What a year it’s been for the vaping industry. In the first half of the year it seemed nothing could stop vaping, with smokers switching from tobacco to electronic cigarettes in droves.
Then an outbreak of serious respiratory illness broke out in the USA. While the illness was caused by the use of Vitamin-E acetate in illicit cannabis products, early CDC reports conflated this with vaping. Sources tell me that this conflation was deliberate, and that many in the CDC were appalled at how the situation was handled.
The consequences were appalling. First, the failure to identify the source of the disease means that some consumers are still trying to purchase the very product that caused the disease. I’ve even heard of consumers walking into UK vape shops and asking for ‘Dank Vapes’, one of the products that has killed US cannabis users.
Secondly, there are increasing reports of vapers going back to cigarettes, believing smoking is better than vaping. Their fears are stoked by a torrent of junk science, such as the study which claimed vaping caused heart attacks – but failed to mention the heart attacks happened before the subjects started vaping.
That’s the past – what does the future look like? In an attempt to gain a snapshot, we’ve asked scientists, consultants, lawyers, manufacturers, activists and analysts from around the globe to contribute to our annual vape predictions post. Predicting the future is hard, but the shared knowledge and experience of our predictors offers an unparalleled insight into where the industry is, and where it might go in the future.
Counterfactual Consulting Limited, Ex Director of Action on Smoking and Health, Blogs at CliveBates.com
“The challenge for 2020 and beyond is to get back to facts and reality, and keep the hype, lies and moral panic in check.”
Journalist, Director of the Association of Vapers India (AVI)
“[An Indian vape] ban will create a black market for these products even as the current vendors exit or move to the Middle East.”
Editor of Planet of the Vapes, Trustee of The New Nicotine Alliance
“Tobacco harm reduction has a sliver of the funding and access that groups promoting fear and ignorance have. It is inevitable that we will face further coordinated demands to restrict flavours here.”
Editor Vaping 360
“For me there’s nothing more exciting or more encouraging for the future than the growing links between vaping and drug policy reformers and harm reduction advocates.”
Professor of Law, Experienced Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocate
“We will see malicious and ill-judged attacks on vaping reflected in diminished overall trust in government bodies and ‘experts’.”
“My vaping vision of 2020 for US vapers and the industry as a whole might be a little blurred right now, but the writing’s on the wall. The PMTA’s will have a major impact on the future of the vape scene in the USA and things will never quite be the same again.”
Professor Gerry Stimson
Public health social scientist and one of the founders of drugs harm reduction
“I hope 2020 will see a rise in consumer activism, legal challenges to bans, and growing recognition of the right to choose and the right to use. Harm reduction is a human right, including the right to access safer alternatives to smoking.”
British author and journalist
“No doubt the tobacco control zealots will be clapping their hands until the smoking rates and body count start to rise – and the funeral directors start clapping their hands.”
Managing Director, E-Cig Intelligence
“Beyond 2020, I am still optimistic about this sector. The long term prospects are good… but I’m afraid I don’t have much optimism for next year, it’s going to be pretty tough.”
Chair, New Nicotine Alliance
“It is important for UK vapers to be vigilant and be prepared for action, our government is currently supportive and regulation we have here is sensible, but it only takes a few politicians to destroy that.”
Clinical consultant National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training
“I predict that vast amounts of time will be spent fire-fighting – in health arenas, in politics, in the media and directly with consumers.”
Dr Atila Danko
GP, Medical director of Nicovape
“Slowly but surely more people in Government and Public Health will see that some sort of regulated, legal access for consumers has to be allowed to reduce the problems of the black market.”
Funder of Vaping Post and PGVG Magazine, Director of Beyond the Cloud
“Vapers and public health have a common enemy, yet the anti-smoking health organisations think we are part of the enemy. We need to change that perception.”
Tobacco Harm Reductionist | INNCO Outstanding Advocate of the year 2019
“Vaping prevalence will continue to rise in Africa. Improved understanding of the benefit vs risks of these new technologies, as well as higher quality and greater diversification will all contribute.”
Professor Marewa Glover
Scientist, Founder and director of the Independent Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking
“In 2020, we will see millions more people freed from the dysphoria caused by the constant (often exaggerated) bleating of public health – ‘if you do that you’ll die’ [repeat ad nauseum].”
Chief marketing officer, Innokin
“Upgraded temperature control technologies will improve flavor profiles and eliminate dry-hits and toxins created from accidentally burned coils.”
