Our 10th annual vape predictions post brings together expert views from across the world to help us get a glimpse into what 2022 holds for us.
We aim for a global perspective, and this year you’ll find predictions for many parts of the world, from Africa to South America and from the UK to the US.
This is always a long post, so for those short of time, you can find a summary of the big themes in vaping for 2022 here. You can also use the contents below to navigate to the areas that are of most use to you. I encourage contributors to keep predictions short, but where they are longer we have linked to a separate post. Without further ado, here they are…
- Industry & Analysts
- Independent Media
- Brent Stafford, Regulator Watch: Canada – Cruelty at a population level
- Ghyslain Armand, Vaping Post: A moment of calm for the EU vaping industry
- Jim McDonald, Vaping 360: It can probably get worse [in the USA]
- Claudio Teixeira, The Vaping Today: Combating corruption and disinformation in Latin America
- Clive Bates, The Counterfactual: A year of competing trends
- Martin Cullip, Taxpayers Alliance: Potential threats in the UK
- Louise Ross, New Nicotine Alliance: Medical licensing will have a positive impact on confidence in the UK
- Dr Alex Wodak, Harm Reduction Australia: Anti-vaping stance slows drop in smoking rates – but harm reduction will eventually win
- Professor David Sweanor: The end is in sight for the tobacco industry
- Samrat Chowdhery, Association of Vapers India: The tide is turning towards harm reduction
- Joseph Magaro: Africa Perspective – 2022 Will Be Challenging
Positives in the midst of the gloom
Tim Phillips: E-Cigarette Intelligence
On the face of it, 2021 has been a difficult year for the vape sector. Increasing restrictions were brought in around the world for the sale of vape products, and the effects of the EVALI lung crisis and Covid have had a continued detrimental effect on growth in many countries. But there are some positives that may be very important in the years to come.
First the bad: In the US, the Pre-Market Tobacco Application process will continue to be central to the future of the industry. Millions of applications have been rejected and many remained outstanding a year later. Anticipate many more legal challenges next year. Even if the FDA conclude their review of all 6m+ applications next year (highly unlikely) effective enforcement will be unlikely, leading to continued uncertainty.
If approved, President Biden’s nomination for the role of FDA Commissioner, Robert Califf, is unlikely to alter this. Known for having critical views of flavoured vape products, he is unlikely to prioritise the FDA’s review process given the many other health issues that will be on his plate. A huge growth in flavoured disposables and synthetic nicotine in the market are the unforeseen consequences of this policy uncertainty in the US, together with new restrictions on flavours and other regulation at a state level given the regulatory vacuum on the federal level. Tax on vape products at a state level will continue to be adopted in 2022, especially as the federal tax proposal has now been dropped.
To continue with the bad: in Europe, restrictions on flavours and other sales restrictions will continue during 2022 together with increasing tax. A tax directive at an EU level may bring in a minimum tax for all vape products in the EU27 and political discussions in the European Parliament may well result in European-wide flavour restrictions. In China, vaping will be brought under the tobacco monopoly, and licensing will be controlled centrally (although private companies may be allowed to continue to operate).
But for the good:
1. The US FDA has authorised a vape product (RJ Reynolds’ Vuse) for sale in the US, deeming it to be “appropriate for the protection of public health”. This is a huge step forward: if one product can obtain approval, then so can others.
2. The US Senate has blocked the implementation of a federal tax on vaping because it would be deemed regressive, particularly given that it would tax some vape products higher than combustible cigarettes.
3. The European Parliament has given preliminary approval to a cancer report which stated that electronic cigarettes “could allow some smokers to progressively quit smoking” (even if they also approved the future assessment of a flavour ban in the same report).
4. China has approved a regulatory regime for vape products (although the details of this are still not clear, this is a significant step forward compared to the potential for an outright ban).
With these developments, and the continued growth in the market size for vape products (if at a slower pace than we have seen in previous years), I’m broadly optimistic about the future of the category going into 2022. This is a sector that is now clearly established and here to stay, and 2021 gave us some early glimmers of hope to build on in future years.
