The Contradiction Between The Vaping Market and The Alcohol Market

With the recent announcements of taxing e-liquid in the same way as cigarettes, banning disposable vapes, and restricting vape juice flavours, it makes you wonder why vaping has started to be more scrutinised than drinking alcohol. 

They’re both categorised as age-restricted products, but why has one of them started to be more criminalised than the other? 

In the UK, alcohol-related causes were reported to have resulted in 20,970 deaths in 2021 (38.5 per 100,000 people), the highest number ever and works out to about 57.45 deaths per day!

Three deaths in the UK have been connected to vaping products since May 2016, according to a study from the MHRA

You would think with such a high death rate from consuming alcohol, that alcohol was being tightly restricted, not vaping. 

So let’s look at more of the contradiction between these two restricted products…

The Sale and Use of Alcohol vs Vaping image of alcohol and vapes on shelves

The Sale and Use of Alcohol vs Vaping

When you walk into any licensed store, there are shelves upon shelves and aisles upon aisles, full of different alcohol types and different brands to choose from, all able to be taken off the shelf and into your basket. 

You can go online and find offerings for alcohol, you can go to sporting events and see alcohol being the main sponsor for major sporting teams. Social media ads, TV adverts, TV shows, films, billboards, everywhere you go there is an alcohol advertisement that young children and families see daily.

Adolescents who were most exposed to alcohol advertisements had a monthly consumption of 200 or more drinks. The more these alcohol advertisements children saw, the more of those brands they drank, according to research findings.

The contradiction here is that from the 29th of March 2024, all vape brands’ online profiles have to be private and it is already against advertising regulations to promote vapes. 

Disposable vapes and vaping products are allowed to be sold in any shop – there is no vaping license. Not only that, but these products are either behind glass cabinets or behind the shop till away from the hands of minors grabbing them. 

So why is one heavily publicised and the other one isn’t?

If youth vaping is an epidemic, and we agree, the rise of children getting their hands on them is concerning, then why is the government satisfied that alcohol licensing is enough to stop children drinking, but hasn’t considered the same for vaping? 

Vaping has been around since the early 2000s, there was never a youth vaping epidemic until disposable vapes started to be sold in brick-and-mortar, unregulated stores. 

TPD-compliant online vape stores, compliant brick-and-mortar vape shops and superstores all sell TPD-compliant disposables. These are 600 puff devices with no more than 2ml of nicotine e-liquid, any device claiming more puffs with nicotine, a bigger sized device, and a device that lights up when inhaled are already illegal in the UK. 

But yet, these are the disposable vapes that minors are getting their hands on. With the rigorous age-verification checks online stores do to make sure over-18s are purchasing TPD-compliant devices, and vape shops that adhere to the regulations, who is selling these devices? 

According to ASH, 20.5% of minors, aged between 11 and 17, reported trying vaping in 2023, compared to 15.8% in 2022 and 13.9% in 2020 – the years before the first COVID-19 lockdown. 

11.6% of respondents had only vaped once or twice, 7.6% were vaping at the time (3.9% less than once per week, 3.6% more than once per week), and 1.3% of respondents said they no longer vaped.

Despite this, according to the NHS, nearly half of 15-year-olds (48%) and nearly a third of 14-year-olds (32%) thought it was ok to consume alcohol once a week. Not only that, 19% of 15-year-olds thought it was all right to get drunk once a week. 

As you can see, one is visible from everywhere and the other is restricted with more restrictions coming into practice. 

The Presentation of Alcohol and E-Liquid blurred photo of alcohol on a shelf

The Presentation of Alcohol and E-Liquid

One argument for vaping being “attractive” to minors is the presentation of e-liquid bottles and disposable vape packaging. 

At Vapoholic, we agree that childish cartoons and imagery have no place on vaping products, but where is this energy for alcoholic beverages? 

The government talks are highlighting that vape packages should be the same as tobacco product packaging – black and brown, in standard font, with warning photos and texts taking over the package.

