How Important is the Price of e-Liquid for Stopping Smoking?
Wed 15 Nov 2017
In much of the western world, cigarette sales are strongly regulated and also heavily taxed. It is quite staggering how cheaply cigarettes are actually manufactured for, and yet despite the price, how little profit shops make from their sale, especially in the UK.
A few years ago I worked at sea. A sleeve of 200 Marlboro Red sold in international waters for $9.00 US dollars, which was around £6.00 UK sterling at the time. The equivalent cost back home was approximately £175.00. Unbelievably, in a few countries I visited in northern Africa, you could buy them for even less, although the harshness on the throat was enough to realise that they weren’t quite the real deal! Needless to say though, with the cost of a packet not exceeding 15 minutes average wage, the majority of people smoked, and despite living in what could be considered borderline 3rd world, were quite content to smoke to their heart’s content.
Back in the UK, with many people still feeling more than a pinch from the recession almost a decade on, and employers still largely able to supress wages, it has raised a question as to whether or not the price point of cigarettes is the largest contributory factor to smokers switching to vaping, larger than that of health benefits and of social pressure.
For comparison to the 15 minutes average wage per pack in northern Africa, in the UK an average packet price is higher than an hour on the minimum wage.
I know of a few vapers who still like to have the odd smoke, and asked me if I could pick them some cigarettes up from Corfu when I visited in the Spring because of the price. The price of the smokes were significantly less than in the UK, but also cost more than vaping. What I noticed there, in contrast to much of northern Europe and sections of North America (where the cost and taxation of cigarettes is at its height also) was that I couldn’t find any e-liquid in a shop. Admittedly, I didn’t try too hard to find it, I took some delicious Jacques Le Mon by T Juice and my favourite flavour Anarchy from the Punk Juice range, but considering the health phenomenon spreading like wildfire in neighbouring countries, I was quite surprised. The world is a market, yet along with Corfu and Greece, certainly not 3rd world, you cannot easily get your hands on e-liquids, nor see anyone really, vaping. This is the same around much of the world outside of countries where cigarettes are heavily taxed.
Perhaps cigarettes have to get to a particular price point to encourage smokers to switch to vaping. We all heard the comments over the years, “When a pack of 20 hits £5.00 I’m quitting”, “When it hits £6.00”… and so forth.
Tobacco was always available in pouch form for rolling, and this became very popular again during the years of large tax increases. The sales of pouch tobacco against those of pre-rolled cigarettes would be a good indication of the importance of price point when it comes to the decision of what to smoke or vape. Hypothetically, if vaping were to be as expensive as smoking pre-rolled smokes, would vapers turn to pouch tobacco? Would it have even been popular enough to become a verb?
In the vaping world, DIY vaping could be considered the successor to rollies.
DIY vaping has taken off due to many reasons, variety, self-trust, a hobby, but most of all…price.
Written by our new content creator Alex Blatherwick
Further reading: Why are Supermarkets So Behind the Times with E Cigarettes?