Vaping technology and the environment
Paul Hare: VP Sunakin (formerly Chief Marketing Officer for Innokin)
Policies will continue to limit the introduction of new products and technologies as the availability of tobacco cigarettes and disposable e-cigarettes continues to grow. The PMTA will likely introduce systems that will help track buyers and products to prevent them from being used by youth. This will make products more expensive, and people who smoke cigarettes/use nicotine are also more likely to distrust a system that requires registration.
New vaping technologies can increase coil life, deliver nicotine without using heating elements and charge batteries much faster; however, the market for open systems in key regions continues to decline.
How can companies introduce new, more expensive technologies to the current market? Disposable e-cigarettes and cigarettes are readily available and continue to grow worldwide without resistance.
Lithium causes damage to the environment at extraction sites, battery production and product disposal. In the case of disposable ecigs, the batteries are often lower quality. When the batteries are disposed of incorrectly and thrown away in the garbage or tossed out of cars, they then have a possibility of shorting when exposed to moisture and starting rogue fires in forests, landfills and homes. Lithium is caustic and burns living things, but new recycling processes and disposal enforcement can limit potential damage.
Long-term adoption of sustainable technologies will depend on the success of governments’ environmental policies. There will be some crossover with the cannabis industry, focusing on heating elements and safer, more affordable batteries. ‘Green’ materials are now used for the outer casings and packaging on some devices.
The availability and price of disposable e-cigarettes suit customer buying habits for people likely to use nicotine. The issue with disposables is that no one is currently taking responsibility for the batteries and plastics once the products are used or expired.
Leaders should be treating the environment with the same vigour and speed that they did to protect children from flavours and nicotine. The collective goal for 2022 should be: ‘E-cigarettes have the potential to be 95% safer for people and the environment.’
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a happy and safe New Year.
A bounceback for the UK independent vape industry
Gillian Golden: Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA)
After a very difficult year in 2020, the bounce-back of the independent industry in the UK has been a moment of pride for the sector. The new NICE guidance published this November will accelerate the number of health professionals recommending vaping to smokers. The next evidence review by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (formerly part of Public Health England) will demonstrate that lingering fears about safety have been misguided.
It’s been clear for years now that to achieve the government’s smokefree goals across the UK, “traditional” quit smoking frameworks and NRT products weren’t doing enough. The new Tobacco Control Plan for England will see a greater emphasis on promoting vaping to reach this goal. I predict that the devolved nations will take this as an impetus to relax their more hesitant stances and get behind vaping to a greater extent.
2021 will certainly be remembered as a “phoenix” year for the disposable e-cigarette, with incredible growth in their popularity in the UK. Although seen as controversial by some, disposables will have increased the number of people making a quit attempt with an e-cigarette. I think next year’s smoking rates data will reflect this change.
The increase in independent brands present in convenience stores in 2022 will be seen as a threat by some vape shops. However I think on balance it will be good for the independent sector as a whole, as non-tobacco owned vape brands become better known. People will better understand the importance of good quality vape shops as vaping gains wider acceptance. This will reward businesses that have invested time in smoking cessation training for their teams.
I also think there will be a return to the importance of ‘independence’, as more people see through the efforts of the tobacco industry in trying to influence policy.
Expect further reputational and regulatory challenges
Jose Becerril, Shane MacGuill: Euromonitor
The impact of the vaping crisis in 2019 continues to reverberate and reshape the nicotine landscape in the US while also having a major impact on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
E-vapour products remain in the spotlight in the US as the FDA’s authorisation process drags on amid reversals of some MDOs. Alongside this, focus on control ofon distribution channels, in particular e-commerce, to avoid consumption among underage people will put additional pressure on e-vapour players to develop more sophisticated devices and rethink their marketing campaigns and distribution policies in order to continue operating in the market and reduce their exposure to further restrictions. Collectively, these pressures could pave the way for heated tobacco (current legal disputes notwithstanding) to become the main alternative to combustible cigarettes in the US in the foreseeable future.
