Vape Predictions 2021: Expert Roundup

Vape Predictions 2021: Expert Roundup

When I first launched a vape predictions post in 2012, I had no idea what a mammoth post this would end up being.

I did consider shortening it considerably this year and asking fewer people to share their predictions. But that would lose the invaluable perspective I think we can gain when people from diverse fields, countries and perspectives look at the current state of vaping.

This post is structured differently, however. I’ve broadly grouped people by specialism. If you don’t have the time to read the whole post, this should allow you to navigate to the section most relevant to you. I’ve also created separate posts for longer predictions, and linked out to them from an excerpt.

To ensure this is a wide-ranging post, I’ve suggested different themes to different predictors this year. So if someone just talks about technology and vaping, and not activism, for example, it’s not because they don’t care – it’s because they have kindly stuck to the themes I have asked them to discuss. Once again you’ll find a wide geographic coverage, with experts from North America, Asia, the UK, Europe, New Zealand and Africa sharing diverse perspectives.

As always, I’d like to say thank you to our contributors for taking on the impossible task of trying to peer into the future. 2020 has certainly proved the ability of reality to flummox us with the unexpected, but if anyone has the ability to shed some light on the coming months, it’s the collected insights of this group of experts.

E-Cig Analysts

Expect increasing pressure on vape businesses

José Becerril, Market Analyst, Drinks and Tobacco, Euromonitor InternationalShane MacGuill, Senior Head of Tobacco Research, Euromonitor International

José Becerril, Market Analyst, Drinks & Tobacco, Euromonitor International
Shane MacGuill, Senior Head of Tobacco Research, Euromonitor International

In 2021, the ongoing negative effect of last year’s vaping crisis will be amplified by the impact of the Covid 19 crisis and the increased fragmentation in cigarette alternatives, leading to sluggish volume sales globally and further concentration in the vaping competitive landscape.

E-vapour has come under sustained perceptual and regulatory pressure and this is unlikely to ease in the near term. There is a real risk of the spread of flavour restrictions and the expansion of restrictions on public use which will limit the growth potential of the industry.

Stricter requirements in terms of product safety compliance and the potential for desperate government to levy taxation on e-vapour to recoup rising public expenditure associated with Covid 19 is also expected to limit the competitiveness of smaller players and prevent the entrance of new ones in an increasingly concentrated and tobacco player-dominated market.

The category will also come under competitive pressure from a range of increasingly viable (and in the case of heated tobacco and snus in the US, MRTP-ed*) cigarette alternatives. Tobacco-derived nicotine pouches are the only nicotine delivery mechanisms to unambiguously benefit from the impact of the pandemic and 2021 will be a breakthrough year for this category. CBD (delivered through pouches, vapour and otherwise) will also take share away from nicotine e-vapour through the coming 12 months.

However, out of disruption comes reinvention and we believe that e-vapour players will once again strive to align industry innovation and practices with both shifting consumer priorities and public health goals.

*Modified Risk Tobacco Product

Vaping in 2021 and beyond

Tim Phillips, Managing Director, E-Cig Intelligence

Tim Phillips, Managing Director, E-Cig Intelligence

I think most people would be keen to see the back of 2020 and head into 2021 without looking back. Yes, lockdown and the economic hardship which many in the vape sector have experienced has been bad. This has affected manufacturing but particularly vape stores which in many parts of the world have not been spared shutdown as “essential services” and have had to close for long periods this year.

But 2020 also brought the full impact of the US lung crisis across to the UK and European markets and gathered lots of media attention over here, causing existing vape consumers to start to doubt the safety of the products they use as well as putting many newbies off from starting. In the US, the deadline for vape products to submit an application for approval to be sold in the US (the Premarket tobacco application or PMTA) passed in September, with little in the way of further clarity on how the regulatory landscape will shape over the coming months. Reputedly the FDA received thousands of applications.

Read full prediction here…

Charities/Non-Profit/Activists

Brexit, EU and Public Health England

Clive Bates, The Counterfactual, Ex Director Action on Smoking and Health

Clive Bates, The Counterfactual, Ex Director Action on Smoking and Health

I hope that Britain will move away from EU constraints on vaping and other low-risk technologies once the transition period is over on 1 January 2021. I joined New Nicotine Alliance in calling for use of those freedoms to contribute to the new English Smokefree 2030 goal.

