Update: The 2018 annual predictions are now out – and better than ever! See what 15 experts think is going to happen next year here…
Essential reading for the informed vaper.
The future of vaping is uncertain.
The FDA is on a mission to ban 99% of e-cigs in the USA…
denying choice to the 10% of adult Americans who vape.
And EU regulations will affect many millions of vapers in Europe.
What will happen to vapers – and vape technology – in 2016?
To find out, we spoke to different voices from across the industry, including a scientist, an analyst, a documentary film maker, activists, bloggers and more.
Here’s what they had to say.
- Who we spoke to
- Drawing it all together
- A Billion Lives: Trailer
- Downloadable PDF
- 2015 Predictions
Who we spoke to:
Konstantinos Farsalinos, MD: Konstantinos is vaping’s most prolific and best known researcher. Simply put, it’s impossible to do justice to his enormous contribution to vaping in a short paragraph. Website | Prediction
Clive Bates: Former director of Action and Smoking in Health, Clive Bates commands huge respect in the e-cig world and has been instrumental in the public health U-Turn on e-cigs in the UK. Website | Prediction
Tim Phillips, E-Cig Intelligence: E-Cig Intelligence digs deep into the trends and regulatory changes in the e-cig industry. Few should be able to predict changes in tends more accurately than MD, Tim Phillips. Website | Prediction
Lorien Jollye, New Nicotine Alliance: Unpaid vape activist, Lorien, has spent years speaking about the benefits of e-cigs for the consumer, and has presented at E-Cig Summit, in parliament and many other conferences. Wesbite | Prediction
Jim McManus, Director of Public Health: Jim works to improve the health of over 1,1 million people in Hertfordshire. His writings and talks combine deep insight with compassion and humour. Blog | Prediction
Oliver Kershaw, founder ECigaretteForum: Inventor, blogger, activist – Oliver has many strings to his bow! He is best known for founding e-cigarette forum, which has helped millions of smokers to switch to vaping. Forum | Prediction
Aaron Biebert, A Billion Lives: Aaron is the director of A Billion Lives. Due to be released next year, the documentary aims to expose the lies and conflicting interests that have dogged the industry from its inception. Check out the trailer at the end of this post! Website | Prediction
Dimitris aka The Vaping Greek: If you’re a vaping enthusiast, Dimitris needs no introduction! Vlogger, blogger and activist, his entertaining and educational videos have racked up millions of views. Website | Prediction
Dick Puddlecote, blogger: Dick is a libertarian blogger who takes no prisoners. If you’re easily offended, don’t read his blog. If you do read it, you’ll find it aggressive but also funny and insightful. Website | Prediction
Scott Bonner (aka igetcha69) E-Cig-Reviews: Back in 2008 when ECigaretteForum had just 100 members, Scott took his first vape. Since then his candid YouTube videos have helped tens of thousands of smokers switch to e-cigs. Website | Prediction
Joe Petner, Vapor Joes: Controversial blogger Joe Petner aims to find the best e-cig deals for his thousands of followers. He’s also been very spot on in some of his previous predictions for this blog. Website | Prediction
2016 E-Cig Predictions
2016: A Challenging Year For The E-Cigarette Industry And For Public Health
Konstantinos Farsalinos, M.D.
This year is going to be challenging. Challenging for the e-cigarette industry, because they have to adapt to upcoming EU regulations, bypass any hurdles in product development and testing, and promote user satisfaction and safety. Challenging for Public Health, to finally accept the important role of e-cigarettes in promoting the health and reducing the risk for smokers.
Research will again be the major and only argument supporting the positive impact of e-cigarettes on the population. Additionally, more evidence will determine the safest way of using e-cigarettes, in terms of materials choice and impact of new technologies such as temperature control.
Another challenge for the industry will be the strong presence of Big Tobacco in the e-cigarette market. They are coming fast, and with a large amount of evidence. This is not necessarily bad, but we need innovation coming from small and medium-sized companies, and we need competition and product variability. The independent e-cigarette companies will need to adjust their strategy, promote research and development and make their products more effective and appealing to smokers.
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Totally Wicked Will Win (Some!) Of Its Case
Clive Bates: Blogger, Activist, Ex Director ASH England
Totally Wicked will win some of its case – not even the most politically biased judge will be able to find that all Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive promotes the free movement of good in the internal market, or harmonises the laws of members states.
Some of Article 20 will survive the court challenge and this will begin to create havoc for no useful purpose in the vapour market – hitting businesses with a wide range of products, sold at low volumes especially hard and making life easier for tobacco companies.
