For the sixth year running, you’ll find our annual vape predictions.
Our aim here is to get a range of perspectives from across different sectors and different parts of the world.
We’ve sought out scientists and experts to give us the viewpoint from academia, while public health representatives let us peer into the policy perspective.
We think it’s really important to include the views of vapers, and you’ll find the opinions of vape bloggers, reviewers and advocates.
We also seek out the views of the e-cig industry, and for the first time you’ll find one of the big Chinese e-cig manufacturers sharing their thoughts, as well as the President of the Independent British Vaping Trade Association and Managing Director of Totally Wicked.
To get a global perspective, we look for experts from around the world, and you’ll find predictions from the UK, Australasia, Europe and the USA.
There’s 15 experts represented this year. We do ask people to limit their contributions, but some people have a lot to say, and we’re reluctant to edit submissions. That makes for a long post – so for those with a passing interest you’ll find key quotes at the top of the post.
The result is a broad but expert perspective of the e-cig industry – and one you won’t find anywhere else freely available on the internet. Enjoy!
Vape Predictions at a Glance
Clive Bates: Former director of Action and Smoking in Health
“Vaping will continue its rise and smoking will continue its accelerated decline. This is how we win.”
David Sweanor: Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa
“We will once again see an unleashing of innovation that will dramatically change the US, and global, nicotine markets.”
Phil Busardo Advocate, YouTuber, owner of Taste Your Juice
“For a long time, I feel we strayed and forgot about the most important vaper out there… the smoker who has not yet converted. I’m happy to see that change a bit at this point.”
Tim Phillips E-Cig Intelligence
“…there is an inevitable movement towards a better understanding, and therefore acceptance of, the category [vape and reduced risk alternatives to smoking]”
Pamela Gorman Executive Director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association
“It is my firm belief that we are perched on the edge of a new age in our regulatory oversight and this is NOT the time we can afford to lose steam.”
Marewa Glover PHD, School of Health Sciences, College of Health, Massey University, New Zealand & Chair of End Smoking NZ.
“2018 will be another hard year for Australian smokers and vapers caught in a death roll with a crocodile-like public health movement intent on dragging them under.”
Sarah Jakes A founding trustee of the consumer led charity New Nicotine Alliance
“…more stop smoking services will become truly ecig-friendly and those who don’t will see ever dwindling numbers.”
James Li Founder and President of Innokin
“Mouth to Lung low wattage vaping, vape starter kits and pod systems will become increasingly popular…”
Alex Clark Legislative Coordinator, CASAA Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association
“The discussion about flavors and the role they play in both smoke-free and combustible tobacco products will reach a fever pitch in 2018.”
Fraser Cropper President of the IBVTA (Independent British Vapers Trade Association), MD of Totally Wicked
“2018 perhaps offers the first year when our sector can perhaps start to look forward with some optimism and with business plans that do not need closed eyes and a pair of dice to implement.”
Jim McDonald Editor Vaping 360
“2018 must be the year the independent vaping industry moves to define itself as something other than makers of useful harm reduction products.”
Neil Humber: Editor E-Cig Click
“2018 should see the UK become the global beacon of reason in all things vape.”
Ghyslain Armand, Funder of Vaping Post and PGVG Magazine. Co-maker of the documentary film “Beyond the Cloud”.
“We need, more than ever, to draw a RED LINE between vaping and tobacco.”
Louise Ross Manager for Leicester’s Stop Smoking Service
“More Stop Smoking Services will watch the brilliant educational films created by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, and will start to think seriously about how to translate the messages into practice…”
“Vapers and the vape trade will turn the tide on the supposed harms of vaping…”
Clive Bates: This is how we win…
Director, Counterfactual Consulting Limited, Ex Director of Action on Smoking and Health, Blogs at CliveBates.com
The UK’s example will be hard to ignore and despite the absurd burdens of the TPD. PHE and other UK organisations will become bolder in promoting vaping as an alternative to smoking, vaping will continue its rise and smoking will continue its accelerated decline. This is how we win.
Australia’s parliament will look beyond the lost extremists in its public health establishment and start to unwind the de facto prohibition of nicotine-based vaping.
At COP-8, WHO will for the first time feel some real pressure for its prohibitionist stance on vaping from member governments. In response, the organisation will become more cultish, less trusted, and more obsessed with conspiracies.
I’m expecting to see some new technologies in the year ahead – e.g. something other than coils for heating liquids and there will be more interest in usability, especially for first time users. Heat-not-burn will be a growth area and will really ramp up in Europe in 2018.
While no-one is paying much attention, one of the court cases against the US deeming rule will be won on appeal, and Scott Gottlieb will prove to be a sound administrator at FDA.