French tobacconist specialising in vaping, THR advocate. Ambassador for the #EUforsnus movement
“Internet sales are growing steadily and we should see a rise in the number of vaping retailers due to tobacco’s price hike and the ban of menthol cigarettes by May 2020.”
Clive Bates: The challenge is to get back to facts and reality
Director, Counterfactual Consulting Limited, Ex Director of Action on Smoking and Health, Full Bio
2019 was the year when the clouds turned black and the whole world was hit by a blizzard of bullshit originating from the United States. The resulting mess will probably take the next decade to clear up. As Jonathan Swift said in 1710:
“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect.”
So we will be living with some maliciously created myths for the coming year and beyond. Four in particular:
(1) conflation of the black-market THC related serious lung injuries with commercial nicotine liquids;
(2) the moral panic over America’s ‘epidemic of youth nicotine addiction’; (3) the idea that outright (e.g. India) or partial prohibitions (e.g. of flavours) are a good policy response, and;
(4) that reducing nicotine concentrations to EU levels will, somehow, prevent youth vaping.
Much of the tobacco control community – both academics and activists – have responded with barely concealed glee, as if a few deaths are just what’s needed to get back into the comfort zone of battling Big Vape, aka the new Merchants of Death.
We will not see truth simply but slowly reassert itself, like some law of nature. We will see more and more audacious attempts to use falsehoods to pursue an anti-vaping, anti-nicotine agenda worldwide. That will led by WHO at FCTC COP-9 (Nov 2020), drawing inspiration and cover from the warped discourse in the United States. With big money from the likes of Mike Bloomberg, the deceits will work their way into every corner of the world, until no-one knows what to believe or they accept what the American anti-vaping missionaries tell them (or buy them) to believe.
The challenge for 2020 and beyond is to get back to facts and reality, and keep the hype, lies and moral panic in check. The industry needs to explain itself better and stop making unforced concession to its detractors. Consumers need to tool up intellectually and organisationally for one hell of a battle. We need to grow the network of honest brokers in public health who see the massive opportunities of vaping and put the relatively trivial risks into proportion.
Silver lining? I expect some critical scrutiny of the behemoths of public health. Perhaps someone will finally ask, for example, the American Heart Association (turnover = $852m/year), why it publishes teaching materials that say: “There are many unfounded beliefs that vaping is safer than combustible cigarettes.”
Samrat Chowdhery: Indian ban will create a new black market
Director, Association of Vapers India (AVI) and vice president, International Network on Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), Full bio.
The Indian government took a misstep this year by banning the sale of e-cigarettes, which will have significant negative impact in 2020. As we have seen in comparable countries of Brazil, Mexico and Thailand, the ban will create a black market for these products even as the current vendors exit or move to the Middle East.
About a million people in India currently use e-cigarettes, by conservative estimates. Those who cannot or won’t access the black market will either attempt to switch to other lower-risk products like snus which is not banned, try DIY, or go back to smoking.
The prohibition excludes personal use, but unlike legislation for other restricted goods, does not define what constitutes personal consumption. This has led to abuse of the law – a Russian national was jailed for possessing 4 vape devices, while some others were fined hefty sums. This public harassment is expected to get worse.
A challenge could be filed in the supreme court with expectations of interim relief but the final verdict may not be delivered immediately as the law will be contested on constitutionality. A fundraiser is underway.
Meanwhile, mounting evidence for vapour safety and widening smoking prevalence gap between EU/UK and banned countries will increase pressure on the Indian government and we will continue efforts to raise awareness, encourage doctors to speak up and urge politicians and bureaucrats to be more reasonable.
There is a similar stress across Asia as clamour grows in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to ban e-cigarettes, possibly due to concerted action led by WHO officials and allied nonprofits like Bloomberg, The Union, SEATCA etc. ahead of the FCTC COP9 in November.
Dave Cross 2020 Prediction: Chaos
Journalist, activist, editor of Planet of the Vapes, Trustee of the NNA, and, according to the US surgeon general a bot. Full Bio.
2019 was an easy call; it was clear the anti-vaping organisations in America were gearing up for a massive attack on tobacco harm reduction and that was the way is (sadly) panned out. Bloomberg’s billions were put to use to fan the flames of fanaticism in the USA and further afield.