At the same time, we will see the start of innovative workarounds – legal, DIY or black-market – with more interest in cross-border internet trade, thus depriving UK and EU business of sales and redirecting custom to wholesalers in China – another win for the EU prosperity agenda! We will see new business models develop to overcome burdens of regulation – for example, many suppliers import exactly the same products from China: by nominating a single importer the products would be notified only once.
Heat-not-Burn products will hit the European market before 20 May 2016, when Article 19 of the TPD cuts in – expect to hear a lot from Philip Morris International as it brings its Marlboro-branded iQOS to market. It will do better than most vaping consumers expect, but not as well as PMI hopes.
The products will continue to improve, with major uptake of temperature control and more compact high powered batteries. The tobacco companies will get their act together through R&D or further acquisition and start to offer well-packaged easy to use products with better nicotine delivery. Licensed medical vapour products will hit the market, but what seemed like a good idea in 2012 will only prove popular with a narrow niche of consumers – those who wish to use NRT now.
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Compliance Will Drive Acceptance and Growth
Tim Phillips: E-Cig Intelligence
What we can be sure of in this fast-moving e-cigarette sector is that any prediction of what will happen in 2016 is going to be wrong. But broadly I’m very optimistic for the future.
The period will be overshadowed by regulation, with the Tobacco Products Directive coming into force in Europe in May, and the U.S. FDA’s deeming regulations likely to appear in the early parts of next year. But I think despite this, there will be increased growth in the sector, driven by improved consumer confidence in the category and better products coming onto the market.
Yes, the regulations will be far from perfect, and yes, they will be burdensome, particularly for smaller companies, but the costs of compliance will be a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars predicted by some. And while consumer confidence is at an all time low, with more consumers believing in 2014 that e-cigarettes are “as dangerous or worse than” combustible cigarettes compared to the previous year, the sector needs to step back and accept that it has an image problem.
This is particularly true amongst the very group who could benefit most from the category: those smokers who have yet to try an e-cigarette. Having “compliant” product in the market, however imperfectly the regulations are implemented, will drive acceptance and growth in the category, and consumer behaviour is a much stronger force than regulatory pressure can ever be.
It’s not all good news of course: some of the major threats still on the horizon include blanket marketing restrictions as countries try to block all forms of advertising of the products, distance-sales restrictions obliging customers to only buy in-store, and burdensome tax. But 2016 will also see a huge increase in the amount of science and data published on e-cigarettes, which can only lead to more understanding and better acceptance of this exciting new product category. Contrary to what some commentators have been saying this year, the sector is not over by any means – it’s just starting.
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Regulators Are Going To Struggle
Lorien Jollye, New Nicotine Alliance
2016 is going to be a peculiar year as PH come more and more onside at the same time as the TPD threatens to tear the rug from under our feet.
The MHRA are going to have so much paperwork land on their desks I suspect an entirely new office is going to be needed just to house it all. Meanwhile, the vastly underfunded and understaffed Trading Standards will be throwing up their hands in despair with wails of ‘we just cannot do this!’.
Aside from dealing with impending legislation globally, we have to start finding ways to ‘de-demonise’ nicotine as this continues to be one of our biggest problems. We are going to need to be tireless and brave next year, it’s gonna be a long one!
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The Division in Public Health Will Grow
Jim McManus, Hertfordshire Public Health
My hope is that the next year or two will see more people take up e-cigarettes as a way out of smoking.
My fear is that the impact of a badly designed TPD will perversely keep some people smoking tobacco leading to the entirely preventable disease, disability and death its authors purport to support.
I think we will see the division in public health grow. A small but growing flow of public health professionals will realise the benefits of e-cigarettes to get people off tobacco, especially people who find it most difficult to move from tobacco.
As the cuts to public health in England, smoking cessation services who engage constructively with this trend will find a way into a more sustainable future than those who don’t. For those who don’t, footfall will continue to drop and, in an atmosphere of cuts, more and more smoking services which show fewer and fewer customers will become prime candidates for cuts.
Public health professionals who remember vaping gets its strength from being a consumer driven movement will reap better health benefits from their populations than those who seek to control vaping and access to e-cigarettes. Those who try to buck the market will find it doesn’t work.
Regulation Will Be a Mess, But Innovation Will Continue
Oliver Kershaw Founder: E-Cigarette Forum
Next year’s the biggie for EU vapers and I almost don’t want to predict what’s going to happen. It’s going to be a mess, that much is sure.
Some EU nations will be much stricter than others in enforcement, which makes a bit of a mockery of the “harmonisation” justification for the law.
