Vaping in Europe, a market on the rise. The results of the Eurispes study

As part of its efforts to counter tobacco-related diseases, Eurispes conducted an Europe-wide study on the role of new devices in overcoming vaping, which is the main cause of tobacco-related diseases. The study conducted by Eurispes focuses on the consumption of e-cigarettes in the EU, analysing the different public health orientations and exploring the employment and supply chain aspects of the vaping industry in 14 European countries. The results reveal a varied scenario, characterised by different levels of market development.

Following a quantitative descriptive approach, the data were obtained from international and national primary studies and empirical research with a questionnaire in the second half of 2021. An open question structure was used for the questionnaire, distributed via e-mail among national vaping trade associations, producers and retailers. It was possible to collect data for the following markets: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK, analysed with descriptive statistics.

Regarding the prevalence of smokers and users of e-cigarettes, the Eurispes study reveals that the number of e-cigarette users (so-called vapers) is rather heterogeneous in the examined markets. While the UK shows a quite significant number of vapers, amounting to 6%, in countries such as Romania, vaping is less widespread, accounting for 1.5% of users. The data indicate the presence of 6 million vapers in 11 of the 14 markets observed within the study.

The highest shares of vapers in the monitored markets are found in Lithuania, with a share of 11.5% among the adult population, Ireland and the UK, as mentioned above, with a share of vapers of 6.7% each, followed by France, with a vaping prevalence of 5.8% among the population aged 18 years and over. Regular use of e-cigarettes is less common in Latvia, Poland, Romania and Spain, where the number of vapers remains between 1.1 % and 1.9 %.

In 2020, the total adult population of the countries covered by the study exceeded 335 million, with 82 million smokers (24% of the adult population), more than 656,000 annual deaths from tobacco-related diseases and a total cost to national health systems of more than €99 billion per year.

Latvia, Greece and Romania have the highest smoking rates, with over a third of smokers in the adult population. The lowest smoking rates are in Denmark with 16% and the UK, a leader in smoking prevention with 12.8% of the adult population. The number of vapers shows a slight negative correlation with the number of smokers, indicating that more widespread use of e-cigarettes could correspond to a decrease in smoking rates.

By analysing distribution channels and workforce data, it was possible to identify 1,600 e-cigarette companies in 11 surveyed countries. Almost all of them are small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, almost 600 companies are active in import and distribution. In the retail sector, there are more than 12,000 specialised shops, but e-cigarette products are also available in almost 150,000 general shops. The shares of online shops vary from 10% in Germany to 40% in the Netherlands and Ireland. Northern and Western European countries tend to show a higher level of e-cigarette use, with higher market volumes and a higher number of employees in the sector.

It is particularly relevant to emphasise the volume of the workforce directly employed by the e-cigarette industry in the countries surveyed, amounting to 77,000.

The authorities in many EU countries still show a substantial closure towards the use of e-cigarettes as a means of risk reduction, often applying the same taxes to these new devices as to other traditional combustion products. In contrast, other countries, such as the UK, show a more open approach to these new devices, with a promising return in terms of public health.

The Eurispes research shows that while the vaping market is on the rise in Europe, the same regulations on combustion tobacco products are often applied to vaping products, making it impossible to inform users about the health risk reduction potential of these new devices.

The research can be viewed at the following link:

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