We can safely say that Bloomberg seemingly announcing his intention to run for President of the United States bodes ill for tobacco harm reduction. The man is using lives he cares little for as a political football to score easy goals in the quest for public opinion.
Even if he fails in this ambition, Trump has proven himself to be neither the friend of small businesses nor truth on vaping and will continue to side with those who benefit his personal and political goals. The recent backtrack over a flavour ban will not have an impact in the grand scheme of things as state after state will prohibit everything that threatens their tobacco revenue.
This will embolden those who have already put restrictions on vaping around the world and incentivise those considering doing so or going further. Again, this will be supported by those receiving money from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The one thing we could rely on in the United Kingdom was a strong cohort of politicians who had listened to reason and were using common sense to mitigate the harsher aspects of the Tobacco Products Directive. With the election still to happen at the time of writing, who knows how parliament will function on tobacco harm reduction in 2020? Hopefully the committees can operate as effectively as before because the British forces opposed to vaping are becoming more coordinated with their campaign of misinformation.
The NHS has made steps to get behind tobacco harm reduction but still needs to appoint someone to oversee it as requested. Pro-vaping organisations find themselves continually subjected to FOI requests as they look to discredit science using emotion. Tobacco harm reduction has a sliver of the funding and access that groups promoting fear and ignorance have. It is inevitable that we will face further coordinated demands to restrict flavours here.
We stand on a cusp.
Jim McDonald: Vaping advocates have some smart new friends
Editor of Vaping 360, board member of Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association. Bio
There is a lot of terrible news in the vaping world, and no doubt 2020 will bring more. But there are bright spots too. For me there’s nothing more exciting or more encouraging for the future than the growing links between vaping and drug policy reformers and harm reduction advocates.
Harm reduction and drug reform internet magazine Filter launched just over a year ago with tobacco harm reduction advocate Helen Redmond on staff. The publication has featured her extensively, and also published several other respected authors on vaping-related topics, including Indian advocate Samrat Chowdhery and New Zealand’s Marewa Glover.
Even more exciting, Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann, who spoke at the 2017 Global Forum on Nicotine and at this year’s London E-Cigarette Summit, says he’s “all-in” for vaping. Nadelmann is one of the most influential figures in the drug policy reform movement, and an authority recognized around the world. Hopefully, his involvement will mean that others follow, and they’ll bring with them some of the strategies that have shifted the debate on drug use over the past 30 years.
Why is this alliance great news for vaping? First, because Nadelmann, Filter, and their drug policy allies offer better access to influential people on the left, who will be more likely to listen when smart people they already trust are vouching for the messenger. The vaping world has struggled to find allies among Democrats, which is a shame because many of the groups disproportionately affected by smoking — the poor, union members, minorities, LGBTQ — are the natural constituents of that party.
The drug harm reduction activists bring a new set of arguments that vaping advocates desperately need in this moment of maximum “vapor madness”:
- Prohibition causes more harm than nicotine
- Harm reduction is where public health and human rights meet
- Science not stigma
- Meet people where they’re at
These are messages that can strike a chord with some of the powerful people we’ve so far failed to move. Frankly, “adult choice” and individual liberty have limited appeal, even if you believe they matter (as I do). They simply don’t work across the board because, as common conservative and libertarian talking points, they push as many people away as they pull in.
As vaping’s reputation has sunk lower and lower, to now become possibly the most stigmatized form of legal substance use in the country, we have continued to push back with the same ineffective arguments we used five years ago. We need some new ideas, and where better to get them than from the people who successfully decriminalized cannabis, then helped make it mainstream?
David Sweanor: Expect the credibility of anti-vaping groups to be destroyed
Lawyer, Professor and Public Health Advocate who has won awards for his role in tobacco control. Full bio.
In dynamic situations predicting the course of events is a perilous business. For anyone wishing to maintain some pride and retain some credibility I strongly advise avoiding such things. But, that said, here I go . . .
Few contemporary issues are as dynamic as vaping. We have seen dramatic technological advances in products, and the emergence of a range of undoubtedly massively less hazardous products that can replace cigarettes. We have watched as disruptive technology played a key role in knocking hundreds of billions of dollars off the market value of the big cigarette companies, witnessed countries achieving the most rapid reductions in cigarette sales ever seen as consumers got access to viable alternatives, and once again noted the effectiveness of empowering people to make informed personal health decisions.