In Europe, the revision of the European Tobacco Products and Tobacco Excise Directives are also expected to reflect growing concerns on e-vapour use among underage and young adults which have already motivated restriction on e-vapour in individual member states. With the European Commission aiming to lower the smoking prevalence to less than 5% by 2040, it seems highly likely that the EU will seek to harmonize definitions and tax treatment of e-cigarettes and e-liquids and agree a new specific tax on the category.
Further restrictions on online and cross border sales are also likely to be implemented, although the main concern for the industry is a potential ban on flavoured e-liquids mirroring the approach adopted for combustible cigarettes. Overall, the threat of new restrictions will lead to fewer players in the European market and global tobacco manufacturers increasingly diverting resources towards other alternative products, notably heated tobacco and nicotine pouches, leaving the UK as the main hub in Europe in terms of e-vapour developments and innovation.
All the while, on both sides of the pond the continuing growth in both synthetic nicotine and disposable pod products will come to a head in 2022 and present further reputational and regulatory challenges for the industry and legislators.
What’s in store for Canada in 2022?
Brent Stafford, Regulator Watch
Cruelty at a population level.
That best describes the impact of newly introduced public health interventions to reduce the access and appeal of nicotine vaping products to Canadian youth and those young adults who have never smoked.
In a matter of months, Canada went from being a world leader with a legalized and regulated nicotine vaping market to a country on the brink of a public health disaster, driving hundreds of thousands of people back to smoking and birthing a dangerous, uncontrolled black market.
Health Canada is the public health agency charged with regulating nicotine vaping products under Canada’s ground-breaking Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA), which legalized vaping in 2018. In response to the moral panic over teen vaping, the regulator steamrolled restrictions on nicotine levels that cut the amount of nicotine available in e-liquids and pre-loaded vaping devices by more than half.
Now the regulator is mere steps away from implementing a national flavour ban that is certain to destroy the over one billion dollars per year Canadian vaping industry, costing thousands of jobs and sacrificing the health and wellbeing of Canadians. Even Health Canada admits a flavour ban would drive people back to smoking.
Perhaps, this understanding is the main reason why opposition to the proposed flavour ban appears to be gaining momentum. In December, Health Canada held an unprecedented public webinar to explain how vaping regulations are developed and address questions from consumers. While it is late in the process, the results of this webinar portend a crack in resolve and leave some observers hopeful the flavour ban won’t see the light of day. Health Canada made plain there will be no ban in 2021.
Could the ban happen in 2022? Yes, it could. However, the coming year triggers a legally mandated review of the science, regulations, and overall efficacy of the TVPA. Let’s hope reason will reign.
A moment of calm for the EU vaping industry
Ghyslain Armand: Vaping Post
It is confirmed: there will be no review of the TPD until at least 2023. The European Commission has published its roadmap for 2022, and the Tobacco Product Directive is not on it. A reprieve, which means that vaping, in its current form, is potentially safe until 2025. Environment, digital trade, instant payments, criminal law, democracy: these are just some of the issues that the European Commission will address during 2022.
The Commissioners have published their roadmap, as they do every year, detailing the projects they will be working on. A first document details the general subjects by explaining the reason and the orientations of these choices, and an annex presents, in detail, all the files which will be treated and their contents. As always with the Commission, this sheet is full of succulent, technocratic newspeak for those who like to have fun with it all.
The good news for this end of the year is there will be no revision of the TPD in 2022. This gives the vape industry a moment to consolidate, since between the discussion of a TPD, which takes several weeks, its vote, then the application in the law of each country, it is a visibility of three years that is offered to the sector. Which is not bad. This should give the thousands of vaping professionals a peaceful end to the year.
It can get worse (probably)
Jim McDonald: Vaping 360
It’s nearly impossible to overstate the magnitude of the current threats to vaping in the United States. It’s almost as though all the strategies and goals of the tobacco control opposition to vaping have converged at this moment to hit vaping from every direction simultaneously — with help (possibly) from all three branches of the federal government.
