Many state-funded advertising campaigns warned the public about the dangers of smoking, whilst many governments have drawn up rules designed to discourage young people from taking it up. The UK’s outdoor smoking ban celebrated its’ 10-year anniversary this year.
As a result, the number of people taking up smoking is decreasing. Numbers released earlier this year by the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that just 17.2% of adults smoked in 2015, down from just over 20% in 2015. A sizeable number of those deciding to kick smoking for good have taken to a popular alternative – vaping.
Up in Smoke?
The demand for electronic cigarettes has surged in many parts of the world, not least the UK. As a healthier alternative to tobacco, many people looking to give up smoking see them as a useful gadget to make an often difficult process easier. Manufacturers such as VIP produce cartridges for e-cigs that emit water-based vapours rather than actual tobacco smoke.
For tobacco companies, a series of huge challenges lie ahead. The growing popularity of vaping correlates directly with the decline in numbers of people smoking. Laws such as the public smoking ban have hit hard too. To counter this trend, even the biggest firms in the industry have a massive obstacle to overcome if they are to remain in business.
Unless they look to alternative sources of income or develop new products, there is a chance that the industry could suffer. Some companies have, however, adapted to changing attitudes and sales figures by cutting costs. Philip Morris, owner of some of the biggest tobacco brands, made Q3 profits of $1.97 billion, despite underperforming.
Aside from cutting costs and possibly increasing the price of cigarettes, tobacco companies may need to look at developing new products to compete with vaping equipment. They may involve reinventing cigarettes to reduce the harmful effects that they can cause, developing their own e-cigarettes or perhaps branching out into a completely different area.
Tobacco brands are not in a state of irreversible decline; some brands’ stock has outperformed the wider stock market. With a little innovation and continuing confidence from investors in their stocks, the industry as a whole may have a future to speak of. Innovation and recognition of the declining numbers of people smoking tobacco are vital to their future success.