But alcohol brands can have bright-coloured packaging, and fun designs, some even come with a sombrero on the bottle lid. But that’s not classified as being attractive to children. 

Streamlining vaping products to the same standard as tobacco cigarettes and rolling tobacco will not discourage children from vaping, but it might discourage smokers who want to try a successful stop-smoking aid as they’ll categorise vaping as just as damaging as cigarettes, but we will get more into this in the next section. 

Even though alcohol is for over 18’s only, with Challenge 25 at compliant stores, there is still alcoholic drinks that looks and has branding the same as energy drinks with 7.5% alcohol volume and almost the same amount of caffeine as three expresso shots, costing less than £3 per can. Why are there no regulations around that?

According to research by the UK’s Portman Group, four out of five complaints about alcoholic marketing and packaging in 2022 were about its attractiveness to people under the age of 18.

Vaping isn’t made to be attractive to minors, it’s trying to be attractive to smokers to get them to switch to a healthier nicotine replacement.

The contradiction of restricting e-liquid flavours to appeal less to children, when alcoholic drink flavours range from sour cherry, strawberry cream, rainbow candy, watermelon, chocolate cream, and even Peaky Blinders marketed flavours, with some even having glitter inside the bottles.

If these flavoured drinks don’t promote a youth drinking epidemic, then vape flavours shouldn’t be the cause of a youth vaping epidemic. 

It’s strange to see vaping so criticised when the alcohol market has been doing this for decades. 


The Health Factors image of brain drowning in alcohol

The Health Factors

Now there are a lot of misconceptions about the health of vapes, but here are a couple of highlights to show vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes:

  • The NHS said that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than cigarettes. 
  • E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide. 
  • According to a recent study, it suggests that if 50% of all UK smokers were to switch to vaping instead, hospital admissions would reduce by 13%, saving the NHS £518 million per year.
  • There are little to no second-hand smoke risks from vaping around other people.
  • It is the most effective quit-smoking aid.
  • It is easy to transition to vaping, and then easier to fully quit your nicotine intake than it is to fully quit smoking. 

We advise, as well as the NHS, that if you have never smoked before, don’t start vaping. 

When you see people being hospitalised or on the very rare occasion, dying, they have been vaping illegal products that have banned vape ingredients inside. The UK borders seized over 4.5m non-compliant disposables vapes in 2023, these are the causes of vape-related illnesses, not regulated, compliant vaping products.  

Alcohol is expected to cost the NHS £3.5 billion in England each year, as well as £21 billion to society, whereas you can see above, that vaping could save the NHS £518 million per year – so why is vaping more demonised? 

It is very public knowledge that excessive drinking can lead to:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Mental health problems
  • And more.

So far, excessive vaping has been known to cause: 

  • Throat and mouth irritation
  • Headaches
  • Coughing
  • Feeling sick

Vaping is still relatively new, so there’s not enough long-term research on the use of prolonged vaping, but there is no good evidence that vaping causes cancer

Alcohol sobriety is so hard for addicts to achieve with multiple therapies, group interventions, and resources fighting hard to keep alcoholics sober. Vaping is a nicotine therapy that helps those addicted to cigarettes, not only does it allow them to cut down their nicotine intake, but it allows individuals to take full control of when they fully quit. 

Vaping is promoted as a successful, effective quit-smoking tool by the NHS, ASH, and other health organisations. 

If it is treated in the same bracket as tobacco-based products, smokers aren’t going to choose vaping to quit smoking. In June 2023, a study found that 57% of respondents said they thought vaping was equally as harmful as smoking or more harmful, adding to the misconceptions about vaping and how beneficial it can be for ex-smokers.

So why are the government and other organisations trying to paint a different picture of vaping, when alcohol consumption is so harmful? 

The CEO of Vapoholic has said:

“After decades of ineffective stop-smoking cessation products, vaping has become the number 1 effective method and has significantly helped a remarkable number of people. It is a shame vaping has been vilified when it has saved the lives of ex-smokers compared to other quit-smoking aids.” 

