UK eCigarette Industry: Is it at a Critical Point?

The following is a guest post by Paul Ashton. Opinions in all guest posts belong solely to the author.

UK Parliament

We are now well into the year of 2013 and the UK has just settled down from the manic rush of New Year’s Resolutions. As you can expect soon after January 1st there is a huge spike in gym memberships as people flurry to accomplish the top 2 News Year’s Resolutions which are to lose weight and get fit. There is another Resolution that year on year is always at the top of the list and was especially popular and unique in 2013 and that is to quit smoking.

Quitting smoking is always an obvious resolution for a lot of people and throughout the years there is always a sales spike of nicotine supplement products in January such as gum, patches etc. However, the sales trends are very different this year because of one product and judging by the website this article is on you can probably guess that it is the “electronic cigarette”.

The Electronic Cigarette has really taken the market by storm and close to a million people in the UK alone is using these devices. From face value they look fantastic and provide the person with practically all the benefits of smoking but with the need of combustion i.e. lighting the cigarette and breathing in smoke.

Anybody that has shown a remote amount of interest with the electronic cigarette industry will know that currently it is under a lot of scrutiny in the UK as they become more popular. The main issue is the fact that there simply are no regulations on the products at the moment until they have been fully tested by the MHRA.

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Now I am not going to repeat what a lot of people already know on this site about how they do in fact still contain harmful chemicals but nowhere near the levels of harmful, carconagenic chemicals that are contained in regular cigarettes. What I want to do is try to open people eyes slightly to what the UK government is currently going through and how if some of the smaller e liquid vendors in the UK are not careful they could cause serious issues to the industry.

UK MoneyFirstly I will look at it from a government perspective. At first glance they look like a dream product but looking at it from a profitability point of view it is very different. At a very rough estimate, the UK treasury makes around £10.9 billion per year from tobacco with a loss of around £7 billion in NHS related illnesses. Overall it would seem that smoking cigarettes is profitable to the UK and add to the fact that it is believed that smokers in fact reduce the average amount of years people require NHS care at an older age they may in fact save further money.

Now can you imagine if a new product came in that could in fact replace every single cigarette, couldn’t be taxed in the same fashion and was completely unknown as to what costs it could cause on the NHS? I am no expert in these matters but I can imagine the UK government are thinking very carefully about how to regulate electronic cigarette products.

The second item I wanted to bring to light is actually because of the lack of regulations in the e cigarette industry. This isn’t so much an issue with the larger brand ecigs themselves but the smaller time hobbyist E Liquid vendors.

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Now before I go any further I want to explain that I have mixed my own liquid myself and I love creating my own flavours. This is just my view point of the dangers of the industry. There are many small time E Liquid Vendors that are mixing their own E Liquid in domestic homes. As much as I love that this had created a community of hobbyists. This has also let people start small business selling the custom mixes online to other members of the community.

Because these products are not regulated yet there is a large danger of someone mixing the incorrect ratio in the e liquid. If too much nicotine is mixed into the product it could be life threatening and if one of these accidents happened there would be enough media attention to give a very bad name onto the entire industry and put it at risk of being taken seriously as a genuine nicotine supplement by law.

So as it stands the electronic cigarette product do stand a good chance of becoming a well-accepted alternative to smoking cigarettes by I fully anticipate things to change. I expect the way they are being taxed to be altered and a system will be put into place where you will need a strict license to create and sell any kind of E Liquid. This will stop smaller vendors from selling unregulated mixes.

This is purely my opinion in the industry and I am open to debate on this topic as it could go in so many ways. The only thing I hope is that E Cigarettes do not get banned completely as they are a very satisfying product and have helped me move away from smoking regular cigarettes.

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Paul Ashton

Neat Cigs