However, I still doubt it will happen for two reasons. First, the price of divergence from EU regulation, in general, will be high and reserved for areas where necessary and clearly beneficial. Second, any divergence with the EU will emphasise differences within the UK – the difference between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, creating the famous border in the Irish Sea. So I think we may end up with the right to diverge, but choose not to exercise the option.

For vapers and the vaping industry in the European Union, Brexit is all bad. The UK voice in the European Parliament and Council is no longer in the room, and UK vaping activists no longer have direct standing. The nightmare is the EU, unconstrained by UK influences, passes a more restrictive Tobacco Products Directive, but for wider political and economic reasons, UK continues to comply with it, having had little say.

EU Regulations

I’d be worried about broad flavours bans, ingredients regulation, plain packaging, restrictions on online sales and marketing. Also, possibly more onerous approval processes.

The Impact of PHE being dissolved on attitudes towards vaping

I’m not worried about this. A new agency will take shape next year to take forward all the things that PHE does that are not to do with infectious diseases. I’d see the abolition of PHE earlier in 2020 as a political play that suited the government at the time it did it, rather than a fundamental shift in attitude. There will probably be some pruning, but the government is committed to a Smokefree 2030 goal and will need some sort of agency to drive that forward.

Taxes

I doubt vape taxes will become an issue in the UK, at least for now.

Apathy amongst vapers is the biggest threat

Martin Cullip, Chair, New Nicotine Alliance

Martin Cullip: Chair, New Nicotine Alliance

Last year I said that 2020 is a harm reduction year against counterproductive state interference fuelled by hysteria and that we will have to work hard to stand still, expressing a wish that consumers are up for the challenge.

Of course, the year did not work out as planned and everything has been postponed, but crucially not gone away.

So, we still face the twin threats of a review of the EU TPD and a vicious assault from the WHO FCTC in November 2021 at COP9. Both will refer to each other and could cripple the safer nicotine market in the UK if consumers do not stick up for themselves.

What I fear most in 2021 is that vapers, especially, will not. Apathy is our biggest threat. Far too many prominent online voices are dismissing the TPD review as if it is irrelevant, but it is certainly not. In a chamber debate in the House of Commons in November, it was revealed by a Minister that the TPD will still apply unless the UK diverges and at time of writing we have not seen that yet. Vaping is a tiny part of UK policy and when bartering with the EU for a deal it is not a hill many politicians want to die on, so we as consumers must force them to understand that this is important.

The EU was bad enough at formulating policy with the UK’s trust of vaping around the table, but any discussion post-Brexit takes place without our representatives handing out common sense and we could be bound by the EU’s decisions in the future.

There is a real risk to UK consumers of having flavours banned, blacklists of ingredients – or even whitelists of which are allowed – an attempt to ban open systems as dangerous, and vaping to be treated the same as smoking in every respect including where we can vape, taxation and plain packaging. This is what the EU TPD review is moving towards right now and it needs to be fought. We are not immune to any of it unless vapers contact their elected representatives and object in the strongest terms.

The UK’s Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) is being reviewed in May 2021. We have an opportunity to not only ensure our country’s world-leading approach is protected, but also to improve it by persuading policymakers to lock in harm reduction as a public good for the future.

The NNA has written to the Department of Health and the Number 10 Policy Unit with proposals to diverge from TPD restrictions post-Brexit and it has landed where we hoped it would. We cannot do it alone though; consumers have a big role to play in support in the new year so please do so.

Reasons for optimism in the USA

Michelle Minton, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Michelle Minton, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about e-cigarette policies in 2021. The fact that the FDA is granting modified risk claims for certain products demonstrates an implicit recognition of the harm-reduction principle – that lower-risk products play a role in saving lives and improving public health. Moreover, as the Agency approves additional products, it will make it more difficult for anti-nicotine hardliners to justify opposition to reduced-risk products to leaders in the U.S. and around the world.

America’s resounding Election Day rejection of the drug war may also prove a crucial opportunity in the next year. If we can separate nicotine from combustible cigarettes and Big Tobacco, it should become clear that legalization and regulation—not prohibition—is the only just and science-based approach to nicotine vapour.