Of course, with other markets currently still open for now, vaping innovation can carry on apace. I’ve just returned from China where I’ve seen some very exciting new stuff, and hopefully we’ll start to see it getting into the hands of many more smokers globally.
In the US (as elsewhere) it’s going to be a numbers game. The more smokers who migrate, the harder it’s going to be to justify the FDA’s insane plan to destroy the market. Innovation is key here: the last year has seen a few developments, but their benefits to the wider smoking consumer are still unclear.
Still, soon it will no longer be possible for the CDC (and others) to claim that the drop in smoker numbers is down to anything other than vaping products. Sadly, the FDA would rather turn the category into a homogenised product owned by big tobacco incumbents who have no real interest in seeing it succeed.
There are two documentaries which have chronicled the global vaping movement over the last year. Both will released roughly the same time early next year. A Billion Lives (US production) and Vape Wave (French production) will both tell one of the most fascinating stories of our times. I hope they have a huge impact in public perception globally.
And public perception is key here. If the vape issue is to be decided in the court of public opinion, as things stand we’re on the wrong side of that judgement.
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The Smear Campaign Will Continue
Aaron Biebert: A Billion Lives
In 2016, smoke-free vaping advocates in Europe will watch their options begin to narrow as public health authorities use the fear of hurting children to justify continued restrictions on life-saving vaping options for smokers.
Unless judges step in, watch for new attacks that are backed by Big Pharma and eagerly accepted by the governments who profit most from traditional cigarette sales. Despite this continued campaign against alternatives to smoking, many US firms will see it as a safe haven for investment in the industry. Competition will increase in the e-liquid market.
Those supporting vaping as a way to quit cigarette smoking in the United States will finally see what happens when the burden of advocacy is only carried by a small percent of the industry.
Despite new studies showing vaping to be much healthier than smoking, the smear campaign will continue as funding and influence from Big Pharma and the CDC push public health organizations to continue the war on vaping. 2016 will be a year of litigation.
However, as cigarette sales continue to fall, the biggest threat to vaping will be from local and state governments passing new restrictions and taxes to pay for their social programs and payday loan style “tobacco bonds”.
Since many states still do not have organizations in place to protect vaping businesses and their customers, these bans will be enacted relatively easily. Many vape shops will close. Many smokers will keep smoking.
The wild card will be our movie, A Billion Lives. If the public begins to truly understand vaping and the corruption at play, politicians and health leaders will be less likely to say and do things that support cigarette sales. Unless the film reaches massive audiences in 2016, the shift in perception will probably take until 2017.
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Vapers Are Blissfully Unaware Of What’s Coming
Dick Puddlecote, Blogger
When trying to predict the future of e-cigs and vaping in 2016, it’s difficult to find anything positive to say. While the vast majority of vapers have been enjoying their new-found freedom from tobacco, attending festivals and sharing handchecks, the professional anti-harm reduction crowd have quietly got on with their business.
Just as there was little effort towards stopping alcohol Prohibition in 1920s America because “drinkers were too busy drinking”, so many vapers – and even vendors – are blissfully unaware of what is coming down the track next year.
In the EU, 28 member states are being ordered to cease all e-cig advertising from May, and misleading warnings will be slapped on e-liquid supplies, so much so that information on what the consumer is actually buying will be reduced to an almost illegible afterthought.
Most devices currently being used will become non-compliant overnight and onerous regulations on manufacturers will decimate the market and render choice almost irrelevant.
The measures planned are only, at time of writing, starting to materialise, but it looks very much like Vapefests won’t be that exciting when the number of stalls are slashed and the flavours reduced to just a few ‘safe’ nondescript lines. Perhaps then some vapers who thought the lectures from vaping advocates at these events were tedious might reflect that they could have spent more time listening to what they could have done to stop the onslaught instead of walking on by.
In the USA, the FDA deeming regs look like being even more damaging, it’s hard to see the vaping market existing at all under current proposals. Meanwhile, on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, bans on vaping – indoors and outdoors – are installed on a daily basis without even a nod to science or unintended consequences.
‘Friendly’ tobacco controllers bleat mildly that there is no call for the bans, but their approach is notably less forthright in defending vapers than it is when they are demanding evermore odious restrictions on smokers. The latter are always urgent, a ‘ticking time-bomb’, whereas where e-cigs are concerned they’re just, well, “concerned”.
So I can only expect more counterproductive bans on vaping, more of the public being convinced that vapour is dangerous, more lies and misinformation being accepted as truth, and the attraction of e-cigs as an alternative to smoking being systematically destroyed by vested interests – and easily-gulled politicians – who pay lip service to their self-professed care for health.