What it adds up to is a hydra-headed menace to the independent vaping industry, which has already been badly wounded. If we remain on the current course, vapers will no longer have access to legal open-system products like bottled e-liquid, and even closed-system products will be too expensive to make switching attractive to many people who smoke.
Let’s look at the threats one at a time.
Battling corruption, collusion and disinformation in Latin America
Claudio Teixeira: The Vaping Today
Trying to decipher 2022 is an act of balancing between hope and contingency.
The southern part of the American continent will continue to experience volatility. Latin America still occupies a prominent place on the map of the global ban, influenced by the World Health Organization, organisations like the Pan American Health Organization and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) as well as their local peers. The pressure on governments for severe restrictions/bans on safer nicotine alternatives will intensify in 2022.
First, the continued growth of nicotine vaping consumers in the region is staggering. The region has a strong market with responsible businesses who are forced to operate and live in a parallel economy close to crime (or in and alongside it). The illicit market is unstoppable and will certainly grow even more in the region.
Second, regulation will also threaten harm reduction in 2022. I believe that we will see a wave of regulation on HnB products. At least it will provide room for a somewhat more mature social and political discussion on harm reduction. Venezuela, in 2021, presented a rare example of legislation that does not ban vaping. Uruguay opted to keep the ban on nicotine vaping but accepted HnB. Some countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia, are still processing their bills. In several countries, such as Brazil and Panama, the next venue for COP10 (WHO Conference of the Parties), proposals to ban use will proceed.
Unfortunately, we will continue to witness legal violations on the South American continent sponsored by corrupt Executive and Legislative branches – such as the scandalous case of the Argentine lawyer linked to the CTFK in the Mexican legislature.
Finally, anti-harm reduction organizations funded by billionaire philanthropists will act vigorously on the continent to address vocal activists and organizations such as the newly created RELDAT, which brings together physicians, scientists and a number of new harm reduction organisations. These organisations, combined with the support of international entities such as the World Vapers Alliance and INNCO, demonstrate the power of a social body of activists and experts.
For our part, after our first year of existence, we will continue trying to make journalism committed to people, trying to reduce the damage caused by the informational disorder perpetuated by the mainstream media.
The end of combustion is in sight
Professor Gerry Stimpson: Knowledge, Action Change
The end of combustion is in sight for tobacco, just as it is for fossil fuels. Many groups are trying to stop tobacco harm reduction (THR), but THR will be driven forward by the dynamic of new nicotine technologies, consumer interest and good regulation.
THR is here for good: it’s an easy fix that will have a massive impact on world health.
THR is a free gift: companies meet the R&D and manufacturing costs, and consumers meet the purchase costs. It is one of the classic, but often unremarked, health interventions that doesn’t require government expenditure.
THR is simple: it requires acceptable, accessible and affordable products, and a regulatory framework that ensures product standards.
Vape shops are killing smoking – but meddling could kill their success
Dr Marewa Glover, Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking
Vaping displaces cigarette smoking. That’s not a prediction, it’s a fact. New Zealand’s 2020/21 government health survey provides more weight to the evidence that vaping can increase quit rates, reduce smoking prevalence and that vaping is not a ‘gateway’ into smoking.
Like other countries that have allowed people who smoke to access at least one and sometimes a range of risk-reduced alternatives to cigarettes, New Zealand’s smoking and vaping stats now depict the same “perfect inverse correlation” – as vaping goes up, smoking goes down.
Disposables could cause a Juul-style moral panic
Dr Frances Thirway, University of York
Whilst 2021 was the year of the pod mod, it was disposables that really took off in the UK during the second half of the year. This followed their success in the US after the removal of flavoured (prefilled) pods from the US market. Manufacturers switched their investment to disposables because the lack of clarity around their regulatory status suggested they might be a good way of meeting consumer demand for flavours beyond tobacco and menthol – an unintended consequence of the FDA’s prohibitive approach.
