Demand for e-cigarettes surged in 2020 as smokers sought out less harmful alternatives, according to a new report by Vype maker British American Tobacco (BAT).
Sales of BAT’s Vype and VUSE products rose by 52 percent, contributing to profits for the first time.
Overall, BAT increased the number of consumers of its non-combustible products by half a million, the company said.
Meanwhile, cigarette volumes fell by fell by 4.5 percent, with BAT citing the pandemic for the downturn.
BAT’s cigarette brands include Lucky Strike, Dunhill, Kent, Rothmans and Pall Mall.
The Vype maker said that is confident it will meet its target of 50 million customers using lower-risk products by 2050.
Chief executive, Jack Bowles, said:
“As the largest, and only truly global company in our industry, we take seriously our role to transform ourselves and demonstrate thought leadership.
“We have a clear purpose to reduce the harm footprint of our business. We are uniquely positioned to encourage the switch to reduced risk products.”
Competitor Altria announced in January that its tobacco sales increased in 2020, suggesting that Americans are smoking more during lockdown.
Altria’s cigarettes sales grew by 0.4 percent in 2020 after a steady, decades-long decline.
Sales had dipped by 5.5 percent the previous year as more and more smokers quit or switched to less harmful alternatives like e-cigarettes.
As well as investing heavily in nicotine patches and the heat-not burn device IQOS, Altria owns a 35 percent share of JUUL.
Altria’s initial $12.8 billion investment in 2018 is now worth £1.6 billion, reflecting a rapidly diminishing trust among the public over the safety of vaping, as well as reduced access to JUUL’s once-varied flavour profile.