Apart from that, have a joyous Christmas and a Happyish New Year.
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The Trend Toward High VG and Lower Nicotine levels Will Continue And Grow
Julia Hartley-Barnes, Spinfuel Magazine
We’ve been very lucky these past few years. Escaping major regulations, the industry has been growing on a global scale. Will our luck run out in 2016? Maybe.
I tend to be pessimistic when governments get involved in anything, and I see no reason for optimism now. It might be that we see no changes next year, or the year after, but it cannot continue indefinitely.
Below are some thoughts on things that could happen next year, based on experience and reading as much ‘negative’ news as I can. Only by knowing what the anti-vaping crowd is saying and doing can we understand how far they are willing to go. We know what we believe, but it is even more important to know what “they” believe. – Julia
1 – This year (2015) we’ve reviewed so many excellent high VG e-liquids that I believe the trend toward High VG and lower nicotine levels will definitely continue and grow. With these “better” eliquids come even more high wattage vaping instruments and lower resistance atomizers. But how high can you go before it gets too high, and how much lower can low resistance coils get? At some point we all have to say “when”. That could come in 2016.
2 – China’s Planned Obsolesce for vaping products will continue in 2016. Unfortunately, this planned obsolesce doesn’t equate to much innovation. Most of the products to come out of China this year have been incremental improvements, laid out according to this ‘plan’, without significantly true innovation behind these new products.
I believe that in the latter part of 2016 more vapers will come to the conclusion that what they have is fine, and will begin to turn away from every new “version” of the products they use because the benefits of the newer version are not enough to warrant the expense. Perhaps more vapers will begin to turn to US made devices, as they have done with e-liquids back in early 2013.
3 – As FDA regulations get closer to becoming a reality we should see weak vendors begin to bale out. Even if the FDA doesn’t do anything brash we can all expect to pay more for vape gear and e-liquids, consumers and wholesalers. I’ve seen a few of my friends get out of the business this year, and I expect to see more in 2016.
4 – If we are pretending that it will be business as usual in 2016 I suspect we’ll see many new start-ups in China trying to take a slice of the multi-billion-dollar market. Whether any of them make any headroom into the marketplace is anybody’s guess. The major manufacturers have a tight grip right now, so it will take vastly improved devices to see them show up on the radar. I’m not confident in the concept of honest competition in China.
5 – Without a constantly growing Chinese economy there will be massive shortcuts in production to protect profits. If the vaping industry slows down due to regulations around the world or by lack of innovation, or anything else, I expect to see more catastrophic failures of vape gear in consumer’s hands. This could (will) lead to more regulations, tighter controls, a fearful public. A single major incident could wreak havoc on the industry.
6 – I don’t expect to see a major improvement with lithium based batteries in the vape industry or anywhere else in 2016, but I expect to see more Lithium Polymer driven devices in 2016.
EU Tobacco Directive
7 – It is hard to imagine European governments deliberately killing the vape industry in their respective countries, but that could very well happen in May of 2016 when new directives for “tobacco products” take hold. It would take a miracle for any EU government to recognize that the products sold for vaping are not tobacco products. There isn’t much faith of a “Knight on a White horse” rushing in to save the day. I could be wrong, but I believe classifying vape gear and eliquid as tobacco products will become official and Europe will feel the pinch in a big way by years’ end.
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2016 Will Be The Year of Vape Politics.
Dimitris Agrafiotis aka The Vaping Greek
2016 is without a doubt going to be the most tumultuous year in our industry’s history. We are going to finally see a rule from the FDA attempting to regulate electronic cigarettes under their tobacco jurisdiction. For us that are ex smokers and this product literally saved our lives that is a tough acceptance. I for one struggled many years to break away from the tobacco chain addiction and all of sudden I find myself back in the same perception as I did when I smoked combustible tobacco (many of the last few years hiding behind a dumpster).
On one hand I am glad that we will finally see a rule so we know where to begin our fight. Many states took action simply because they did not want to wait for the federal regulations (and their cash registers drained) that have caused many small businesses troubles and have disrupted the chain of distribution. State laws unlike federal can be enacted quickly and via special interest groups with huge pockets can pass legislation damaging to the vaping industry such as laws passed in Indiana and D.C. this past year.
But now our focus once again shifts to an unfair classification and pre market application review for a product that was never intended to be regulated as such. Simply put the FDA is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
I predict 2016 will be filled with litigation, the biggest we have seen so far and hopefully a much needed outcry by us the users of the products that may have taken advocacy not so seriously in the past, especially since the consumer choices will be limited or flat out eliminated as predicted by many other experts based on the proposed deeming rule.
