It took hundreds of years for the tobacco industry to grow and evolve – but for the vaping industry, it’s an entirely different story. The vaping industry isn’t like a traditional industry. It’s more like a tech industry in that it’s continued to evolve and change extremely rapidly during the slightly over a decade in which it’s existed. Many vaping products from a decade ago would be almost unrecognisable today.
In other words, if you can expect anything from the UK vaping industry over the next several years, it’s that the industry will continue to change rapidly. Although the UK vaping industry probably won’t look extremely different on the surface, it’s likely that the most popular products on the market will be completely different from what people are buying today.
So, what are some of the likely ways in which the UK vaping industry will change over the next several years? Based on what we’ve seen in recent years, here’s what we’re expecting.
Refillable Vapes Will Surge in Popularity
Over the last few years, disposable vapes have been instrumental in introducing millions of people in the UK to vaping. That’s a great thing for the health of those millions of now-former smokers, and it’s been great for the growth of the industry as well. One common thread among people who switch to vaping, though, is that many of them eventually decide that they’d like to use the e-liquid flavours of their choice instead of using pre-filled devices with limited flavour selections. Very soon, many UK vapers are going to reach that point at around the same time.
Very soon, refillable vapes such as pod kits will experience a resurgence in popularity as vapers across the UK switch from pre-filled devices to refillable ones. Given how popular refillable vapes are likely to become in the near future, it’s likely that the manufacturers of vaping devices are already working hard on the next generation of advanced devices. Coinciding with the mass switch from disposable vapes to refillable ones, you’ll probably see a completely new type of vaping device – or something with a great new feature that’s never been seen before – hit the market within the next year or two.
UK Vape Juice Makers will Expand Their Influence
Throughout most of the industry’s history, the United States was the biggest market for vaping products because that was the nation in which vaping first became popular. Because vaping was so popular in the US, many e-liquid companies formed there and quickly expanded their distribution networks. Many of the vape juice brands that you can find in the United Kingdom are actually made in the US.
Although the US industry flourished during the early years of vaping, things have changed there in recent years due to the implementation of extremely restrictive government regulations. The vaping regulations in the US are so restrictive, in fact, that it’s virtually impossible for any American company to release a new vape juice flavour. Since there’s essentially no way for an American e-liquid brand to grow except by acquiring another brand, we expect UK-based vape juice brands to grow greatly in worldwide influence over the next year or two thanks to a friendly and common-sense regulatory environment.
The UK is the world’s second biggest vaping market after the US, and many of the most popular e-liquid brands here have already secured deals to have their products distributed internationally. If any new flavour trend sweeps across the worldwide vaping industry over the next year or two, it’ll almost definitely come from a vape juice brand based in the UK. It’s also highly likely that one or two American e-liquid companies will move their operations here due to the much friendlier regulatory climate.
The Vaping Industry Will Experience a Recycling Revolution
According to a recent article published by The Guardian, around 1.3 million disposable vapes are discarded each week in the UK. That’s a truly enormous volume of lithium that’s potentially polluting landfills and contaminating groundwater. It’s also caused some emergencies in waste handling facilities because a damaged lithium-ion battery can cause a fire that’s virtually impossible to control. In addition to the pollution and potential danger caused by discarded disposable vapes, it’s also wasteful because the lithium in the batteries could be recovered and used for other things such as electric vehicles or more vaping devices.
The lithium in the batteries isn’t the only problem with the disposable vapes currently on the market. The other issue is the plastic that’s used to make the bodies of most disposable devices. Considering that the members of the UK vaping community collectively use 1.3 million disposable vapes per week, that’s an enormous amount of plastic. Most forms of plastic are difficult or impossible to recycle, whereas other materials – such as paper, glass and aluminium – can be recycled a virtually unlimited number of times with no loss in quality.
Given the fact that most vapers understand the harsh environmental realities of disposable vapes – not to mention the fact that there’s a potentially enormous financial incentive for fixing the problem – we think it’s highly likely that you’ll see multiple companies attempt to develop recyclable vapes over the next year. A vaping device with a body made from a material such as aluminium – and a detachable battery – would be ideal. With that design, it would be trivial for the end user to remove spent batteries and recycle them with other hazardous waste.
Disposable Vapes Will Be Regulated More Tightly
Although it’s likely that disposable vapes are already on track to decrease somewhat in popularity over the next couple of years as many of Britain’s new vapers graduate to refillable devices, it’s possible that government intervention will help to hasten this transition. The popularity of disposable vapes has caused concern among certain people. Some have said that the low prices of the devices – along with the fact that they often have bright colours and are available in sweet flavours – have created interest among teens who aren’t old enough to vape or smoke.
If teen vaping statistics show no improvement in the near future, it’s likely that the government will intervene. Some of the possible measures that are being considered include a plain packaging law and a new tax that would apply only to disposable vapes.
The UK Vaping Community Will Continue to Grow
The one prediction about which just about everyone should agree is that the UK vaping industry will continue to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future. The adult smoking rate in the UK has dropped dramatically over the past few years – and considering that the vaping rate has grown by roughly the same rate during that time, it’s safe to say that an enormous number of the people who have quit smoking successfully have done so by switching to vaping. As long as our public health system continues to promote vaping as a less risky alternative for those who can’t quit smoking by other means, it’s very reasonable to expect that vapers will outnumber smokers in the UK by the end of the decade.