David Sweanor, Vaping will see an unleashing of innovation.
Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa
A few years ago, Dan Gardner wrote a book called Super Babble, detailing the way people love to read predictions despite the dismal record of expert forecasts. Regardless, I am hoping my lack of expertise might result in some beginner’s luck, and I bravely/foolishly offer my predictions.
Out on a limb here: the FDA moves ahead with its ‘continuum of risk’ approach to nicotine products. It thus repeats what that agency did in 1906 on sanitary food and 1938 on science-based pharmaceuticals in giving a marketplace advantage to products that protect health by tremendously reducing the risks of the incumbent category of products. We will once again see an unleashing of innovation that will dramatically change the US, and global, nicotine markets. As with past measures that harnessed market forces for health goals, the rapidity of change in the market – and in health – will once again amaze many people.
Juul will continue to shake up the US market for mass produced vaping products, showing that start-ups have significant advantages over incumbent players, just as usually happens with disruptive technology.
By telegraphing the potential for success in disrupting the $800 billion global cigarette market, particularly if regulators such as the FDA [see above] start to facilitate rather than stymie the obsolescence of cigarettes, we will start to see a massive increase in innovation.
Painfully and deadly gradually, regulators globally will come to understand that not only is it
counterproductive to stop people moving to low risk alternatives to cigarettes, but it is also impossible.
They will, instead, start focusing at how to facilitate the transition. In the meantime, they will face consumer insubordination, lawsuits, and terrible public relations.
The plummeting sales of cigarettes in Japan due to consumers being offered a viable non-combustion alternative will become too prominent to ignore. There will be a growing recognition that we have never seen such a rapid and sustainable decline in cigarette sales.
Even ideologues who have steadfastly tried to ignore Japan to date, and Sweden historically, will have to address this if they are to stay relevant. As South Korea and other places replicate this Japanese success, the pressure for policies that facilitate rather than stymie the move to safer products will accelerate.
Some big tobacco companies will sound ever more like public health advocates. People will be confused. Many anti-tobacco groups will simply, naively and counterproductively oppose anything they do. Yet the actions will be predictable. Some companies see the potential to get a leg up on competitors. Some have employees with a strong personal and professional interest in industry transformation. All the companies have hugely increasing legal liability associated with selling cigarettes as it becomes clear there are viable alternatives that are massively less hazardous. The more their competitors offer safer products and better information, the greater the legal risks for any company that fails to do so.
These companies will increasingly be driven to reduce their legal risks by looking eminently reasonable in their efforts to reduce their customers’ health risks. Well, unless they are once again protected by the proclivity of their opponents to score own-goals.
Phil Busardo: Back to basics for vaping
Advocate, YouTuber, owner of Taste Your Juice
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Everyone was vaping… yes… even the mouse.
So what are my thoughts for 2018?
The last time I wrote this article I changed “thoughts” to “hopes”. I think I need to do that again.
I’ve begun to see a bit of a trend back to the mouth to lung (MTL) style of vaping. More (real ?? ) starter kits, pod systems, and beginner’s devices. I’m thrilled to see this and hope the trend continues. For a long time, I feel we strayed and forgot about the most important vaper out there… the smoker who has not yet converted. I’m happy to see that change a bit at this point. (Note: Since this interview Phil has collaborated with Innokin to produce the Zenith mouth to lung tank.)
I’d like to see higher nicotine levels be available to those who need it. Not only with salts, but also with free base nic liquids. Does the shop that only carries 0, 3, & 6mg REALLY care about the transitioning smoker? I don’t think so and hope to see that change.
I hope to see the complete and total elimination of childish labels, questionable marketing and brand infringement in the industry. This does nothing but make the industry look bad and makes it more difficult for those trying to do things right to continue to do so.
I hope to see more testing done in all the different ways we vape today. Years ago, one test would cover 90% of the vapers out there. Now… one test maybe covers 20%. Wattage, temperature, materials, exposure, consumption all need to be looked out. For some, “It’s all safer than smoking” is good enough and that’s ok. For others, we need the information required to make educated decisions on what it is we’re doing.
Recently, I received two emails from CASAA and VTA that spoke of UNITY. I am thrilled to see this and hope to see more of it. I want to see the different groups working together as one strong unified voice with our best interests in mind. We need wins. We need to continue to fight. There is so much to be lost… Jobs, businesses, incomes, and most of all… LIVES!
As I write this, it’s been 8 years, 5 months, and 5 days since I lit my last cigarette. It’s been a wild ride and I’m so thankful for all the opportunities that vaping and all of you have given me.
