Recently there have been a number of articles and editorials regarding worrying statistics that only 2.6% of women aged 16-24 switch to vaping unlike the 8.9% of men.
As a 27 year old woman who has worked in the vaping industry for a number of years, in the digital marketing and social media side of the business, and also used vaping as a way to quit a 20 day a habit, I would like to throw my 2 cents into the debate.
If you go to the Office for National Statistics website (here), you will see that in 2017 3.1% (not 2.6%) of women aged 16-24 are current E-cigarette users, with 13% having been e-cigarette users in the past. There is no way of knowing this for certain, but coupled with the statistics on smokers in the UK in 2017 (here), the largest reduction in smoking prevalence, which stands at 17.8% is in the 16-24 category. It’s a semi-safe bet that these women have used vaping as a means to completely stop nicotine consumption in its entirety. It’s always important to remember that the statistics being quoted are from 2016 and more up to date statistics are currently available. It is also worth correlating these with current smoking statistics as most (but not all) people start vaping as a method of harm reduction from smoking. I believe we will see a declining trend with the younger demographic. To put it simply, not as many young people are taking up nicotine consumption, be it e-cigarette or analogue. This is because they are better educated against the health risks. This generation are also witness to the negative effects of smoking through older relatives now suffering with the consequences a long smoking habit – I quit smoking after seeing the effects on my father’s health.
There seems to be a current school of thought that women aren’t taking up vaping due to the complexity and style of most vaping devices. To quote the article that has sparked my response: “women haven’t been adopting vaping products in the UK. Perhaps due to their chunky appearance compared to a cigarette, their fiddly nature makes it more airfix than Audrey Hepburn.”
It’s part of my everyday job to look at demographics, trends and stereotypes to help me market products to the right people, so please take what I am about to say with a pinch of salt. I would not be so condescending as to say “women need something that’s small and pretty that’s easy to use, because we don’t want to confuse them?” That, at its core, is the message we are currently sending with this school of thought, it isn’t going to rectify the issue of young women smoking, but further segregate them if they believe that they will be condescended to in such a way if they were to approach vaping as a form of harm reduction.
I can understand the point about not wanting something big and bulky in your pocket, but that isn’t a female specific opinion. I know plenty of people, customers & friends who are male that don’t want something large and cumbersome, and do want a pen style vape for their ease and shape. That’s more of a personal style choice than a gender specific issue. Some people prefer a click and go non-variable voltage e-cigarette that does what it says on the tin. In the same vein I know plenty of women, myself included, who prefer the large two battery mod style of a vape. That’s why there is such a large variety of styles on the market, because it’s all down to personal preference, not gender.
The article talks of a recent sunscreen advert showing a young child with a tattoo on her face, to simulate the permanence of sun damage. It then goes on to talk about using the comparison of a haggard old supermodel, who smokes 20 a day, standing next to the wonderful Cara Delevingne vaping away with youthful looking skin. Using this as a marketing tactic to help women to see the cosmetic health benefits of vaping is always going to work, as the beauty industry has shown for a very long time, preying on female insecurities pays the bills. So from that angle I totally get where they are coming from. Unfortunately because of the TPD this is not possible as we cannot advertise on the positive benefits of vaping. We can however inform on the negative aspects, such as the addictive nature of nicotine. I have an idea: how about we go one step further with this and understand women aren’t that shallow. They may be FAR more interested in the possible internal health benefits opposed to the external, and who is to say men wouldn’t be interested in the external benefits of vaping too? I mean, who doesn’t want better skin and teeth and to not smell like a week old ashtray? To imply this is a female only concern is nonsensical.
Now let’s look at the second sweeping statement and put a stop to that right now. E-cigarettes are not fiddly confusing devices. As with anything when you are new to them, you need to read the instructions and learn the correct way to use them. To suggest that the reason women aren’t getting into vaping is down to their complexity, is utter nonsense – especially women aged 16-24, who have grown up in an age of technology. I think Zophie Vapes (youtube linked here), Mad Hatter aka Michelle (Youtube linked here) & Leenacookie (instagram linked here) among MANY other female vape enthusiasts would agree with me.
What we need to be looking at, rather than simplistic reasoning and segregating one small part of a demographic, is why aren’t more people taking up vaping over smoking when it is 95% less harmful.
So in conclusion, I think there needs to be a shift in perspective regarding women in vaping, Stop treating us like we are dainty little dears who are more concerned with how things look and the cosmetic benefits of vaping over smoking. We are just as concerned with the internal health benefits.
Now pass me my Smok Alien and let me know what your thoughts are.