But we have also, and particularly in the past year, seen a massive effort to destroy vaping. These efforts have been a textbook example of ‘the death of truth’. Science, reason and humanism are abandoned in favour of some typically-ill-defined ideological goal.
So, what will happen in 2020?
In a great many countries, we are witnessing the death of truth and the self-immolation of the credibility of a great many politicians, government agencies, UN bodies such at the WHO, major non-governmental organisations, scientific journals, previously trustworthy media outlets and a great many supposed ‘experts’. If a corporation engaged in such effective and lethal consumer deception, lawyers like me would drive them to bankruptcy. But in this case, and as I think we will start to see in 2020, it is the credibility of such groups that will be destroyed. Ongoing deception is exceedingly hard to pull off in the age of the Internet and social media.
What are the foreseeable consequences? I think there will be great anger. I say that as someone who learned as he was writing this that another four people he knows who had switched from cigarettes to vaping have, as a result of the manufactured moral panic, returned to smoking. Anger is a powerful emotion, and one accentuated by those social media forces. When people are angry, when they see the results of brazen misinformation that will lead invariably to preventable suffering and premature deaths, how do we expect them to feel about those who have perpetrated, or refused to counter, the fraud?
At a time where democracy is under threat, when there are hugely important and complicated issues facing humanity, the jettisoning of the credibility of the entities that should be a source of truth and rationality will become ever starker; the consequences ever more severe. We will see malicious and ill-judged attacks on vaping reflected in diminished overall trust in government bodies and ‘experts’.
So, as 2020 unfolds, I think we will see ever-greater challenges in getting the public to accept expert opinions. Not just on nicotine related issues, but on everything from vaccinations to climate change. It is a gift to the opponents of the principles of the Enlightenment, and just like the cancers vaping can prevent, we will begin to see the extent to which this credibility deficit will spread.
Neil Humber: E-Cig Click: The writing is on the wall…
Writer, E-Cig Click
To call 2019 vaping’s Annus horribilis is an understatement to say the least!
It certainly was a horrible year particularly for vapers in India – Thailand, Brazil and more recently the Philippines with vaping banned and in some cases criminalised.
And what about the state of the vape in America?
I wrote last year that 2019 could be the final act for vaping in the USA and at times it has come close to just that with a couple of states slamming down the ban hammer.
Uncertainty still surrounds exactly what’s going to happen regarding flavours and flavour bans, and Trump seems to flip-flop at every turn.
One thing’s for sure, the vape advocacy groups over the pond have a tough fight on their hands. However, the battles to stop an all-out flavour or total vape ban are pretty much just skirmishes in the wider war on vaping over there.
2020 is not only a Presidential election year; it also heralds the arrival of the sleeping snake in the grass – the Pre Market Tobacco Agreements or PMTAs.
In a nutshell every single device and e-liquid flavour on sale in the US since February 2007, will need an FDA approved PMTA or it will be removed from sale.
Manufacturers will need to submit a mind boggling mass of scientific documents about each product at an eye-watering cost of up to $460,000 for each item!
Only an act of Congress, or possibly a veto by whatever President is in the White House can change this, though given the current anti-vape climate one doubts that will happen.
Let’s hope Mike Bloomberg – the grand wizard and money man behind most of the anti-vape brigade organisations doesn’t get elected – that
would be disastrous!
My vaping vision of 2020 for US vapers and the industry as a whole might be a little blurred right now, but the writing’s on the wall. The PMTA’s will have a major impact on the future of the vape scene in the USA and things will never quite be the same again.
On a lighter note I mentioned in last year’s predictions I expected a few new vape devices to be able to link up to your cell phones. We’ve had two devices doing just that – a lesser known pod kit and one from Wismec.
I suggest any American vapers using one of these devices makes a call to their local and national politician and urge them to rethink the anti-vape sentiments coming from Capitol Hill and town halls across the country.
Have a vape and make that call – as we’ve seen from the #WeVoteWeVape campaign, politicians are starting to listen.
Fingers crossed they act as well.
Professor Gerry Stimson, 2019 – the year of the Great Vaping Crisis.
Steady progress towards tobacco harm reduction stalled, then reversed in many countries. THC and lung disease – a US-specific phenomenon – highlighted regulatory failure in the cannabis vape market. CDC’s inadequate response, and the conflation of THC vaping with nicotine vaping, proved a goldmine for anti-THR zealots, starting in the US and spreading to other countries.