I started this article with “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Everyone was vaping… yes… even the mouse.” That’s not too far from the truth. Most of the people in my life have transitioned from smoking to vaping. There are some hold-outs, but at least they’re dual using.
I hope through my continued efforts in the community whether it be reviews, articles, the new “Smokers Show” that Dimitris and I have coming, devices I’m involved with, or simply by answering an email that I can continue to help show people that there is a far better alternative to smoking and that is VAPING!
Thank you and Vape Happy My Friends!
Tim Phillips: A greater understanding, and increased demand for reduced risk products
Director, E-Cig Intelligence
Another year has passed with substantial change in an e-cig sector whose normality is to exist in flux. Having just read my entry for this column last year, it has brought home to me just how fast everything moves!
In 2017, we started the year with the rush for companies to implement the TPD in Europe. The industry really got behind the notification process, with tens of thousands of products notified across the 28 member states of the EU. So many in fact that the computer system used to receive notifications broke under the strain, with a peak of 40,000 submissions in one day. With a few exceptions, manufacturers and brands have broadly embraced the newly implemented regulations and the industry should be congratulated for the investment it has put into manufacturing and compliance testing.
But it will be a while before this level of compliance impacts one of the biggest challenges facing the sector at the moment, namely consumer sentiment: that consumers are still not convinced about the safety of the products on offer. The general public are still wary of the category, and in fact more people this year think that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as, or more dangerous than, combustible cigarettes than did the year before. This has got to change before the sector becomes accepted and goes mainstream.
While on the face of it, many companies have complied with this new regulatory landscape in Europe, this year has seen the emergence of some unintended consequences of regulation which we think will grow in importance over the years to come. “Shake and vape” is one of the regulatory swerves which neatly illustrates this. In many EU countries (but not all), the regulations implemented under TPD cover only nicotine-containing liquid, and do not apply to diluent and flavour. So “shake and vape” has developed to satisfy consumer demand for larger bottles of e-liquid. Separate the regulated nicotine-containing liquid which must be maximum 20mg/ml nicotine strength and 10ml volume from the other constituents and suddenly you have an e-liquid which can be any size (as long as the nicotine “shot” is compliant). Shake and vape has grown in importance, particularly through the vape store channel, and in some European markets is now the dominant product for the category. But it is not restricted to Europe, and similar products common in markets like Russia as a way to reduce the tax obligations in that country. The same is likely to develop in the US, as tax is applied to the category on a state level.
Over in the US, the year started with the industry in a very negative frame of mind, facing the prospect of demanding compliance under the Deeming Regulations. However, a surprise delay in their implementation announced by the FDA in July, although dramatically altering the plans of those companies who were ready to comply, has been broadly welcomed by the sector. The delay has led to a big turnaround in the optimism in the US market, with many vape shops now planning to expand or grow their operations.
Finally, what about our views at ECigIntelligence as to the future prospects for the sector? Well, the overview is that we are broadly very positive about any alternatives to combustibles; there is increasing consumer demand for products which are reduced risk, and we think there is an inevitable movement towards a better understanding, and therefore acceptance of, the category. But there will be lots of hurdles to overcome before it is fully embraced by the public.
We think there is growing consumer demand for micro-tank and pod devices, as evidenced by the success of JUUL and the launch of multiple new products in the US. The same pod products will need to be adapted for the regulatory regime over in Europe, but will likely be successful in more mainstream distribution channels such as convenience stores. Heated tobacco and hybrid (tobacco/e-cig) products are likely to grow in importance globally, but we expect them to grow the overall category rather than cannibalise existing e-cig users. And regulatory burden on the industry is going to grow and continue to be challenging as is develops in a different way from market to market.
This sector will continue to be controversial in the minds of the public and has a way to go before it becomes entirely adopted as a mainstream product category, but the year just gone has set it well on its way to that goal. We should bear in mind what an opportunity that presents, both in terms of commercial benefit to players in the industry and health benefits to society more generally.
Pamela Gorman: Run for the Barn….
Executive Director, SFATA
2018 ushers in a whole new world of opportunities as the new Administration’s focus on reducing burdensome and worthless federal regulations across the board offers relief to many industries.
With the pleasant surprise announcement by FDA Commissioner Gottlieb in the latter part of 2017 that the most devastating portion of the Deeming Rule would be delayed until 2022, the future strategies are not as limited. But, for a time, the industry seemed to flounder a bit with private (and unfortunately not so private) disputes on how best to approach this refreshing new mood with federal regulators. More of this will continue into 2018 without a doubt. One thing is for sure and that is this:
The several years many of us have spent educating, advocating, and appealing to everyone in our personal and professional networks has yielded a much stronger footing from which to launch our 2018 strategies.