A breakthrough is possible – and it could involve Big Tobacco data

David Sweanor, Professor and award-winning public health advocate

David Sweanor, Professor & award-winning public health advocate

It might well be that a major role played by the issue of tobacco harm reduction is that it makes the distortions of facts in contemporary politics seem relatively less demented. I am hoping that we can aspire to more in 2021.

So, one fearless/demented prediction is that we will get a breakthrough that, though hugely important and uncomplicated, has eluded us since the dawn of the modern era of lower-risk alternatives to cigarettes. That being, that Big Tobacco will by choice or coercion (most likely the later) reveal its sales and consumer marketing insights on the willingness and ability of people who smoke to switch to non-combustion alternatives.

The case for a risk reduction orientation is based on the twin pillars of there being less harmful ways to do something, and that people will indeed engage in this substitution in numbers sufficient to justify action. That there are huge differences in risk between cigarettes and various non-combustible alternatives is beyond doubt to anyone with a working knowledge of science and a willingness to avoid, to use an Obama phrase, “truth decay”.

But the opponents of a pragmatic public health approach cling to the view that these lower-risk products are not being, and will not be, adopted by enough people to justify deviation from an abstinence-only agenda.

There is plenty of evidence that change can and does impact the nicotine market, but as with the science on risks, there needs to be a tsunami of quality data to obliterate the opposition. Naturally, Big Tobacco has or can easily acquire such information, just like any other giant consumer product companies. Those companies know what happens to cigarette sales and smoking prevalence as alternatives enter markets, and their consumer research shows how many smokers could readily become smoke-free. They have been exceedingly reluctant to share that information, but the bits that come out have been like the gold nuggets in a creek downstream from a motherlode. We need that motherlode. As much as it risks further undermining the already depressed value of cigarette companies by showing the extent to which disruptive technology can rapidly replace the cigarette market, I think it is going to start coming out. It will also need to be available in ways that surmount the understandable reluctance to believe anything these companies say.

The companies cannot indefinitely delay releasing what is known, and their credibility and long-term viability ultimately require a choice between obfuscation and cooperation on reducing the risks of their products. Their cooperation, whether coerced or otherwise, is likely to happen in 2021, and when it does their ability to withstand the creative destruction of the cigarette business will be a good topic for predictions for future years.

Tobacco Harm Reduction is growing in Africa

Joseph Magaro, Chairman, Campaign for Safer Alternatives

Joseph Magaro: Chairman Campaign for Safer Alternatives | INNCO Outstanding Advocate of the year 2019

Electronic cigarettes were steadily gaining popularity in 2019, and then came along COVID-19, a respiratory illness that attacks the lungs. E-cig use slowed down due to W.H.O advisory against the use of vaping devices citing the risk of infection from the hand-to-mouth action of e-cigarette use. Some countries such as South Africa went ahead and temporarily banned the sale of tobacco products which sadly included safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes and snus, in order to curb the spread of the virus.

This year has also been challenging for the vaping industry in Africa, due to counter-campaigns from tobacco control organizations. Even as vaping continues to gain popularity, there have been well-orchestrated campaigns by tobacco control organizations spreading misinformation on safer nicotine products, which has been counterproductive.

The good news is that the number of tobacco harm reduction advocates is on the rise on the continent, which has been signified by the new harm reduction advocacy groups setting up in various countries this year.

The use of electronic cigarettes has continued to grow rapidly especially in North & South Africa. Going by recent developments here in Africa, such as the introduction of nicotine pouches and heat-not-burn products in some African markets, I believe safer nicotine products will mainly be dominated by Big Tobacco, but independents will have a role to play.

Even as regulations are set to be affected in some countries this coming year, 2021 will see an increase in diversity of safer nicotine products on the continent.

On Brexit and Public Health England

Louise Ross, ex Leicester Stop Smoking Service, board of the New Nicotine Alliance

Louise Ross: ex Leicester Stop Smoking Service, board of the New Nicotine Alliance

What should we expect for tobacco harm reduction in the U.K. in 2021? There is an opportunity to break away from the EU restrictions as the post-Brexit strategy develops, and consumers should make themselves heard, via the New Nicotine Alliance. We need to look closely at what is in the new Tobacco Plan, expected after April 1 when Public Health England, a world-class leader in harm reduction, is replaced by a new as-yet-unknown structure.