An optimistic view would be that, like the 2014 ‘shisha pen’ craze, the fashion for brightly-coloured, fruit-flavoured disposables will quickly work itself out, leaving them as a useful stopgap for vapers on a night out and a possible starting point for smokers looking to switch. A more pessimistic view is that the new disposables’ greater efficiency in nicotine delivery will lead to a Juul-style moral panic, as teenagers new to nicotine vape themselves sick and post the results on social media. Young people will soon move onto something else, but the damage to public confidence could be more lasting.
We may also see more pressure to regulate packaging and product names to avoid appealing to children, even though it could be argued that TRPR regulations cover this already, and that the products which have attracted young people (Juul in the US, Geek Bar and others in the UK) have plain names and simple designs.
A year Of competing trends
2022 will be a year of competing trends in intensifying conflict.
On the one hand, tobacco control activists, the WHO, some governments, and what I call the Bloomberg anti-vaping propaganda complex will lunge towards ever-stronger prohibition policies that they hope will bring on the ‘tobacco and nicotine-free society’. They believe it is self-evidently desirable and achievable if only the political will can be found. The policies obviously include outright prohibition, but also quasi-prohibitions such as flavour bans, nicotine limits, high taxes, or impossible authorisation regimes. These, especially when combined, will have much the same effect as prohibition. However, this will involve them in ever more extreme departures from science, economics and ethics that will ultimately be the undoing of their credibility.
On the other hand, there are basic drivers of technology, innovation, and consumer preferences (e.g for not dying in agony of cancer or living in misery with COPD) that will slowly change the market moving steadily but irresistibly like the earth’s tectonic plates. More pragmatic experts and practitioners in the field will come to understand this basic mechanism of “creative destruction” and start to challenge the tobacco control activist and academic paradigm. Though “harm reduction” will remain an important theme, we will increasingly see nicotine use discussed as a recreational stimulant and compared with other recreational drugs, not just as a smoking cessation aid.
There is a finite chance that a major player (like Bloomberg) will shift their stance as it looks like their credibility and personal reputation is vulnerable as they pursue policies that turn out to have highly negative unintended consequences.
Most media will continue to write up press releases as though they are fact, but we will start to see more journalists looking askance at wild claims from scientists and asking tougher questions about motivations, money and malpractice.
UK threats mean there is no room for complacency
Martin Cullip, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
We approach 2022 with key UK decisions on reduced risk products still to be made. No report has yet been published following the public consultation on The UK’s Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR). The Under-Secretary of State declared in the House of Commons in November that the delay in publication was due to over 5,000 responses having been received, the vast majority of which will be from consumers, so we hope that these are listened to.
We are also waiting for the updated Tobacco Control Plan (TCP) for England which will have some influence on devolved nations too. The last TCP spoke of maximising the availability of “safer alternatives to smoking”, but there has been a subtle shift this year with an emphasis on e-cigarettes only in government communications. A consultation on safer nicotine products is also imminent in Scotland, which I expect to be significantly negative, and from 2022, the EU will begin moves towards reviewing the Tobacco Excise Directive (TED).
With all this in mind, I expect 2022 will be a mix of good and bad news. The EU is almost certainly going to propose a minimum level of taxation on nicotine products, and as the UK has still not diverged from EU regulations, we could be dragged into that. It is true that the UK has announced it wants to see vape products licensed for prescription, but this does not mean it wouldn’t consider taxing products thatwhich are unlicensed, in fact taxation may be seen as a driver for industry to submit medicinal applications to avoid it.
The updated TCP will be published and be very supportive of vaping, but I can see it pivoting away from supporting harm reduction in general which would be a step backwards. I would also expect to see the unhelpful recommendations from Action on Smoking and Health’s Smokefree 2030 report adopted, which include standardised packaging of vape products and bans on many flavours.
As always, consumers should be extremely wary of developments in 2022. Although the UK is currently a world leader in harm reduction, there are still potential threats which could derail that, so there is no room for complacency.