While this is a forward looking piece, it cannot be stressed enough that the years behind us created a strong foundation on which we can now build in 2018. Ironically, the stress and struggles of the work in our rear view mirror has weakened the resolve of some, created enormous rifts among the relatively few who work to advance this industry’s interests, and spread financial reserves needed to take this effort to the next level frightfully thin.
It is my firm belief that we are perched on the edge of a new age in our regulatory oversight and this is NOT the time we can afford to lose steam. Rather, we need to focus and increase our energies and commit to funding this important task now of participating in the possible creation of a truly reasonable set of regulations.
There is a phenomenon with horses where they smell the barn and want to run to it. Even after a very long and tiring ride, the horse gets a burst of new energy and wants to gallop in, rather than cooling down, on the way home. 2018 needs to be our industry’s “run to the barn” to assure we make the most of the work that has come before. It is a year of opportunity that must be worked while the window is open politically to accomplish great things which could facilitate a long and prosperous run for this industry in America.
One thing is for sure, 2018 will put nerves to the test as the industry further consolidates and foreign companies, unhindered by the deeming regulation’s predicate date will innovate and eclipse companies in the U.S. who have had their products’ improvements halted by the Deeming Rule.
I have faith, though, and so should you. We can and will thrive again as an American vapor products industry. We just have to run for the barn.
Professor Marewa Glover, PhD: Vapers caught in a death roll with a crocodile-like public health movement
School of Health Sciences, College of Health, Massey University, New Zealand & Chair of End Smoking NZ.
The scientific, political and public debate for and against vaping and other harm-reduced alternatives to smoking tobacco will continue through 2018. Technological advance and increased prevalence of use of these products will also continue. The most important outcome will be improved health and increased longevity for the millions of people who change from smoking tobacco to vaping, Snus, iQos or other non-combustable nicotine products. These millions will be additional to the people who would have stopped smoking in 2018 anyway.
An important spinoff for science will be that it will become increasingly clear to more and more people in politics, academia, the media and the public, that the academy – the institutions charged with furthering knowledge, with conducting science, is being seriously undermined. True independent, ethical and valid science is being suppressed. Academics who stray outside the ‘approved’ field of topics or who oppose more powerful colleagues’ views are being silenced and excluded (e.g. from securing funding, receiving awards, from speaking at or even attending conferences, and from timely publication).
The new Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) will fund some of the work that Universities, Governments and their health funding bodies have deliberately quashed. Philip Morris International’s role in supporting the establishment of FSFW with a $1bn unconditional donation has been like a nail bomb going off. Continued attacks on the FSFW and anyone associated with it have been revealing in their nature. Further examples of unprofessional and bullying behaviour will expose incompetence, ignorance and abuse of powers that should rock the academy to its foundations.
Anyway, back to predicting what’s up for vaping, snus’ing and using iQos or other new products in 2018. New Zealand was set to legalise nicotine for vaping in 2018. The new Government has signalled it may not back the change because, spitefully, they must demonise anything their opposition did despite how many people get hurt. This is what anti-ecig lobbyists voted for and they have lost no time ramping up their calls for harsher laws so they can fine smokers, continue tax increases and stymie the mass exodus of smokers to vaping.
New Zealand’s pragmatism should win out, though much time and money will be wasted countering anti-ecig lies and fake studies for another year. Political pressure to reduce institutional racism will be key to achieving the law change. New Zealand, and Australia’s, Government policies are structured to serve the needs of the numerically and politically dominant white settlers. The indigenous people (the NZ Maori, and the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) remain culturally locked out of receiving equitable delivery of education, health and employment – unless they assimilate. Shockingly high smoking rates among NZ and Australia’s indigenous people act like Poe’s tell-tale heart. We were supposed to die off. Instead, our hearts beat hoping someone will hear, someone will find us cut up and pushed beneath the floorboards of society, someone will stop the ongoing injustice colonisation has visited upon us.
Supporting smokers, especially indigenous people who smoke, to switch to new harm-reduced products goes against the deeply ingrained one-size-fits-all tobacco control mantra: “Taxes worked for us, they will work for you too!” (Repeat ad nauseum for mass media, bans on smoking, plain packaging…). The truth is huge disparities in smoking by class and ethnicity exist in Australia and New Zealand. The current run of tobacco control policies have passed the point of optimum efficacy. While New Zealand is on the road to a harm reduction approach to smoking, Australia has a harsher tobacco control environment. 2018 will be another hard year for Australian smokers and vapers caught in a death roll with a crocodile-like public health movement intent on dragging them under.
