out of 2022, is the number of adult users of E-Cigarettes has increased to the highest it’s ever been, with over 4 million users now using E-Cigarettes! Fantastic news to read when this was released mid way through 2022. And to go in hand with this, the number of adult smokers has reached the lowest number it’s ever been as well!
In this article, I’m going to summarise the happenings of 2022, giving detail of everything significant that has happened across the globe, as well as looking at what could be in store for the vaping industry in the year ahead!
Disposable Vapes rule the roost in the Vaping game
I couldn’t not start a year in review article with anything else than the hottest topic within the vaping industry for the entirety of last year…Disposable Vapes.
2022 really was the year of the Disposable. ElfBar and Geekbar remained the top selling brands of Disposable vapes, but with this popularity saw these brands come under fire and scrutiny the most from sceptics and anti-vaping campaigners. Geekbar have acknowledged the criticism and concerns about Disposable vapes, and have made positive steps forward in the right direction to help combat the ever increasing numbers of underage users of vaping devices, by creating a website off their own back called VapeWatch which gives proven evidence and advice about vaping and disposables more specifically which is aimed at parents as well as schools and it is a great source for information which Geekbar have not used as an advertising platform. I strongly suggest visiting VapeWatch if you have any concerns about Vaping.
The Disposable market also saw numerous other manufacturers entering the market by creating their own versions of Disposable Vapes with IVG, Lost Mary and SMOK joining the list of popular manufacturers selling their own Disposable Vape devices. But with more manufacturers jumping on board, this opened up the door to more counterfeit disposable vapes being made and flooding the market to unknowing customers.
There have been several news stories across the year about Trading Standards Agencies across the UK raiding shops, seizing tens of thousands of pounds worth of illicit, counterfeit disposable vapes, which boasted more than 2ml of vape juice being contained inside, or higher than 20mg nicotine content, both of which are the legal limit as per the TPD regulations. Trading Standards Agencies also carried out several “secret shopper” stings on unsuspecting shops, where they used a volunteer who was under the legal age of 18 to attempt to purchase a disposable vape, and an alarming amount of them were successful in carrying this out. There was somewhat of a trend on the types of shop that were raided as well as tested by the TSA’s such as Mobile phone shops, convenience stores, or discount stores being the main offenders, all of which are obviously not reputable, reliable vape shops.
There will be more discussion about Disposable Vapes a little further down in this article, and the impact they’re having globally, both to consumers as well as the environment.
The Khan Report is released
In June 2022, an independent report by Dr Javen Khan OBE was released which looked in to the then current state of affairs that surrounded England becoming Smoke Free by 2030, an objective that was set out by the Government in 2019. This report by Dr Khan was commissioned by the Government themselves, and the report made for some very interesting reading.
Within the report, Dr Khan looked at where the country was at the time in regards to smoking prevalence, as well as the number of E-Cigarette users, and whether or not this goal of Smoke Free 2030 would be an achievable one, and with his own research he concluded that England would miss the mark of being Smoke Free by 2030 by quite some way unless some serious intervention and action was taken by the government to meet their goals. Dr Khan proved that it would be 2037 at the earliest that this goal would be achieved, and even further along for more deprived areas who seem to be left to their own devices with no support or help to the people wanting to quit smoking.
Dr Khan made several “critical” recommendations on what should be done by the government to help this goal become achievable sooner rather than later. The primary focus being £125 million cash injection every year to the NHS and localised Stop Smoking services to help improve and increase the resources that are available to people who want to quit smoking. More promotion of vaping by the powers that be, especially with more evidence and proof coming out that vaping is a considerably safer alternative to smoking. And improvements being made within the NHS after they receive the extra funding to help people quit smoking by offering advice, options to quit and effectively bring down the total cost that smoking has on the NHS which sits at an eye watering £2.4 billion every single years.
This report from Dr Khan was met with widespread praise from various pro vaping campaigners, and charities across the globe, with them deeming Dr Khan had hit the proverbial nail on the head with this report. But what is a shame is it seems that the government, who wanted this report done, has done nothing with it other than merely acknowledging it and admitting “they are taking it into consideration” every time it’s mentioned to them in Parliament. I’m hoping that a more pro active approach from the Government in 2023 will become a reality than just a pipe dream.
The UK’s first “Voucher to Vape” scheme is trialled and is a success
In the summer of 2022, a report from Dr Caitlin Notely from the UEA was released looking in detail at something was trialled by a Stop Smoking service based in Norfolk that had previously been unseen by any other, and the trial saw some fantastic results.
SmokeFree Norfolk teamed up with the University of East Anglia (UEA) to trial a scheme in a rural part of Norfolk which would see GPs handing vouchers to the value of £25 to patients who wanted to quit smoking and try vaping as their method of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. This also entitled the receivers of the voucher to to get expert advice from the vape shop staff to ensure they are on the right track to getting started on their vaping journey.
668 people took part in the scheme, which was trialled between December 2019 and July 2021, and of these who took part, 340 redeemed a voucher for a vaping starter kit and 143 of these reported quitting smoking within the first four weeks of using an e-cigarette and hadn’t gone back to smoking.
This was such a brilliant thing to see not only trialled, but to be a success as well. This was introduced to try and give people who live in a more deprived area of the country the opportunity to be able to get themselves a vape which they may previously have not been able to afford. The reception from GPs was very positive as this voucher was considerably cheaper than prescribing other forms of Nicotine Replacement Therapy, thus saving the NHS money. This scheme has since been adopted and trialled by others across the country and I believe we could see more taking this approach in 2023.
Misinformation about Vaping continues to be spread
The year-on-year trend continued in 2022 with misinformation about Vaping being spread in the media, across various anti vaping website, and even on UK national television!
