What is the trend in the e-cigarette market

The trend towards e-cigarettes continues

DORTMUND. The demand for e-cigarettes has risen significantly again. Sales of tobacco-free products rose by 38 percent last year to an estimated 580 million euros, the Association of the e-cigarette trade announced at the Intertabac trade fair in Dortmund.

This means that the value has more than doubled within two years - in 2015 it was 270 million (2016: 420 million). "It's going up steeply," said the association's managing director, Dac Sprengel. More and more smokers switched to e-vaporizers. An economic threat to tobacco manufacturers? Jan Mücke, Sprengel's counterpart at the German Cigarette Association, shakes his head.

On the one hand, tobacco companies are now also selling the electrical alternative. The evaporators are still a niche. By comparison, sales in 2017 with normal cigarettes and other tobacco products were just under 26 billion euros, almost five times as high as business with electrical products. "The classic tobacco cigarette will be around for a very long time," said Mücke.

E-cigarette lobbyist Sprengel expects continued high growth; in 2018, sales of e-cigarettes will probably be between 700 and 900 million euros. Politicians should actively support e-cigarettes in order to increase their distribution more, he believes. The lobbyist is convinced that this could reduce the number of cancer cases.

Less harmful but addicting?

According to his association, tobacco-free e-cigarettes are "at least 95 percent less harmful" than normal cigarettes. Scientists view such statements with skepticism. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) confirms that the e-vaporizers are "probably significantly less harmful than conventional cigarettes". However, it is feared that e-cigarettes will reduce the motivation to quit smoking and thus to end an addiction.

It is also unclear how many smokers use e-cigarettes to switch - and how many just use them in addition. In addition, there are also young people among the consumers: The World Health Organization (WHO) has heard that e-cigarettes are a potential gateway for nicotine addiction.

While the e-cigarette industry is booming, the conventional market has remained stable in the end - in the first half of 2018, according to the German Cigarette Association, manufacturers taxed 37.3 billion such smoldering sticks and thus roughly as many as in the previous year - the increase is around 0.3 percent. As a result of price increases, sales rose by almost four percent to 10.813 billion euros.

The proceeds for fine cut - that is, loose tobacco you can roll yourself - remained about the same (1.8 billion euros). Roughly speaking, about two-thirds of sales of tobacco products go to the state as taxes.

The German Cigarette Association expects a shrinking cigarette market in the future. In the past 15 years, the annual number of cigarettes in Germany has more than halved from 150 billion, said association representative Mücke. One of the reasons is that consumers are more health-conscious. The association estimates that a slight downward trend of one to two percent will continue in the future. (dpa)