Sarah Jakes: Welcome to the black market and workarounds…
Board Member, New Nicotine Alliance
2018 is a hard one to call, because in the UK at least, we’re in a sort of regulatory hiatus between full implementation of the TPD and the possibility of getting rid of the majority of it – but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on.
Public Health England will release their latest report and will stick to their guns over the relative risk of vaping compared to smoking and the usual suspects will be queuing up to call them shills.
The UK parliamentary Science and Technology Committee will spend months looking for new evidence on e-cigarettes and certain activists from California (in light of recent events maybe not!) and Australia (plus a minion or two) will attempt to insert themselves into that process. The war of words between pro and anti camps will become ever more fierce as the battle ground shifts to home territory.
As NCSCT (The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training) launch their new course on e-cigarettes more stop smoking services will become truly ecig-friendly and those who don’t will see ever dwindling numbers. The adoption of this consumer device based harm reduction approach will lead to consternation about ‘what to do about heat not burn’.
Heat not burn will gain ground in the UK, but not at the same rate as it has in Japan. Tobacco companies will throw their weight behind this technology and the products will start to compete with each other as they go more mainstream.
The Smokefree Foundation will find a way to ensure independence and transparency but some will still not be satisfied. The foundation will continue to be divisive, and accusations of conflict of interests will become the weapon of choice.
The snus ban will be found by the courts to be unjust, immoral and unlawful (ok, that one might be wishful thinking, but it will still be unjust and immoral). Other snus-like-but-not-snus products will continue to struggle to come on to the UK market because of short sightedness in regulatory policy.
Overall, regulators in the UK will continue to a relatively liberal view when it comes to e-cigarette policy, but within the framework of the TPD. With Brexit negotiations going the way they are, we may be stuck with that for the foreseeable future. Welcome to the black market and workarounds.
Mr. James Li: Mouth to Lung low wattage vaping, vape starter kits and pod systems will become increasingly popular
Founder and President of Innokin
In 2018 there will be continued evolution in vaping technologies and design. Advanced device functions will become easier to use, and there will be a greater focus on making devices aesthetically pleasing.
Upgrades in battery technologies will greatly speed up charging time and also improve battery safety. Innokin was excited to demonstrate advanced battery technologies at ECC 2017 and vapers can look forward to some incredible news this year that will push the boundaries of technological innovation. Harm reduction technologies like temperature control will become more accurate and easier to use.
Mouth to Lung low wattage vaping, vape starter kits and pod systems will become increasingly popular as they improve in quality and more smokers make the transition to vaping.
Vapers around the world will demand more high quality vaporizers and choose brands that support customers with strong after sales service. Enhanced tutorials and online support will greatly improve customers’ experience with new products and allow even more people to have a great vaping experience right from the start.
Research into ecigs will continue to scientifically prove electronic cigarette harm reduction and with growing evidence there will be more challenges to misinformation in mainstream media. Vapers who have successfully transitioned from smoking will grow in number and share their success stories online, and with the people in their lives.
We hope that more A-List celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy will encourage more international influencers to be proud of taking up vaping instead of smoking.
Even though some countries, like Australia, may continue to pursue vaping bans, the success of ‘Stop smoking’ campaigns in the U.K. and the position of New Zealand government on ecigs will convince more responsible governments to place the public good of their citizens first and recommend electronic cigarettes for smoking harm reduction.
Alex Clark: A new approach needed from the FDA
Chief Executive Officer, CASAA
Under the heading of “not quite a prediction; more of a call to action,” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to communicate a clearer message about the risks of nicotine. It is simply not enough for leadership at FDA and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) to address an audience of science, policy, and public health professionals with data and commentary about misperceptions of harm from nicotine. The FDA needs to have a clear statement posted on their website and produce a campaign to promote the truth. In lue of action from the FDA, CASAA and other THR organizations will take some responsibility for messaging to the public about the low-risks associated with smoke-free nicotine use.
On Monday, December 11th, the FDA announced a new campaign called “Every Try Counts” targeting smokers between the ages of 25 – 54. Although the statement contains no clear indication that the agency will promote specific low-risk tobacco and nicotine products to smokers, the theme of the campaign, “every try,” is inherently inclusive of all attempts at transitioning away from combusted tobacco. The campaign will likely include messages intended to “…help move those who cannot quit nicotine altogether onto less harmful products.”
Altria will likely receive partial or complete approval from the FDA to market their heat not burn (HnB) device, IQOS, as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) (you can read CASAA’s comment on the IQOS MRTP docket here). There is precedent for the agency granting a partial MRTP approval with snus products made by Swedish Match.