Vaper-phobia re-runs the Reefer Madness playbook – the War on Vape grips the public imagination, just like the War on Drugs. All this fuelled by Bloomberg’s funding for tobacco control, and in the background some nasty harassment, intimidation and no-platforming of tobacco harm reduction advocates. Time for the good people in tobacco control and smoking research to call time on this foul behaviour.
It will be a rough ride for the next few years, with surveys already showing higher levels of uncertainty about the safety of e-cigarettes.
Yet we also have the success stories – vaping continuing to replace smoking in the UK, the rise of heated tobacco products in Japan with dramatic drops in cigarette sales, and the continuing success with snus in Sweden. In Norway smoking is fast disappearing amongst young people – only 1% of young women now smoke, instead they start and stick with snus.
I hope 2020 will see a rise in consumer activism, legal challenges to bans, and growing recognition of the right to choose and the right to use. Harm reduction is a human right, including the right to access safer alternatives to smoking.
Harry Shapiro: Tobacco control zealots will clap their hands… until the body count starts to rise
Journalist, writer, author, Director of Drug Wise. Blogs at Nicotine Policy. Full bio.
You could be forgiven for thinking the current mood music around vaping sounds too much like Chopin’s funeral march. The erroneous link between e-liquid vaping and deaths has given the anti-vaping lobby a new impetus of fake news that will no doubt carry on into 2020 with the WHO promising a new onslaught against safer nicotine products at the next COP-OUT meeting in November. Should governments continue along the track of banning everything, then vapers who abandoned smoking may well return to cigarettes.
Alternatively, vapers will be criminalised as they continue to seek out products in defiance of the law. Sound familiar? ‘The War Against Nicotine’. Wonder how that other war is working out? No doubt the tobacco control zealots will be clapping their hands until the smoking rates and body count start to rise – and the funeral directors start clapping their hands.
Tim Phillips: Expect a continuation of chaos
Founder and MD of E-Cig Intelligence. Full bio.
2019 has been a watershed year for the vaping sector globally. The “perfect storm” of the scandal surrounding the deaths of over 40 people in the US from vaping illicit and adulterated cannabis vaporizers has been confused with the ongoing debate about kids and flavoured nicotine vape products.
These two issues have been mixed together in the media resulting in consumers being left with the impression that kids are dying because of flavoured vapes. And regulators and politicians are responding with knee-jerk restrictions, imposing unilateral restrictions on flavoured vape products at a state and local level in the US, while many existing consumers are giving up vaping in the mistaken belief that it is more dangerous that smoking.
We have all heard anecdotal stories of this: I had my own when the brother of an American friend of mine told me at lunch recently that he had told his 22-year old son to give up vaping and go back to smoking because “at least smoking kills you slowly”.
We recently did some simple analysis of the restrictions which have been applied in state and local jurisdictions in the US, and by our calculations, through the local vape restrictions implied in 7 states and 8 of the largest cities in the US, more than 25% of the US population is affected by the recent regulatory developments resulting from this crisis. That doesn’t take into account the federal discussions currently ongoing between the White House and the FDA to restrict flavours on a federal basis, and the impact this episode will have on the way the FDA implements the pre-market approval process which has a deadline of May 2020.
If that wasn’t enough, the US crisis has had a global impact, and has been used to rationalise restrictions applied from South Korea to Israel. Two of the largest potential vaping markets in the world, China and India, have respectively restricted online sales and banned the category entirely and used the US crisis partially as a reason for doing so.
My predictions for 2020 are really a continuation of the chaos we have experienced in the second half of this year: fall-out from the vape crisis continuing to affect consumer confidence in the category with a reduction in the number of vapers and their use of vape products. Our estimates suggest that globally market size in the category will remain static through 2020 at $14.5bn, with a decline of 14% in the US (compared with expected growth pre-crisis of 20%), made up by some new markets coming online, particularly in Asia and Latin America.
The May deadline for the PMTA in the US will be a key watershed moment to watch out for as the approach taken by the FDA starts to bite. Will they approve multiple brands of vape products to enable a competitive US market to continue to operate, or will they apply the approach used in the approval process of new tobacco products and let very few through?