The Societal Factors f a man constructing a vape

The Societal Factors 

Not only are the health factors of consuming alcohol more dangerous than vaping, but the societal differences are also quite extreme. 

It is heavily accepted in UK society to be drinking and to be drunk. Almost every celebration includes alcohol, and some would even find it strange if you were not drinking at one. 

People loved drinking so much that during The Prohibition Era in 1920’s America, prompted illicit bars, Speakeasies, to pop up in multiple towns so people could secretly drink alcohol, dance, and socialise. 

Drinking alcohol and being drunk is so heavily accepted now, that nobody really questions why it is so easy to fall into drinking. 

But is vaping or being drunk more damaging to society? 

Who do you avoid when you’re out and about: a loud, drunk person or someone who is puffing on a vape device? 

Anti-social behaviours from drunk individuals are rife in the UK. Alcohol-related violent crime is expected to cost approximately £1 billion annually. 

Other alcohol-related offences, such as drink-driving, add an additional £627 million, bringing the total cost to the police and criminal justice system to £1.6 billion. 

This is no anti-social behaviour caused by nicotine consumption, so why is alcohol so embedded into our society and seen as such a norm, but vaping is currently under scrutiny? 

At Vapoholic, we’re advocates for promoting vaping as a successful quit-smoking tool, supporting healthier lifestyles for ex-smokers. 

To see the vape industry being criticised for the youth vaping epidemic that has been caused by recent external factors when other age-restricted industries are more harmful to the public is questionable. 

Alternative solutions to helping this epidemic would be a license to sell vape products, an increased budget for trading standards to ensure TPD-compliant products are being sold in shops in the UK, and stricter border enforcement to keep those illicit vapes from being imported into the country. Rather than a higher tax that will make vaping a less attractive, cheaper option for nicotine replacement and restricting the flavours that help smokers give up cigarettes. 

The ‘Don’t ban flavoured e-liquids for e-cigarettes’ petition is currently at nearly 46k signatures, the government has responded by saying there will be another consultation in the future for which flavours will be restricted. 

We urge you to sign the petition and keep an eye out for the future government consultation. 

You can also contact your local MP to share you opinion if vaping has been successful for you. 

And remember to drink and vape responsibly. 

Reference List:

Alcohol Rehab Guide. (n.d.). The Prevalence of Alcohol in TV. [online] Available at:

ASH (2023). Summary of key findings Use of e-cigarettes (vapes) among young people in Great Britain. [online] Available at:

Bracknell News. (2023). Switching to vapes ‘could save NHS more than half a billion a year’, study says. [online] Available at: 

CANCER RESEARCH UK (2023). Is vaping harmful? [online] Cancer Research UK. Available at:

Conway, L. (2024). Advertising, marketing and promotion of vaping products . [online] Available at:

Feilden, E. (2022). 80% of alcohol product complaints are about appealing to children. [online] The Drinks Business. Available at: (2021). Vaping in England: 2021 Evidence Update Summary. [online] GOV.UK. Available at:

GOV.UK (2023). Local Alcohol Profiles for England: short statistical commentary, March 2023. GOV.UK. [online] 7 Mar. Available at:

Ls, B. (2015). E-cigarettes: an Evidence Update a Report Commissioned by Public Health England. [online] Available at:

NHS (2019). Using e-cigarettes to Stop Smoking – Quit Smoking. [online] NHS. Available at:

NHS (2022). Vaping to quit smoking – better health. [online] Available at:

NHS Digital. (n.d.). Part 7: Young people and alcohol: the context. [online] Available at:

Over four million illegal vapes seized at border. (2024). BBC News. [online] 27 Jan. Available at: 

Snowdon, C. (2015). ALCOHOL AND THE PUBLIC PURSE Do drinkers pay their way? [online] Available at:

UCL (2024). Most smokers wrongly believe vaping is at least as harmful as smoking. [online] UCL News. Available at: ‌ (2023). The risks of drinking too much. [online] Available at:

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