The vapor retail space will need to grapple with the introduction of IQOS to the market. Although it might seem like an obvious conclusion that vapor retailers would reject any entry by tobacco companies into the electronic nicotine delivery space, HnB products are best sold in a retail environment that already exists in vape shops. Like vapor products, the devices are complicated and require additional instruction and follow up from sales staff. Certainly there are things that sellers of both product types can learn from one another.
Modernizing the 2007 predicate date is already farther along than it was during the previous budget process. But even though the stand-alone version of the budget language (HR 1136) has bipartisan support, a vast majority of the bill’s co-sponsors are Republican. There is still, unfortunately, an opportunity for Democratic leadership to dismiss the language as just another Republican rider. At the time of this writing, it remains to be seen if politics will, once again, get in the way of a logical change to an antiquated tobacco law. Congress will have an opportunity to vote on a final budget package on December 22nd, but it is most likely that they will pass a
continuing resolution which pushes budget negotiations to January.
Even with the FDA announcement that the PMTA deadline for vapor products has been pushed back to 2022, the process is still out of reach for nearly all of the vapor industry. There is very little confidence that “clear and final guidance” from the FDA will do much to reduce the costs of compliance. Modernizing the predicate date for newly deemed tobacco products remains a vital first step and is not mutually exclusive of any other effort to change how nicotine products are regulated.
The discussion about flavors and the role they play in both smoke-free and combustible tobacco products will reach a fever pitch in 2018. The timing of the escalation in debate will somewhat depend on the success or failure of the Cole-Bishop language in the budget bill, but it is safe to say that we’ll be seeing more heated discussion regardless of any action by congress. This July, the FDA indicated its intent to issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding flavored tobacco products within the next two years. At the time of this writing, ANPRMs are already making their way to the White House and we expect them to be published soon.
State and Local Governments
Tobacco retailer licensing (TRL) is likely to be one of the more popular proposals at the state and local level in 2018. Through TRL ordinances, municipalities are raising the minimum purchase age, prohibiting certain activities, capping or reducing the number of licensed retailers in a particular area, and regulating/banning the sale of flavored products. Much like the trend in advocating for T21, where state governments fail to successfully pass harsh restrictions on tobacco and nicotine access, activists will turn to local governments for action.
Fraser Cropper: For the first time the industry can plan without closed eyes and a pair of dice
2018 marks what is reasonable to accept as the 10th anniversary of electronic cigarettes first being available in the UK. The UK vaping industry and vaping customers have come such a long way in this ten years. For those that have been involved across this period, particularly those attempting to run a vaping business, large or small, it has been an exhausting journey. Unlike most emerging sectors, and particularly remarkable for one that brings such transformative potential as vaping, our industry has existed and grown under an ever present fundamental risk of simply being able to continue to produce and sell our products. From the MHRA’s MLX 34 consultation in 2010, to the draft TPD issued just before Christmas 2012, through all its drafting and implementing stages operating a vaping business has been fraught with worry and risk. 2018 perhaps offers the first year when our sector can perhaps start to look forward with some optimism and with business plans that do not need closed eyes and a pair of dice to implement.
However, there remain many risks and obstacles to vaping being able to be universally accepted as the product it is. At the root of all potential and threat is smoking.
Vaping exists only because smoking continues as a legitimate product; legitimate in the sense that every government allows for its sale and the pestilence it brings, whilst simultaneously wringing hands in despair. Vaping provides the best counter to the smoking plague that society has ever had access to, yet its reputation is unfairly bruised and battered by direct unjustified assaults. This comes from media, as perhaps one would expect, and many otherwise trusted bodies, such as the WHO, and until just recently the BMA, who still equivocate or worse still use their positions knowingly or otherwise to sow seeds of doubt or misinformation. These vaping naysayers thankfully are becoming ever fewer and shriller, whilst the informed majority have been able to gain the insight and confidence what vaping is offering to the public health options vis a vis smoking cessation.
At the IBVTA we recognise and respect the shifts that have taken place across the last few years, and also the leadership that many have shown in the Public Health and academic arenas to carry the positive messages that industry and vapers are just not able to achieve. It is the recognition that vaping as a smoking cessation panacea is not going to be delivered solely if at all through conventional medical ‘prescription’, but that the private commercial sector has led and needs to in the future be enabled to continue the delivery and customer support that has provided such remarkable impact in the UK particularly. I believe that 2018 will be the year when we start to deliver routinely a coherent message of what vaping’s potential truly is and the independent sector’s role in its delivery
For this to be achieved, the vaping industry needs to show itself as being willing and able to be trusted to deliver product and complementary services to assist and play its part in the smoking cessation collective responsibility. Some parts of the UK independent vaping sector have lost sight of the simple truth about what our products are offering to the majority of users. Vaping to most is quite simply the product that has allowed them to either stop or reduce their smoking dependency. They see the product as this simple and use it as such.