Will the passion of the former team live on, supporting the drive to get smokers to switch to non-combustible products, or will the themes of harm and prohibition that we see in so many other countries become the norm here? We cannot afford to be complacent. Making sure that vaping displaces smoking is the priority for 2021.

Consumers face an uphill battle

Samrat Chowdhery, President INNCO (International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations)

Samrat Chowdhery, President, INNCO (International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations)

The first year of the decade upended life across the globe. It was also a year of extreme contrasts – while harm reduction measures (masks, social distancing etc.) came to be widely preferred over lockdowns, the pandemic gave rise to a more virulent strain of prohibitionism in tobacco control with calls for new restrictions and more stringent opposition to risk reduction.

Consumers of nicotine and tobacco products had a hard year, dealing with ad hoc shutdowns, sale bans and the resultant (often counterfeit) black markets, higher taxes, more stigmatisation and generally being dragged into the pit despite feeble evidence of carrying a greater risk of contracting the virus.

The Bloomberg network also launched attacks on consumer advocates and organisations through scientific literature in a bid to delegitimize them by drawing flimsy connections with the tobacco industry. This is worrisome since policies framed by excluding the people whom they are meant to serve, are bound to fail and will lead to unintended outcomes.

The coming year could see these efforts intensify, further scapegoating of users buoyed by the need felt by governments to do something, anything, to show strong measures are being taken for pandemic control. At the same time, consumers are becoming more engaged and organised in pushing back against narratives that go against their interests, chief among them being their right to access less harmful alternatives.

More instances of ‘money for policy’ like in the Philippines, where Bloomberg groups have been found funding state departments pushing anti-vaping policies, are likely to come to light, given similar methods are used in other developing countries, including in India where the vape ban rolls into its second year even as tobacco-related cancers continue to rise.

There are signs that the war on tobacco could fully morph into a feckless war on nicotine as opposition to tobacco harm reduction is expanded to include non-tobacco alternatives such as oral pouches, blocking out any advancement that makes nicotine consumption safer.

The ongoing TPD revision and COP8 in November will be major focal points of activity for both tobacco control and consumer advocacy.

Scientists

Vape science and trends for 2021

Prof. Riccardo Polosa, Director, Center of Excellence for the acceleration of Harm Reduction

Prof. Riccardo Polosa, Director, Center of Excellence for the acceleration of Harm Reduction

  1. The state of scientific research will continue to advance because many new studies are being published every month. These studies will then be collated into reviews that give a “weight of the evidence” type of argument. No one would suggest that vaping is 100% risk-free, but the important focus is to compare vaping to cigarettes, not just to examine the risks of vaping in isolation.
  2. The latest Cochrane review has come out, a very highly respected publication and source of information. They have stated that there is “moderately-certain” evidence of vaping as an effective aid for cessation. This newly published review will encourage more interest in vaping for cessation among clinicians because it is a trusted source in the medical community. The publication could also lead to more funding on research on vaping for cessation.
  3. Heated tobacco products are rapidly becoming popular with consumers and in 2021 they will become almost as popular as e-cigarettes in terms of sales. Oral nicotine products will also become more visible in 2021 and more smokers will be aware of this lower-risk alternative.
  4. While there is no reason to believe that the anti-e-cigarette bias in tobacco control will not change much in 2021, people trying vaping will find out from their own experiences that it can help them stop smoking. Smokers tend to have other smoking friends, so as one person talks about how vaping has helped them, their friends and acquaintances will give vaping a try. This is a “bottom-up” movement from users, not a top-down program from public health.
  5. In 2021 I expect more consumer interest in “mix your own flavours” in response to current and potential flavour bans. The vape companies should fill this need, before consumers start experimenting with baking flavourings (and that is risky!).
  6. Hopefully the 2019 EVALI outbreak in the US will scare people away from the black market. Unfortunately, the media still has not absorbed the facts, that EVALI was from vitamin E acetate, not commercial vapes.

Professor Marewa Glover, Director of the independent Centre of Research Excellence, Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking

Professor Marewa Glover, Director of the independent Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking based in Auckland, New Zealand

One slogan from my radical feminist past seems highly relevant when contemplating whats in store for vaping in 2021. “The personal is political” when applied to vaping, reminds us that an individual’s personal decision to switch from smoking tobacco to vaping has political implications.