In July 2022, Dr Sara Kayat who is the resident Doctor on This Morning, a British TV show that is aired Monday to Friday appeared on the show and made the statement that “Vaping can cause Popcorn Lung” and millions of E-Cigarette users are putting themselves at risk and possible exposure of this disease.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw that a Doctor had appeared on national UK Television and made such a loose and untrue comment on Vaping. Popcorn Lung was a thing back in 2016, which was found to be caused by the sweetener Diacetyl. This sweetener was banned from being included in vape juice when the TPD laws passed back in 2016, therefore vaping does not cause Popcorn Lung! Cancer Research almost immediately waded in on this comment and wrote to the General Medical Council to complain about such false claims being made by a registered Doctor. The complaint was acknowledged and kind of brushed under the carpet as expected, but good for Cancer Research standing up for vaping and wanting this misinformation to stop.
Other misinformation studies were released and soon squashed by experts who are actually in the know. There were a few reports, news articles as well as videos appearing on social media about vaping being bad for people’s oral health. However, these reports and studies were put to a team of expert dentists, both of which said there is no concrete evidence, and what evidence is present is very minimal and clinical that proves that vaping can cause tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health problems that is has previously been blamed for.
Reports were also released that second hand vapour is harmful to people to ingest, but this again as squashed by experts with reference to the previously released article by Cancer Research UK that shows there is no evidence that proves second hand vapour can be harmful to others.
I’m expecting more misinformation to be birthed in 2023, but I’m also hopeful that anything published will soon be squashed down as it has been in 2022.
Vape bans across the world cause problems
2022 saw quite a few countries take a harsh stance on vaping by introducing bans on specific vaping related products, and there has been problems that followed the news of these bans.
The most notable ban comes from China, which introduced a complete vape juice flavour ban effective from October 1st 2022 in the country. This was an ongoing case which stems back from March 2021, which is when the Chinese government announced that E-Cigarettes would fall in line with the same regulations as that of tobacco cigarettes. And further into the year, more regulations were added that would see the banning of all non tobacco flavoured vape juices being sold in the country of China.
The ruling came into effect in October as I mentioned, and the country has seen a decline in the number of vaping manufacturers and retailers, due to them needing to be registered and have a licence to trade in the country, with a lot of them not agreeing to these harsh new rulings and opting to back out of the vaping industry completely.
Coming across the water to somewhere closer to home, and the Netherlands has seen it’s fair share of controversy and uproar with their proposed introduction of a flavour ban as well.
The country announced that it would be introducing a flavoured vape juice ban, and the government complied a list of “authorised” ingredients that can only be used in vape juice that was due to come into effect from January 1st 2023. These ingredients were proven to only be able to make a tobacco flavoured vape juice, and this caused uproar amongst vapers in the country as well as pro vaping campaigners, as they looked at this as a massive step back for vapers who have quit tobacco by using vape juice flavours other than tobacco.
But at the very last minute near enough in December, a further postponement was announced to these rulings coming into effect. With the date of the ban coming into effect from July 1st 2023, and the new addition of retailers being allowed to sell through any existing stock until October 1st 2023, which was not previously included in the previous regulation announcement. So, a bit of leniency from the Dutch government on this matter, but still something I don’t agree with.
Action on Smoking and Health produce some of the most informative reports ever published
If you’ve read any of my previous articles regarding facts and figures about Vaping in the UK, you would have seen me referencing back to reports carried out by Action and Smoking and Health. They are a charity based organisation made up of a team of experts from the Royal College of London and the work they do is second to none, and I highly rate and recommend them to anyone.
The standout article for me was printed in July 2022, which was a factsheet looking into the use of E-Cigarettes by young people in Great Britain. This study looked at the use and behaviours towards E-Cigarettes by 11-17 year olds. The stand out statistic was that the favoured e-cigarette by this age group was the Disposable vape, which saw popularity increase from 7% in 2021, to 52% in 2022, a staggering increase over nearly 8 fold!
They also produced a study looking into the amount of adults using e-cigarettes in the UK, as well as asking retailers their views on potential new tobacco laws being introduced in 2023 to help combat the rate of adult smokers in the UK. As mentioned, their work is superb, and I look forward to seeing what else they produced in the year to come!
Elfbar gets banned from TikTok for their underhanded advertising tactics, gut the problems still prevail on social media.
A significant step forward on the clamping down of promotion of vaping products on social media took place in the mid part of 2022, with TikTok making the move to ban Elfbar from the social media platform after their under handed advertising methods were used.
Influencers on TikTok with large numbers of followers received a “gifted” box of Elfbar disposable vapes direct from them, which they made videos thanking Elfbar for, and subliminally advertising their products to their audiences, which probably contained large numbers of under 18 years old, as it was proven that TikTok is used predominantly by 11–17-year-olds.
TikTok stepped in and banned the official ElfBar account and declared that they would continue to vigorously police the platform for any promotion of tobacco or e-cigarette products. However, the problems are still persisting with some accounts flouting the rules and advertising and promoting the sales of disposable vapes, promising discreet packaging and in as many words encouraging underage users to buy them, which is not helping the problems that the vaping industry is facing with underage users and vaping!
2022 has certainly been an interesting year for vaping, both in the UK as well as across the globe.
The fact that the number of adult users of E-Cigarettes being the highest it’s ever been is a really positive thing to see, and I think the number will only continue to grow from here instead of decreasing. Instead the decreasing will come with the amount of adult smokers that are currently present in the UK.
I still believe that Disposable Vapes will continue to be popular this year, albeit some regulations on them may be introduced to aid in combatting the problems that are occurring with the number of underage users being at mildly alarming heights.
I look forward to seeing to what 2023 brings for the vaping industry, and I’ll continue to keep you all updated with the goings on with my future articles!