To some, vaping is much more consuming, it is as much a hobby as it is a function, and that is ok as well vaping is available for all and can be used to fulfil so many needs – one of its fundamental virtues. However, I believe we over-state and over-emphasise this minority user relationship at our peril. Perhaps 2018, will be the year when vaping is redefined by our industry, in demystifying our offering, developing simpler products and refocusing on the core majority, who ultimately are, as crude as it perhaps may sound, the commercially relevant majority. This refocus of the proposition will also I think assist in the coherence of messaging and agenda with the wider stakeholders and create confidence further that the independent industry is maturing and accepting greater responsibility for its own sector’s future.
Back to tobacco though. Part of our messaging challenge is that there exists a crude conflation of nicotine with the smoking of combusted tobacco. Nicotine is often used as a synonym for smoking this is perhaps understandable when only smoking was available for its delivery. Now however, it is a real detriment to clear and correct messaging of the risk profiles of both products. This simple conflation and related opportunity for confusion is readily understood by tobacco businesses and often used to its benefit Heat not Burn (HnB) is a perfect example.
I see in 2018, not only PMI but all major tobacco businesses launching their own variant of HnB and continuing the misdirection that is already present with IQOS. One could contend that HnB would not have been developed if it were not for the challenge laid down by vaping. I believe it is a direct response to vaping’s impact on tobacco businesses’ sales not the finding of a conscience. We are unfortunately seeing HnB products and its agenda being used to confuse the space vaping has opened between vaping and tobacco. HnB is also currently not subject to tobacco excise. This is understood and we are seeing at the European level worrying early signs that this confusion of vaping and HnB, or more broadly nicotine containing products, is in danger of subject both to tobacco regime excise and potentially yet more stringent regulation. Therefore, 2018 will be a year where the IBVTA is contributing further and more effectively in holding to account UK regulators and any residual influence available and necessary within the EU to extract vaping once and for all from this Gordian knot. Ultimately, whilst likely not to be achieved in 2018, the journey will have started whereby in the UK at least, vaping will have commenced its ultimately inexorable journey to full and final release from the corruption of tobacco confusion. The objective be a regulatory environment that finally considers vaping as a standalone product group that needs to be enabled and supported to deliver its enormous still untapped potential.
Jim McDonald: 2018 Will the Real Smoking Alternative Please Stand Up
Editor, Vaping 360
2018 must be the year the independent vaping industry moves to define itself as something other than makers of useful harm reduction products. Vaping is an exciting market with millions of products, and the value of vaping doesn’t have to depend on being an alternative to something else. The independent vaping industry has been the source of all innovation in this space for years, but suddenly it faces a less-imaginative competitor with more money, more reach, and better connections with regulators and legislators.
At the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) last June, cigarette manufacturers dazzled the harm reduction crowd drawn to the annual Warsaw event. One drug policy expert claimed that “we all agree” that the most important innovation in the consumer nicotine space is coming from the tobacco industry. The presentation of the science behind Philip Morris International’s IQOS heat-not- burn product must have thrilled everyone who has never actually tried an IQOS — or ever smoked a cigarette.
PMI’s strategy of “selling” IQOS to the harm reduction and nicotine policy audience has certainly paid off. The company has gotten millions in free publicity, and has since spun that into the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, a non-profit supposedly dedicated to eliminating cigarettes.
But nobody seems to remember that the tobacco industry has never innovated anything before – unless you count filters. IQOS isn’t a very good product. It’s flimsy and fiddly, and smokers have to carry two of them if they plan on chain smoking. But PMI has put a lot of money into its development, and it’s the flagship of a fake cigarette armada that is about to invade the tobacco and nicotine landscape.
Will 2018 be the year the independent vaping industry stops playing defense, and learns to define itself as being the real innovator in smoking alternatives, and the deserving heir to the market position held by cigarettes for a century? Or will vaping become a niche practice, seen only in vape shops and forgotten by most, as the cigarette giants overwhelm the marketplace with their clunky smokeless cigarettes? Tune in next year for the answer.
Neil Humber: We will see the continued rise of all things squonk
Editor, E-Cig Click
Britain currently leads the way in the mainstream acceptance of e-cigarettes both politically and medically and 2018 should see the UK become the global beacon of reason in all things vape.
Let’s hope Governments in Australia – Canada and India take note but don’t hold your breath.