Imagine if everyone who smokes suddenly stopped. How would governments have to change if they lost the not-insignificant tobacco tax income they extract from (disproportionately lower income) communities? What would governments, without welfare systems, do if their hundreds of small farm holders who grow tobacco and their thousands of small family run stores who stay afloat because of tobacco sales suddenly closed because every smoker switched to vaping? Almost 6 million Indian households economically rely on their women rolling beedi during the day in their homes. How would the Indian government replace that income for them?

Now think – what would happen if the 6.2 million people dying each year from a smoking-related disease didn’t die?

Read the full post…

Bloggers/Journalists

Elections, PMTA and Outlook for the Independent Vape Industry

Brent Stafford, Executive Producer, RegulatorWatch

Brent Stafford, Executive Producer, RegulatorWatch.com

The Impact of the US election on vaping

As of this writing, the U.S. Presidential election is still undecided. But, in all likelihood 2021 will usher in a Joe Biden presidency. With it, I predict, will be increased turmoil and pain for the U.S. vaping industry. Why? For one, the Democratic party is perennially hostile towards vaping. States with the most draconian vaping regulations are led by Democrat governors and the Democrats nationally reap political benefit from the war on vaping.

Second, vaping prohibition is inspired by progressive idealism and is powered by public health’s penchant for controlling how people live their lives. Public health was born from the Progressive Movement and the progressive home is the Democratic party. It’s hard to believe in 2021 a Democratic president would not use all available executive power to ban vaping. After all, it’s an easy win: “Save the children” while punishing those deemed unworthy.

Finally, during the campaign Joe Biden publicly pledged to ban vaping, if that is the advice provided to him by the experts: experts Joe Biden will be hiring. So far, Biden’s potential picks do not bode well for vaping. The most important post is the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA and CDC. Floated as a top prospect for HHS Secretary is Obama’s former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy. Murthy is the very official who launched the U.S. Government’s assault on vaping with the release of the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults.

How will the PMTA affect vaping in 2021

It’s difficult to assess how the PMTA process will unfold in 2021. I believe it’s safe to say that under a Biden presidency very few decisions will be made in favour of the U.S. vaping industry. I would expect non-profit health groups to increase pressure on FDA to implement robust enforcement of the PMTA process. This would include fines and potential legal action for those companies operating outside of the PMTA pathway. For those that are under PMTA review, expect no quarter and a rough go.

It’s probable the Democrats would not annihilate the U.S. vaping industry entirely. Instead, they would bring it to heel and profit off of it as the government does under the master settlement agreement with Big Tobacco.

Outlook for independent vape companies, brands and shops in the USA

Pleas to save the jobs of over 110,000 workers and the thousands of small businesses in the U.S. vaping industry has so far fallen on deaf ears. To borrow Biden’s prediction of a “dark winter ahead,” I believe 2021 could be a “dark year” for many independent vape companies.

Beyond the war on vaping, the COVID-19 response, with its lockdowns and shutdowns, unleashed a war on small business which has left the economy teetering on the precipice of depression. To survive 2021, it’s important for business owners to stay focused on the important goal of helping people to make the switch from smoking to vaping. Service your customers, get involved with advocacy and promote the virtues of vaping.

The year of the flavour ban

Jim McDonald, Vaping 360

Jim McDonald, Vaping 360

For small vape businesses in the United States, who have always faced legal and regulatory challenges, the future is more uncertain than ever. Just about every vape shop depends on selling a wide variety of e-liquid flavours and styles, but the Food and Drug Administration is threatening to remove from the market almost all of the products they sell. That would also shut down most of the small American companies that make e-juice.

September 9, 2020, was the deadline for manufacturers of vaping products to submit their e-liquids and devices for “premarket” approval from the federal agency. They will then have up to a year to continue selling their products while the FDA determines if they’re “appropriate for the protection of public health.” Those that aren’t will be ordered off the market.

Because the FDA has not issued a blanket ban on flavoured products and is considering Premarket Tobacco Applications (PMTAs) that have been submitted for thousands of flavoured products, vaping advocates believe that anti-tobacco activist groups will push hard for flavour bans at the state and local levels in 2021.

Prohibiting vape flavours (other than tobacco) has been the number one policy target for anti-nicotine groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for at least two years. In September 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies dedicated $160 million to the cause, launching a three-year campaign – managed and orchestrated by Tobacco-Free Kids – aimed at advancing flavour bans federally and in states and cities across the country.