Medical licensing will increase confidence in the UK
Louise Ross, Interim Chair, New Nicotine Alliance, UK
The news that the MHRA will make it easier for manufacturers to apply for a medicinal license will have an overall positive effect, but not because a licensed product will appear any time soon. The news itself will help key stakeholders who were reluctant up until now get more comfortable with the idea of people switching from smoking to vaping, and those who were already pretty ballsy about it will get even bolder.
Those who assert that they are not ‘pro-vaping’ just ‘pro the evidence’ will have even more assurance as the evidence accumulates, (and thanks go to Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce and many others for their excellent work on this). Those who are resolutely opposed to any possibility of facilitating nicotine use, especially if it’s enjoyable, may gnash their teeth, but their voices will become increasingly marginalised, as smoking rates continue to fall and the voice of consumers is increasingly heard.
My message would be ‘Don’t wait for a prescribable product – get to your local vape shop now and buy something for yourself. You will quickly recoup the outlay, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.’
I also really hope we see some progress on more engaging and less off-putting packaging, where the message about fearful addiction is replaced with a ‘comparative harms’ message to convince smokers it’s worth switching for. I add this to my predictions with hope and optimism; we know studies have been done demonstrating the increased interest in trying vaping products once a more neutral message is seen on packaging, and we have an opportunity here to capitalise on this, to improve health, especially in communities where health improvement is needed most.
Anti-vaping stance slows declining smoking rates – but harm reduction will eventually win
Australia explicitly endorsed harm reduction in 1985 and that continues. From the 1980s, harm reduction helped Australia maintain low rates of HIV among high risk groups, especially people who inject drugs but also among men who have sex with men and sex workers.
Australia also explicitly endorsed tobacco harm reduction (THR) as part of the National Tobacco Strategy and as a signatory to the FCTC. Unfortunately, Australia’s tobacco strategy is inimical to harm reduction. Alone among western democracies, Australia fiercely rejects vaping & other forms of THR – even requiring a doctor’s prescription for nicotine when used for vaping.
Australia classifies vaping as a health intervention rather than a consumer good. Nicotine for vaping is included in the national Poisons Standard although nicotine in cigarettes is exempt! The regulation of nicotine for vaping was intensified on 1 October 2021. Smoking rates in Australia since 2013 have only been declining at 0.3% per year since 2013, much slower in the same period than the UK (0.9%) and US (0.8%) where vaping rates are much higher. Few doctors are prepared to write these prescriptions. Most Australians vaping before the new arrangements obtained nicotine for vaping without a prescription. This is likely to continue under the new arrangements.
The estimated number of Australians vaping increased from 240,000 in 2016 to 520,000 in 2019 according to a highly regarded national survey (NDSHS). Almost the entire Australian health establishment fiercely rejects THR. As elsewhere, drug harm reduction usually wins most battles in Australia though this can take some time.
As a disruptive innovation supported by powerful and growing market forces, vaping is also likely to eventually be accepted politically even if health professionals continue to accept the anti THR mythology. The likelihood is for anti THR policy to continue for some years, smoking rates to continue only declining slowly, vaping rates to continue rising steeply and a political correction to this madness starting at the state or territory level within a few years.
The end is in sight for the tobacco industry
Professor David Sweanor, University of Ottawa
Predicting what is likely to happen in the vaping market continues to be a good basis for humility. Given all the factors interacting, it is much like watching a billiards table with all the balls in motion and predicting where they will all be a while later. But, as it is also good fun to try, here I am at it once again.
The short-term developments that most get attention have been negative for some time. There is a hugely well-financed effort to constrain or ban alternatives to cigarettes. It is backed by bodies such as the WHO which shamefully continues to show no grasp of some pretty basic concepts in public health and thinks it is fighting ‘the tobacco industry’ without an apparent appreciation of just what that industry is and how it operates. Such groups perpetuate the epidemic of cigarette caused disease and deaths. They will continue to so in 2022 given the value placed on consistency over rationality.