The key to any successful advocacy movement is organization. No such person or business in our sector is such a powerful force that they will effect change themselves.
So brace for it my fellow vapers, We have to go on the offensive in 2016. A concentrated effort by industry and consumers that overlooks a micro view of business and taking on a macro perspective of how to unify and work as one to overcome bad policy.
2016 will be the year of vape politics.
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Quality E-Cigs Will Come to the Mass Market
Scott: E-Cig Reviews
For the past few years the vaping world has been dominated by highly sought after and expensive mods and atomisers. Brought to us by many skilled mod makers, these have taken vaping to the next level and beyond.
During this time, mass produced items from countries such as China were frowned upon. Generally, these were either geared towards the beginner market, poor quality attempts at original mods or clones of established products.
But at the end of last year the Aspire Atlantis came to market, followed closely by the Kanger SubTank.
Since then, I’ve felt that the mass produced Chinese made products have been improving consistently – whilst still retaining the low cost price point for the customer.
From a personal view point, I think its fantastic that these products are original in design – and don’t just simply pinch other people’s designs and concepts!
These days we can get a good quality original atomiser for less than £30. We can have it setup and running in seconds (thanks to pre built coils) and get a performance equal in quality to atomisers costing 5 times as much.
Vaping needs to be cheaper, easier and yet still have high performance. That’s why I think 2016 will be the year for the mass produced market.
I can also see more collaboration between respected mod makers and Chinese manufacturers to share designs and concepts. (One example is the Evolv and their DNA boards for example). This will bring quality goods to the mass market that will be available to everyone – at a very reasonable price.
I love the “high end” products on the market. Built by hand or produced in limited numbers, their appeal to the vaping hardcore won’t be dwindling any time soon.
But if we can get to a place where high end products and mass produced products can perform equally well, everyone regardless of their budget will have access to a top class vape!
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The Year The E-Cig Bubble Will Burst
If you look at my past predictions you will find I’m extremely accurate. This is a warning to all vendors.
This year my predictions are a bit more grim. This has nothing to do with regulation or the FDA but more about a market correction. The Ecig market is saturated.
It seems every vapor wants to start an online business, a juice line, or open a store. All saturated markets eventually have a bubble – and that bubble will eventually burst.
Unfortunately we have reached this moment. The gravy train is over. Many online and physical store locations are going out of business and many once popular juice lines are dying off.
As much as we hate this, it is necessary. This clears the dead wood from the industry, allowing for more innovations. The cream truly does rise to the top.
Companies that think smart and invest smart will survive this correction. Vendors that continue to think spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on useless promotion (i.e. booth babes, stripper poles, and exotic cars at ecig shows) – will find themselves the first to die off.
With that grim news out of the way we can talk juice and hardware.
Juice prices will continue to fall. With this saturated market less and less people will spend $20.00 on a 30ml bottle of juice. As I did with hardware, I have been pushing very aggressively for juice prices to come down. I only promote companies that have reasonable prices and it is working. The average juice price has been cut in half at most locations. Companies wholesaling juice from expensive lines are dumping them at bargain basement prices.
I expect this trend to continue through 2016.
In terms of hardware, I believe tube mods will make a come-back. Over the last year we have seen the prolific production of box mods continue. While I still prefer box mods, vapers get bored quickly and unless there is some sort of new innovation, tube mods may be the back in style by Q3 or Q4 of 2016.
If there’s one thing clear about 2016, it’s that nothing is clear.
The FDA regulations could wipe out 99% of vaping products in the US. But will the government impose legislation that will annoy 10% of the US adult population?
EU regulations are coming into place in May 2015. But they’re still not clearly defined, and they’re being challenged in court.
Meanwhile, the UK government doesn’t like the regulations. The MHRA claims that the enforcing the regulations is outside its mission and that it won’t even look at all submissions. Trading Standards remains chronically under-resourced.
There’s a good chance that e-cig regulation won’t be effectively enforced.
Technology seems to have come to a bit of a standstill. Will the ridiculously fast innovation cycle slow down, or will manufacturers come up with something completely new?
One thing that won’t change is attacks on the disruptive e-cig industry, financed by bodies threatened by the success of the device.
Only if vapers finally stand up for themselves will we be able to use our huge numbers to defend vaping.
I hope you found this post useful. If you did, I’d really appreciate if you could take a second to share it on social media.
Billion Lives: Trailer