Four states — Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – and dozens of cities already have flavour bans in place. (California passed a statewide ban in August but it is likely to be suspended for two years after opponents gathered the signatures needed to send the flavour ban to a referendum in 2022.) Next year the anti-vaping groups will intensify their effort to impose bans wherever they can.

Tobacco companies and Juul Labs, whose pod-based vaping products are already restricted to tobacco and menthol flavours, have scaled back their opposition to most flavour bans (unless the proposals include menthol cigarettes), preferring to push for a clause that allows flavoured products if they’re approved by the FDA. If the FDA declines to approve any PMTAs for flavoured products, it will clear the competition for these large companies. If it does, the tobacco companies are confident their wealth and regulatory know-how will lead to approval of their flavoured pods.

That leaves state vaping trade organizations and consumers on their own, fighting against a tsunami of lobbying, disinformation and moral panic engineered by Tobacco-Free Kids, and assisted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Academy of Pediatrics and the heart and lung associations, among others.

Vaping advocates will do their best to push back against the onslaught, but it’s difficult to see them prevailing in more than a few smaller states. We will likely look back at 2021 as the year of the flavour ban.

EU Attitudes towards vaping

Ghyslain Armand, Funder of Vaping Post and PGVG Magazine, Director Beyond the Cloud

Ghyslain Armand: Funder of Vaping Post and PGVG Magazine, Director of Beyond the Cloud

I think the hysteria usually shown in media coverage when it comes to vaping is now a worldwide phenomenon, as websites traffic and advertising revenues are the ultimate motivation for their editors. Whether it’s about battery explosions, THC poisoning, youth addiction, heavy metal particles, aldehydes or anything scary like that, vaping is a perfect candidate to generate a lucrative traffic nowadays. Even if politicians often received a high education, they can be influenced by what they read in the media too.

I almost gave up hoping politicians could see right in youth vaping one day and understand that it is not a gateway to smoking for instance. The affective dimension is far too important to tackle this matter rationally. I don’t see any way to escape the argument of “protecting the youngsters from a new addiction” and EU taxes are something we need to be prepared for. I believe this is the price we’ll have to pay to see vaping accepted as a tool to fight tobacco among adults. TPD3 will for sure include heavy taxes, along with new restrictions around flavours.

An annus horribilis for vaping

Neil Humber, E-Cig Click

Neil Humber: E-Cig Click

2020 has been yet another unbelievably tough year for the world’s vaping industry and vapers.
Come to that it’s been an annus horribilis for all of us during this so-called and seemingly never-ending ‘pandemic’.

And yes, COVID-19 has had a major impact on the vape scene across the world; with so-called ‘science’ filling the fake news media with cries that vapers are more likely to contract the ‘virus’. Easily disproved by the real science – a case of hey – don’t let the facts get in the way of a good headline…

And let’s not forget, the devastating effect lockdowns have had on bricks and mortar stores across the world with jobs and livelihoods decimated by Draconian lockdown measures, with those still standing literally hanging on by bloodied fingers

Here in the UK, there’s a call for vape shops to be deemed ‘essential businesses’ during lockdowns, how many more to come one asks – however, and despite even the House of Lords agreeing, the usually pro-vaping UK Government has been unusually quiet.

Whilst over in the USA – President-Elect Biden [at the time of writing lol] is on record as saying he will “eliminate” vaping once, or should that be, if he gets the keys to the White House.

And yeah, his Vice President Kamala Harris is equally anti-vaping, surprise surprise being a Democrat. So what odds would you give she’ll be cosying up to the screeching soccer-mom Bloomberg funded anti-vape groups…odds on I reckon.

Add to this bleak outlook, the sorry state of the Pre Market Tobacco Applications process in full flow over the pond, and I think you’ll agree, vaping is facing yet another mammoth uphill battle in the coming year.

Strange then, that a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] shows the number of smokers in America has stalled, whilst the number of vapers has risen.

This despite a tidal wave of local, state and citywide bans, anti-vaping virtue-signalling politicians, cheer led by an unbelievably biased mainstream media.