Beyond 2020, I am still optimistic about this sector. The long term prospects are good: as more data comes out to clarify the relative risk of vaping compared to combustible tobacco products, and consumers are given more confidence by a newly regulated US market that products on the market are safe, they will continue to switch out of combustible products and into vape or other reduced risk products. But I’m afraid I don’t have much optimism for next year, it’s going to be pretty tough…
Martin Cullip: 2020 is a political harm reduction exercise
Predictions last year were derailed by a quite astonishing upsurge in lobbying by anti-vaping denialists in the US. All bets are off as some powerful forces join hands and attempt to close off an incredible public health opportunity for a variety of self-interested reasons.
Huge sums have been channelled towards anti-vaping. Bloomberg’s $160m is a Godsend to those who live for grants rather than caring for the public’s health, so expect much more misinformation in 2020.
Flavour bans are on the agenda and we must be careful that the ignorant malaise doesn’t cross over the Atlantic. There are ominous rumours UK politicians have been hoodwinked by unmerited scare stories, so we may have to organise – like in the US – our own calls to action in the next year to remind policymakers that 3.6m vapers exist in the UK and will fight for what we know works.
Vapers did so in 2010 with the MHRA and again with the TPD from 2012 onward, both with success. We may, sadly, have to do so again. A review of the TPD is coming soon and the WHO will feed it with skewed ‘science’ as we approach their evidence-free COP9 in November next year. It is important for UK vapers to be vigilant and be prepared for action, our government is currently supportive and regulation we have here is sensible, but it only takes a few politicians to destroy that. Don’t ever be complacent enough to think the battle is won here. Be prepared to do your bit if rumoured threats become real.
Finally, Brexit. Much relies on how much the UK is permitted to stray from EU rules. The threat of stricter regulations via an update of the TPD is real, and it is vital that if the EU goes nuclear we have the option of a carve-out.
We should aim for convincing UK politicians that ditching 10ml bottles is contrary to environmental promises and also presenting get-arounds which are not easily regulated, that 2ml tank sizes serve no purpose, and that the 20mg upper limit is preventing smokers from realising the benefits of switching. From the NNA’s point of view, we would also like to see Brexit present an opportunity to lift the ridiculous and unmerited ban on snus which we must, damagingly, observe as a member state.
So, 2020 is a harm reduction year in my opinion – against counterproductive state interference fuelled by hysteria – we will have to work hard to stand still. I hope everyone is up to the challenge.
Louise Ross: Vast amounts of time will be spent fire-fighting
Pioneer of E-Cig friendly Stop Smoking Services. Clinical consultant for the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training. Vice chair of the New Nicotine Alliance. Full bio.
Well, I thought it would all be done by now, that we’d be on our way to a happier healthier world where fewer people die prematurely from smoking, and with a comfortable tolerance at worst (if the world couldn’t manage applause) for those who had switched to a far less harmful product.
Instead, we see from across the Atlantic a multi-million dollar bounty put on the ‘head’ of vaping, while combustible cigarettes are allowed to flourish.
We should not be defeatist, we have got to carry on being proud of the UK’s role in flying the flag for tobacco harm reduction. Lives depend on it.
Dr Atila Danko: The future of vaping in Australia
Experienced General Practitioner in Australia, medical consultant. Full bio.
A year ago it seemed that the worst for vaping in Australia was over. But then the perfect storm hit. The media started reporting that young people in the US were dying from vaping. At the same time, surveys revealed that the rates of vaping among youth in the US had dramatically increased. The fact that they were dying from vaping illegal THC products and not nicotine vaping was obscured for months, many say deliberately.
For those who hate vaping, it was like all their Christmases had come at once. They mobilised their forces, took their opportunity and lobbied hard. The true story was complex, but the media headlines were simple and told a deadly lie that was swallowed whole by the masses: the lie that it was nicotine vaping that kills, youth were taking it up in unprecedented numbers and extreme emergency actions had to be taken to save young lives.
It did not matter that this messaging not only harmed nicotine vapers who went back to smoking in droves, but also harmed THC users who did not associate the panic about vaping with the very products that were responsible: deadly black market THC cartridges laced with Vitamin E acetate.
The fight for smokers who need to access these life saving products has never been about the evidence: it’s always been about the politics, emotions and vested interests of those who are threatened by the disruption of tobacco. While there is still significant political pressure to push back against the most extreme ideas of the anti vaping lobby, their dominance is renewed and this is likely to remain so throughout 2020.
In 2020, I expect there will be further challenges ahead and further moves to restrict vaping even further, and there may be further limited success for the anti vaping forces.
