The Evolution of the Vape Industry in the UK

In 2007 the UK introduced the smoking ban, which completely prohibited cigarette smoking indoors, beginning the evolution of the vape industry in the UK.

Just over a decade later the UK vape market has rocketed to be worth over £1 billion1.

Valued at $4.2 billion (£3.2 billion) in 2013, in just five years the global vape industry has grown into a $22.6 billion (£17.2 billion) market2. The vaping industry has become one of the fastest growing markets in the world, with increased health awareness around smoking and a dedicated global vape community the rise is set to continue.

We are going to explore the evolution of the vape industry, how they contribute to one of the fastest growing global markets, how vape compares to other influential industries and the impact of vape’s unprecedented growth.

A Brief History of E-Cigs

The idea of an electronic cigarette was first introduced as far back as 1927 by inventor Joseph Robinson however his concept remained largely unknown for decades.

In 1963 Herbert Gilbert created the first smokeless vaping device which he would go on to patent in 19654. Tobacco industries were not yet ready to admit smoking was harmful to health and Gilbert’s invention didn’t see the light of day.

It wasn’t until 2006 when Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik invented the modern vaping devices we know today, that they began to surface on the consumer market. Spurred on by his father’s death due to lung cancer and a smoker himself, he understood the difficulty of quitting and introduced vaping to the world.

e-cig vape pen closeup

In 2007 e-cigs made there way onto the American and UK markets. Since its introduction to the UK vaping has saved (ex)smokers more than £100 billion and is protecting people’s health on a grand scale5.   

Entrepreneurs Have Pushed the Vape Market Growth

The vape community are extremely passionate about their devices, flavours and vaping, national vaping conventions attract thousands of dedicated enthusiasts from all over the country.

Entrepreneurs have been remarkably astute and have observed the trends and patterns of vape enthusiasts, providing the shops, equipment and services which the community craves.

Independently run vape stores are bringing life back to dying high-streets across the country, with over 2,000 shops, accounting for 50% of vape sales6, in the UK alone.

Providing a direct alternative to one of the most influential industries in the world, vaping has been disrupting big tobacco companies and garnering their attention.

The Rapid Rise of Vape

The vape market has become one of fastest growing global markets, with increased health awareness, regulations and costs, traditional smoking is experiencing a decline.

Vape on the other hand is healthier, more cost-efficient, experiencing continued growth and is expected to be valued at $43 billion (£33 billion) by 20237.

In 2013 the global vaping community was 2.8 million, today the UK vaping community alone sits at 2.9 million8, with the global vaping community growing to 35 million9.

The growth of the vape market has been remarkable and it is not showing any signs of slowing down, with the UK vape market estimated to be worth over £4 billion by 202110.

Renewable energy, smartphones, cybersecurity and consumer drones are all major global industries the vape market is forecast to grow faster than over the next five years.

Our infographic below highlights this astounding growth of vape industries across Europe and the dizzying heights it is set to reach throughout the coming years.


Infographic explaining the rise of the vape industry

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Big Tobacco Companies are Paying Attention

A true testament to the impact the vaping industry is having is that big tobacco companies are investing huge amounts of resources to the development, production and sale of their own e-cigarettes.

Tobacco giants are interested in bottomline sales, as we can see from the infographic above they are declining. The mostly independently run vape industry is making waves in a nicotine market they have dominated since the beginning.

British American Tobacco (BAT) have become the first tobacco company to launch an e-cigarette onto the UK market11, as the decline in smoking forces them to look for alternatives.

BAT are not the only industry giants getting involved, Imperial Tobacco owns Blu which has a 15%12 share of the global vaping market  and Philip Morris acquired Nicocigs in 201413, a leading e-cigarette company in the UK.

Opinions on Vaping

Britain has accepted vaping and has seen the vaping community rise from 700,000 in 2012 to 2.9 million today14. A major reason for the widespread acceptance of vaping has been the major health benefits when compared to smoking traditional cigarettes.

Studies released by UK research has revealed that vaping is 95% less harmful than traditional smoking15, and it has become the most successful and popular smoking cessation method16.

With strong scientific evidence backing up the vape industry, public opinion in the UK has become favourable.

Closeup of man exhaling vape cloud smoke

With much larger clouds often exhaled than smokers, it was believed the harm was also much greater. It is now understand that vape products use the same ingredients found in asthma inhalers, food-grade flavourings and pharmaceutical-grade nicotine.


Vaping is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK.

Through a combination of hard-working small business owners and dedicated customers it has become a billion pound industry.

The health benefits have shaped a positive public opinion and acceptance of vaping in the UK. With regulatory bodies and health specialists overlooking the production and sale of vape products, millions of people are quitting smoking and turning to vape instead.

Big tobacco companies have been unable to ignore the vape industry, as it begins to cut into sales and provide a nicotine alternative that is popular and effective.

Big tobacco is essentially admitting their product is dangerous and are now investing time and resource in order to stay relevant in a nicotine market they once had complete control over.

The rise of vaping has brought life back to UK high-streets and opened up new business opportunities as dedicated consumers demand high-quality products and services.

Brands such as HUSKY have emerged as market leaders by providing consumers with the products and quality they desire. Discover more about HUSKY wholesale e-liquid bottles here

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