People are slowly cottoning on that vaping isn’t as dangerous as the powers that be and news outlets would have you believe – maybe…

Closer to home, and despite Brexit looming on the horizon and the UK finally cutting ties with the EU, new vaping legislation is in the pipeline and vaping advocacy groups, as well as industry associations, are lobbying the UK Government.

Let’s hope we really do have a clean slate and some of those ridiculous EU ‘enforced’ TPD regulations – such as the 2ml vape tank limit – are tossed in the bin where they belong.

Speaking of the EU, the TPD3 is currently being written and right now, yes even in Europe the future for vaping looks worrying indeed.

I wrote recently those unelected mandarins were leaning towards anti-vaping studies as they write the blueprint for the future of vaping on the continent, with early reports not looking good on what they are proposing…

Meanwhile China – the beating heart of vape devices – seems oblivious to the chaos ensuing in the wider world and continues to churn out pretty much identical cheap pod kits with a shelf life of a matter of months, or in some cases weeks.

Taking the money while they can?

Let’s face it, innovation seems to have died a death and come to that only a handful of the larger vape companies have even bothered to submit PMTA’s in order to be allowed to legally sell their products in America.

Big Tobacco and Big Pharma are waiting in the wings to fill the empty shelves – trust me on that – and given those devices and e-liquids tend to be sub-standard – more smokers will return to smoking.

That’s obviously great news for the two big industries that will happily continue on their lucrative “kill and cure” strategies.

Reading this back, I’m on a bit of a downer as we get close to the end of 2020.

However, after writing the Ecigclick bi-weekly news all year, I haven’t really reported on anything much to lift my or indeed the wider vaping community’s spirits.

If 2020 was a battle for the very survival of vaping as we know it – I fear 2021 will be the MOAB.
It’s two minutes to midnight on the Doomsday vaping clock and seriously time for vapers to actually stand up and be counted.

It really IS time to join advocacy groups, to lobby politicians, plaster social media with proven pro-vaping studies and stories and, above all, fight for the right to vape.

If we don’t, those faceless bureaucrats WILL take that right awayLet’s face it, it’s not as if our civil liberties and rights haven’t been attacked this last year…

Industry

Consolidation and professionalisation in the vaping industry

Nigel Quine, CEO, Cuts Ice

Nigel Quine: CEO, Cuts Ice

2020 changed the rhythm of modern life, which has altered society for good and will impact generations to come. It is thanks to the bravery and dedication of frontline healthcare workers, and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of scientists and researchers alike that gives us hope for the future.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, the independent sector is key in the success of vaping sector, and in turn, ensuring that the most effective tobacco harm reduction product of our lifetime is readily available to smokers trying to quit and stay off tobacco. The independent industry was not made up of demanding shareholders worrying about their incumbent product losing traction and share value plummeting. It is made up of people who have used vaping as effective nicotine replacement therapy to sustain a smoke-free life.

ASH’s recent annual survey did show a drop in the vaping population for the first time this year, but we can be certain that demand remains. The figures published were representative of the time the survey was carried out between February and March 2020, when the public’s confidence in vaping was at its lowest ebb due to the EVALI scandal. Most importantly, they do not account for the estimated 1 million smokers who quit during the first lockdown period, and it is more than reasonable to suppose that a significant quantity would have used vaping as their tool.

2021 will see a significant amount of consolidation across the vape sector, as some business merge and others shut their doors. Covid aside, this is the natural cycle of all industries as they grow and adapt to new challenges.

The sector is becoming more professionalised as businesses are more selective about the products they make and distribute. All manufacturers must know the product they are making on a molecular level and conduct the appropriate risk assessments. If these scientific principles are followed then regulators have no reasonable grounds on which to ban flavours. If flavours are restricted or banned, it is highly probable that millions of vapers will revert back to smoking. This would be one of the biggest preventable public health travesties of the century.

As if a single “once in a generation” economic event wasn’t enough, we also have the looming spectre of Brexit to contend with next year. Currently, the UK and EU remain locked in negotiations on a future trading relationship with deadlines rapidly approaching. Without a trade deal, tariffs will be imposed on goods leaving the UK for Europe, and on those arriving on our shores from the continent. As a manufacturer that exports a large proportion of our finished goods to EU member states, we have a responsibility to ensure whatever the outcome of trade talks we are able to maintain continuity of supply to vape shops and smokers across Europe.