Nevertheless, the numbers of consumers will slowly grow, leading to a resurgence in consumer activism. Slowly but surely more people in Government and Public Health will see that some sort of regulated, legal access for consumers has to be allowed to reduce the problems of the black market.
Ghyslain Armand: Big Tobacco will gain strength
It has probably been the most dramatic year for the vaping market worldwide. Everybody has been hit directly or not by the US crisis. If we look on the bright side, the vape community is getting stronger and knows more than ever that it is time to unite against the so called health organizations who see in vaping and nicotine in general, a new devil to eradicate.
Since I share my predictions with James here every year, I always repeat the same message : do not trust tobacco companies. These companies have no morality, no ethics and don’t care AT ALL about your health. We need to show the world we are their opponents. We all know how this will end if we don’t draw a red line between them and us. Governments and health organizations need to understand we are fighting tobacco addiction.
My predictions go unfortunately in the wrong direction, with Big Tobacco gaining strength in an over regulated market to choke independent players, and protect governments’ tax revenues. It’s ten years of fight that goes up in smoke.
The most famous US nic salt pod will lose a lot of money (good for them), heated tobacco will become more popular by force, and all the variety of products that all helped us to quit smoking will dramatically decrease. I’m afraid that whatever the product they will choose, cigarette combustibles, heated tobacco or vapes, smokers’ money will always end up in the same pocket. Ecigarettedirect.co.uk is an independent company and I strongly support that. Congratulations to its team for these long years of ethical business. Long life to it!
It has probably been the most dramatic year for the vaping market worldwide. Everybody has been hit directly or not by the US crisis. If we look at the bright side, the vape community is getting stronger and knows more than ever that it is the time to unite against the so called health organizations who see in vaping and nicotine in general, a new devil to eradicate. Vapers and public health have a common enemy, yet the anti-smoking health organisations think we are part of the enemy. We need to change that perception.
Joseph Magero: Tobacco harm reduction will continue to spread in Africa
Chair of the Campaign for Safer Alternatives, Recipient of the Oustanding Advocate award at GFN Warsaw. Blogs at Medium.
2019 has seen a lot of progress in Africa. Seychelles lifted their ban on e-cigarettes , different safer nicotine products (including IQOS) have been launched and there is a growing awareness of vaping. Smokers across the region are finding solutions for themselves, and we are witnessing a steady growth in the vaping industry in Africa, led by former smokers, with more affordable products becoming available in the market.
My prediction for the coming year is that vaping prevalence will continue to rise in Africa. Improved understanding of the benefit vs risks of these new technologies, as well as higher quality of the products and greater diversification will all contribute.
Focus on Africa will continue to grow as tobacco control advocates in the region, backed by Tobacco-Free Kids, shift their attention to reduced risk products. The F.C.T.C COP 9 also casts some uncertainty, with policy recommendations likely to be unfavorable for reduced risk products. For tobacco growers, however, I expect reduced demand in tobacco leaf due to a decline in combustible cigarette sales worldwide.
Vaping & tobacco harm reduction is a relatively new approach in Africa, but slowly gaining ground despite some negative media coverage. Expect more disruption on the continent in 2020.
Professor Marewa Glover: The vaping movement will become more powerful
Researcher, New Zealander of the Year Finalist, Founder of Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking. Full bio.
It feels surreal to be predicting what’s going to happen regarding vaping in 2020. One of my favorite TV programmes when I was younger was Beyond 2000. I couldn’t wait for the high-tech future they profiled to get here. I’m also amazed at times that I’m still alive to see the science-fiction type futures imagined by past authors become reality. Like many people who had a lot of ‘fun’ in their younger days, which back then often involved a lot of smoking, drinking, parties and clubbing, drunk driving, late nights and junk food galore, I didn’t expect to still be here. I live a ‘healthy’ life now but there’s always that fear that some disease caused by smoking will still take me out.
Many long-term smokers expect a smoking-related disease to pop up any day. Or more fatalistically, a heart attack or stroke, like a guillotine, will suddenly cut their life short. It’s actually a very stressful worry to have hanging over you every day, especially if you have children you want to be around for.
Last year, I correctly foresaw that vapers would become more vocal and powerful in advocating for their rights to vape. Social media has been flooded with testimonials. Regardless of how long people had smoked, many feel “saved”. For some, their life has been transformed. The benefits they speak of go beyond just physical health improvements.