America has taken a ‘time out’ on the whole issue pushing an actual official stance on vaping to August 8 2022 – despite the FDA having a pro-vaping Commissioner.
I say stance more like an ostrich approaching a huge pile of sand – so in 2018 expect little if any changes stateside – apart from more flavour bans and the banning of vaping in public spaces in various states.
US vapers and the industry should also be keeping a close eye on Trump and how he fares in the next election given the Democrats are about as anti e-cig as you could get.
UK politicians brought vaping into the spotlight in 2017 with debates praising the use of e-cigarettes as the number one tool for smoking cessation.
Meanwhile lofty medical bodies such as Public Health England – the British Psychological Society and most recently the British Medical Association have all come out in differing levels of support [begrudging acceptance?] towards e-cigs.
I expect 2018 to see a coming together of relevant vape bodies – including advocacy groups such as the New Nicotine Alliance [NNA] – to pave the way for the scrapping of the EU enforced TPD and TRPR.
I say pave the way – as even now we in the UK are unsure when and indeed if we shall be 100% disentangled from the European Union.
In 2018, if the UK lays the groundwork for its own more sensible vaping legislation, this should encourage other countries to take another look at the benefits of vaping and rid countries like Australia of archaic and vehemently anti-vape laws.
Vape advocacy is in its infancy but groups in Australia – Canada – India and yes even the US have tough times ahead and need all the support they can get. Next year will also see a real growth of the Big Tobacco ‘heat not burn’ products which for me is a worrying trend. These devices are expensive right now – but I expect the costs to tumble dramatically making them more accessible.
Expect a rash of slick marketing – convoluted ‘positive’ research papers – and crowds of silver tongued lobbyists wooing politicians to get them ‘on-side’.
I shall keep a keen eye on how the media portrays these products – compared to the wildly inaccurate anti e-cig stories – especially given Big Tobacco’s s powerful sticky fingers are in most of their pies.
As to us the lowly vapers and what the coming year will be bring?
I guess we’ll continue to see the rise and popularity of all things squonk with hopefully less reliance on ‘cheap’ mechanical squonkers [a ticking time bomb?] and a lot more regulated devices. I say ticking time bomb because the market is flooded with these devices and I’m pretty sure most being sold to vapers with little if any knowledge of battery safety or ohms law – worrying.
We’ve also witnessed the resurgence of mesh replacing coils and this month saw the first ‘wafer’ so technology wise who know what we’ll be vaping on this time next year!
Back in the summer there was talk of new types of battery for powering our devices – that seems to have gone quiet. So maybe the coming year will see less cash spent on design departments and more spent on the technical side of vaping!
Speaking of design – one thing I do hope 2018 will see is the death of vape devices and tanks covered in those garish LED lights – hideous!
But then I am a grumpy old sod!
Ghyslain Armand: We need to draw a red line between tobacco and vaping…
After all these years fighting to finally get vaping recognized by the authorities as an innovative way to fight tobacco, I have the feeling that bad things are coming up again, mainly because the market is growing more than ever in Europe and that it attracts therefore more visibility.
Vapers managed to avoid a pharmaceutical approach in 2013 when they went in front of the European parliament in Strasbourg to protest. Since then, even if the road was long and tough, vaping has kept gaining in credibility, especially in UK and France.
But now big money is there and that the tobacco companies jumped into the business, by buying vape companies or trying to slip in this breach with their heat not burn products, our vape is threatened again by taxes or online sales ban, just to quote a few. We need, more than ever, to draw a RED LINE between vaping and tobacco.
Vaping is not smoking, vaping is even the opposite of smoking. This red line is the only weapon we have left to prove our good will, and we know that authorities are very sensitive to this position. Fivape in France or IBVTA in UK play a major role for that. We need to support them and be careful with who we are dealing with.
Louise Ross: A Transformational Year for Stop Smoking Services
Manager for Leicester’s Stop Smoking Service
More Stop Smoking Services will watch the brilliant educational films created by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, and will start to think seriously about how to translate the messages into practice, working with their commissioners who previously had been risk-averse. They will look to the pioneer services for guidance, and then try and figure out how to apply these principles locally.
Other services will continue to use the mantra of ‘we don’t know enough’ and ‘not until there’s a licensed product’ and these services will find that they have been left behind as smokers find their own solutions, missing out on what could have been a uniquely successful proposition: behavioural support, vaping and a little bit of NRT.
Tobacco Control Programme Lead Public Health England
Finally, we finish off with a short but sweet prediction from Martin Dockerell:
By working together public health, vapers and the vape trade will turn the tide on the supposed harms of vaping and even more smokers will become switchers.