While there are certainly obstacles ahead, I remain wholly confident that the independent vape industry will not just survive, but thrive in 2021.

Technology will make vaping safer, greener and more satisfying

Niki Zhang, Marketing Director, Vaporesso

Paul Hare, Director, Innokin

The PMTA

The PMTA will affect a large number of small and medium-sized vape manufacturers. The vape industry is still very new and many technical points need further improvements. It is the small and medium-sized vape manufacturers whose motivation for innovation is the greatest. If companies use current technologies and spend a lot of money on a PMTA then research into new technology development will be negatively affected.

The PMTA means that some of the newest and most advanced vaping products will not be available to Americans. Companies with devices that feature improvements to safety, usability, and delivery will not attempt a PMTA; only large corporations will be licensed to sell.

If the PMTA process is regulated properly, with a real focus on scientific development and the protection of public health, then the research and testing required may help to develop leading technologies for tobacco harm reduction.

Hardware

Vape technology will continue to improve in the coming year. After ten years of research, Innokin will share a breakthrough in vape technology in 2021.

Single-use, disposable vaporizers continue to grow in popularity and account for a large part of the market in the USA. These devices are easy to use and initially inexpensive, which may help in making the switch to vaping. However, the batteries in disposable e-cigarettes contribute significant toxicity to the environment and potentially create future fire hazards. Disposable vaporizer brands should be actively encouraged to provide an accessible recycling system for used batteries.

Canada has instituted Child-Resistant requirements for vaping products from January 1st, 2021. Some governments will follow suit and implement standards to protect children from unnecessary harm.

Vape technology

Vaporizers are built from two fundamentals: the device chipset, which controls power output, and e-liquid atomization. Upgrades to both of these core systems are introduced to the market with every new generation of products. New types of controlled power output technologies make coils last longer and produce better flavours.

Closed systems are convenient but at the expense of flavours. Improving the flavour and vapour quality of pod systems is a primary focus for technological innovation.

Companies are improving device setup and usability to help reduce potential problems created by user error.

Green technology innovation for consumer products is essential for long term market sustainability. Improvements like pod systems with replaceable coils reduce plastic waste. Innokin’s 100% recyclable packaging for products and coils is now available in France and some other key markets.

Vaping technology will further reduce potential exposure to harmful and potentially harmful constituents. New technologies are in development that will monitor the amount of e-liquid and prevent coils from dry-burning.

New technologies will standardize nicotine delivery and provide users with the correct choice of e-liquid and hardware for a safer and more effective vaping experience.

The year of the pod mod

Niki Zhang, Marketing Director, Vaporesso

Niki Zhang, Marketing Director, Vaporesso/Smoore

Impact of the PMTA in the USA

In 2021 PMTA in the USA will affect local manufacturers in terms of their product range, sales, and marketing. Manufacturers must have submitted their PMTA application to the FDA before September 9, 2020 in order to continuously and legally sell in the US.

The FDA requires vape manufacturers to implement thorough scientific studies to prove their products are appropriate for the protection of public health, bringing vapers safer products and a better vaping experience.

In the short term, only a few vape manufacturers can meet the scientific requirements, complexities, and expenses of the PMTA, which means there will be fewer products available. But, in the long run, vape manufacturers will be able to bring more quality and effective products into the market. The FDA asks manufacturers to manage their marketing and sales practices to prevent underage use. This robust PMS program will monitor the manufacturing, marketing, and product use after vape manufacturers receive marketing orders from the FDA.

Hardware trends

In our opinion, Pod Mod products will be the trendsetters for vaping in the coming year. Pod Mod products provide a balance of lightness, compactness, and power. A Pod Mod device is usually designed in a handy size with less weight than the Mods device, while their wide power output range allows for vaping style from MTL to DTL, which allows people with different needs for vaping to be catered for at the same time. By equipping these devices with larger battery capacity than the standard pod devices, these devices bring vapers the ability to vape for longer from a single charge.

Vape technology

There are many pain points that smokers face when making the transition to vape, the most prominent of which is nicotine satisfaction, while other pain points include taste, ease of use and safety, all of which were the directions in which vape technologies are evolving and improving. Ultimately, the most effective way to address these pain points is through continuous innovation. This innovation will include multiple protective functions to prevent misoperation, including Bluetooth and age verification technology for youth protection.

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