Vaping has enabled people to tell the Grim Reaper (that we in tobacco control imprinted on their psyche) to fuck off! Vaping has given people hope that they now will get to see their kids grow up. They’re now living with a renewed passion. For me, this has been one of the most amazing consequences of vaping technology.
In 2020, we will see millions more people freed from the dysphoria caused by the constant (often exaggerated) bleating of public health – ‘if you do that you’ll die’ [repeat ad nauseum]. Unburdened and re-energised, vapers will become even more powerful in fighting back against the unfounded, unjust restrictions and bans on vaping and snus. I think also (at least I hope), many of the vaping advocates will stick around to make sure that smokers among the most marginalised groups in the world will also get access to this transformative technology.
Paul Hare, Innokin: Advances in technology will improve the vape experience and safety
Chief marketing officer at Innokin Technology.
2019 has been a good year for the evolution of vaporizer technologies and also challenging with the increased negative public perception of vaping for tobacco harm reduction.
The Vitamin E Acetate additive to THC vape liquids caused lung injury and death. The negative association with vaping resulted in fewer smokers adopting vaping and an increased belief by the general public that vaping is more dangerous than smoking.
Recovery from this onslaught of negative news will require the promotion of scientific testing, improved industry quality control and the professional endorsement of public health professionals and governments. The continued perception in America of vaping being more harmful than cigarette smoking will continue unless there is direct support by the
FDA into scientific study and the promotion of Tobacco Harm Reduction
and vape education.
Regulations, prohibitive taxation and commercial discredit are the three main problems facing ecig adoption and the transition away from cigarettes. The prohibitively expensive and complex PMTA process will restrict the majority of non-tobacco companies from legal access to the American market. The majority of the independent vape companies will shift their focus to vape friendly markets like the U.K., Europe, Canada and New Zealand.
Vaping technology will continue to evolve and improve in 2020 and more consideration will be given to the needs of smokers. The success of the Innokin Zenith and Z-Coils demonstrates that flavors are important to vapers and the love of flavours continues to grow. E-liquid can be compared to the ingredients used to prepare dishes in a restaurant; great coils and devices are essential to achieving the best flavour and experience.
Manufacturers will focus on building better devices that are easy to use, offer improved flavours and a consistently enjoyable and leak-free experience. Technologies may be introduced which provide accurate nicotine dosage control and also instruct the user on when coils or pods require replacement.
Upgraded temperature control technologies will improve flavor profiles and eliminate dry-hits and toxins created from accidentally burned coils. There will be an increased focus on optimized pod airflow which will improve flavours and vapour and decrease the amount of power required by coils. The USB-C standard will become more popular as it provides higher Amp charging and the port has less chance of being damaged by user error. More testing will be completed on Pod emissions and new types of materials will be used for pods. Responsible companies will develop new methods to prevent youth from buying vaporizers and vaping nicotine.
Scientific research will continue into the short and long term effects of vaping and international regulatory authorities will be more focused on the composition of eliquids and the reduction of metals and toxins in e-cigarette emissions. A standardized database of dangerous and unhealthy compounds which cannot be vaped will be created and shared.
In 2020 the large independent vape manufacturers will work more closely together on improving public relations and the support of further scientific research into vaping and tobacco harm reduction.
Zhenyi Zhou: Reason to be optimistic in Europe
French tobacconist specialising in vaping, has encouraged hundreds of tobacconists to embrace vaping. Ambassador for the #EUforsnus movement. Full bio.
France has also been impacted by the negative press coming from mostly illegal THC liquids in the USA. That being said, surprisingly, we have received the “support” of the Health Minister stating the French market is already well regulated (as of the rest of Europe through the TPD). Internet sales are growing steadily and we should see a rise in the number of vaping retailers due to tobacco’s price hike and the ban of menthol cigarettes by May 2020.
As for Europe, I remain optimistic as well since big investments are being made by hardware manufacturers to cater the needs of the general population towards easier and more reliable devices. At the same time, there is a rise of professionalism among the liquid manufacturers with higher standards being pushed by them (such as Afnor). Outside of the UK, France, Germany and Russia are among the largest vaping markets and very likely, others countries will be following suit. I hope the next TPD won’t ban Internet sales, which could not be a concern for the UK since the Brexit is coming. As for Brexit in itself, while I don’t like it, I don’t see a direct correlation with the vaping market for Europe.
Once again, I hope you will join me in offering a huge thank you to all our predictors for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts with us.