Yet we have seen how other abstinence-only campaigns have failed spectacularly, on issues including alcohol consumption, sexual activities and, as recently widely acknowledged, the ‘war on drugs.’
We are also witnessing the most rapid declines in cigarette use in countries that have allowed substitution of cigarettes with far lower risk alternatives.
Financial markets have heavily discounted cigarette companies due to the threat to their business model from disruptive technology, showing the ‘smart money’ thinks risk reduction strategies are likely to win, and cigarette companies to lose. Markets have a very long history of overcoming obstacles placed in the way of disruptive technology.
But what about the short run? What about 2022? I think we will continue to see consumer rights activists, entrepreneurs, informed regulators and – ever more importantly – litigators, pushing back against counterproductive policies. We will also see ever more data on the effectiveness of non-combustion products in substituting for lethal cigarettes. As the momentum grows to send cigarettes to history’s ashtray we can also expect increasingly nasty and ever more irrational attacks from those pushing an abstinence agenda, and cigarette companies enjoying whatever additional time that buys them. So, 2022 might be another lucrative year for the cigarette business, but very possibly one of the last.
Asia perspective: The tide is turning towards harm reduction
Samrat Chowdhery, consumer advocate, director of Association of Vapers India and the past president of INNCO
The highs of 2021 were the regulatory directions many Asian nations took on lower-risk alternatives, including China. The absolute low was the top WHO award to India’s former health minister for banning vaping, even as he was in the midst of being ousted for grossly mishandling the Covid situation. Overall, the space for anti-harm reduction manoeuvring by WHO and Bloomberg groups is steadily shrinking in the Asian region.
The stage is set for 2022 to be the year when the tide decisively shifts in favour of tobacco harm reduction policies, with China expected to lead the transformation through its political and monetary influence and the US FDA’s nod to vaping technology also playing a role. The Philippines has led the charge on calling out the meddling by international anti-tobacco groups, which more nations are likely to become sensitive to.
In India we can expect a consolidation of the THR movement with more voices joining the chorus for risk-reduction measures, aided by a growing volume of locally produced scientific, empirical and policy evidence in favour of allowing the country’s significant tobacco-using population access to less harmful options. The new health administration has so far downplayed the ENDS ban, which could indicate its willingness to consider a counterview.
Meanwhile, driven by rising consumer awareness and demand, and lack of enforcement of the ban, the black market will become more entrenched and it will become increasingly easier for Indians to buy vapes. The concern however is that the inflated costs will dissuade many smokers from switching, while the absence of regulation could lead to proliferation of substandard or dangerous goods.
Africa Perspective: 2022 will be challenging
Joseph Magaro, Chairman Campaign for Safer Alternatives | INNCO Outstanding Advocate of the year 2019
Going by this year’s FCTC COP 9 policy options and recommendations, 2022 will be challenging for vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Africa. Expect increased pressure and well-orchestrated campaigns by tobacco control organizations to spread misinformation on safer nicotine products in the continent.
Electronic cigarettes continued to gain popularity in 2021 and the use of vaping devices has continued to grow rapidly in Africa, but due to anticipated counter-campaigns from tobacco control organizations, regulations are set to be affected in some countries in 2022. Few countries have passed delayed regulation – for example South Africa and Botswana have bills tabled since 2019 which were supposed to be passed this year, but have seen no movement. However, we are likely to see an increase in taxes for new nicotine products.
Even as more THR organisations continue to be set up and the number of tobacco harm reduction advocates continues to grow, tobacco control counterparts will continue to attack consumer organizations through scientific literature in a bid to delegitimize them by branding them big tobacco front groups.
The positive news is that consumers are becoming more engaged and organized in pushing back against narratives that go against their interests, I anticipate positive regulations for safer nicotine products in key countries on the continent, which will set a precedent for others to follow.
Ever since I took my first puff on an electronic cigarette in the summer of 2008, I’ve been continuously surprised at the many twists and turns that the vaping industry has experienced. Predicting the future is, simply put, really hard. So I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who dusted off their crystal balls, peered into the future and shared their thoughts with us.