Game Changer, California, e-cig explodes, e-cigs harmful?, Future Regulation
September 19, 2013
E-cigs could be a game changer
The tobacco industry has long searched for a holy grail – a product that would give nicotine addicts their fix without also causing disease and death.
The jury is still out on whether e-cigarettes could be that change. Public health groups are highly skeptical, but few doubt that the technology represents a potential sea change.
Some industry observers view e-cigs as potentially the most disruptive force to hit the U.S. tobacco industry since the invention of the cigarette rolling machine.
The market potential for e-cigs has become big enough that major tobacco companies are now entering the category, and even the world’s largest tobacco leaf company has announced plans to become a supplier of nicotine for e-cigs.
While still only a small portion of the overall $80 billion U.S. cigarette market, e-cig sales could surpass traditional cigarette sales within the next decade as cigarette sales continue to decline while e-cig sales grow.
Analysts with Goldman Sachs wrote in late 2012 that if the e-cig market takes off, “there is potential for a big shake-up in the tobacco hierarchy.”
Altria Group consumer research shows that about 50 percent of adult cigarette smokers are interested in alternative products.
California city governments pondering what to do about E-cigs
Seal Beach, Calif., recently passed a 45-day moratorium halting any new e-cigarette and smoke shops from opening in the small beach community.
With fresh memories of how rapidly marijuana dispensaries multiplied and generated controversy, many cities want to slow the spread of electronic cigarette stores until they can figure out the ramifications.
For Jim Basham, Seal Beach's director of community development, the distinguishing line between pot dispensaries and vaping outlets is a bit blurry. He's seen e-cigarette stores evolve into hemp shops — and draw with them a ragtag crowd.
"You have other folks with different intentions," Basham said, "and you can have secondary adverse effects, like crime."
In August, Temple City passed a zoning ordinance that keeps all smoke shops, including those that sell only e-cigarettes, at least 1,000 feet from parks and schools. About a month earlier, Duarte passed an urgency ordinance that temporarily halted any new shops from opening there. And the city of Pico Rivera passed an ordinance that treats the vapor devices like traditional cigarettes.
Some city officials said they want more information about the devices and their health effects.
"I'm not saying you're going to die and go to hell if you use them," said Pico Rivera Councilman Gregory Salcido, who backed the city's decision to treat the devices as regular cigarettes. "But we don't know enough about them, and as a result we're going to cover our bases."
E-cig exploded, Atlanta woman claims
One Atlanta woman claims she's happy to be alive after a very difficult electronic smoking experience.
As WSB-TV reports, Elizabeth Wilkowski is sure that what she experienced was no ordinary event.
"I didn't hear a boom. It wasn't a pop. It was a kaboom!" she said.
Wilkowski claims that she had simply plugged the e-cigarette into her computer's USB port in order to charge it.
This particular e-cigarette was a Seego EHit, manufactured in China.
Are e-cigs harmful? Nobody knows for sure
The jury is still out on whether vaping is dangerous. And there are still plenty of conflicting opinions.
“People are inhaling some type of chemical vaporized compound into their lungs without really knowing what's in it," said Dr. Mike Feinstein, a spokesman for the American Lung Association.
Last year, the American Lung Association issued its own warning about e-cigarettes: “This is a buyer stay-away, a buyer health hazard, potentially."
Dr. Robert Greene, who treats lung cancer patients at Florida’s Palm Beach Cancer Institute, said the product is potentially a health hazard. “There really is no information about whether they're safe or not, and that's part of the problem," said Greene.
He says with no real data on e-cigarettes, the three-year-old tobacco alternative may actually be more harmful that traditional cigarettes.
"The doses of nicotine that you get could conceivably be higher than what you would get in a typical cigarette," said Greene.
According to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, e-cigarettes contain just five ingredients, all approved by the FDA. Recently, the FDA announced it will begin to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.
Future of e-cigs hinges on regulation
There’s been little research done on e-cigarettes, but among those studying the devices is Dr. Greg Connolly, professor of public health at Harvard University.
The future of e-cigarettes, Connolly said, hinges on how the FDA approaches regulation of them.
"This could be a tool — if it's regulated correctly — to help end dependence on cigarettes and nicotine. This is probably the best quitting device known to man," said Connolly, who co-authored an early study on e-cigarettes.
But they just as easily could become a means to hook more people on nicotine, he said.
If the technology continues to develop...they could become even more addictive than the conventional cigarette — that's frightening," Connolly said.
Connolly plans to publish research on a set of habit-forming compounds, or so-called "super juices," that have been in conventional cigarettes like Merit and Marlboro since the late 1970s — and that he has found to be present in some popular e-cigarettes.
These super juices — which aren't present in nicotine gum or patches — could help make e-cigarettes a more effective quitting aid because they would deliver the kick of a regular cigarette, Connolly said. And like the patch, he said, users could wean themselves off nicotine by stepping down the dosage — that is, provided e-cigarettes are regulated such that graduated doses of nicotine are required to be availed.
But Connolly, who has served on FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, said the agency does not seem poised to regulate e-cigarettes as a quitting aid. Rather, he said, FDA seems headed toward regulating them as tobacco products, which would leave the companies free to market the highest allowable dosages and essentially assure an ongoing supply of addicts or customers.
"FDA seems to be poised to ban Internet sales, which is exactly what (big tobacco companies) want," Connolly said. "That will only destroy competition and hand the market over to (the big three companies) whose only mission is to make the most addictive product they can."
The three major companies are Lorillard, Philip Morris, and Reynolds American.
One of the most common descriptions of Vape Shop Events is that it’s like “Speed Dating for vape professionals.” With just 20 minutes to wine and dine your customers, everyone brings their “A Game.”
“This is not the place to come party,” said one of the attendees, “and if you focus on what is in front of you, the time will be well spent.”
Joshua Krane from Craft Vapery put it succinctly as I sat in on of his meetings.
“We can do this the hard way or the easy way,” he offered to the e-liquid seller in front of him. “The hard way is that you do your song and dance and waste ten minutes and I tell you I want to buy. Or we can cut the crap and work out a price that we both like and I walk out with a 2500 bottle order.” They did and he did…
Krane and Craft Vapery had the best of both worlds at this unique event. He came as a seller, offering their own products, and he was also there as a buyer, seeking out great flavors and deals for his subscription services.
How-and Why- it all Works
Vape Shop Events is not a new concept, but it is a new offering in this still-young vape space.
“We’ve been doing these type events for over 12 years now,” offered Mike Sessoms, the founder of VSE. “We do similar programs in the tobacco, promotions and pet shop space.”
With this proven concept, 27 sellers/ manufacturers buy a space (room) at the host resort. They meet with 20 buyers who are hand chosen and invited to participate. In a round-robin whirlwind over one and a half days, every seller meets with every borrower for 20 minutes. Then the timer goes off, the doors open and a new prospect enters the room.
The sellers pay to attend and one fee covers 100 percent of their expenses, including airfare, lodging and food. The buyers get a better deal; they are invited in for free and likewise have all expenses paid. This process weeds out a lot of time wasters on both sides of the transaction.
Park City, UT, one of the most beautiful ski resorts in the country, was just four miles away, but few attendees ever ventured into town until the event concluded. The beautiful Westgate Resort is at the base of the ski lifts, though ski season had ended just weeks earlier. Over the course of two days it did snow, which made for a dramatic day.
Sessoms says that this is his favorite host resort of all.
When I jokingly mentioned to him that the resort felt a bit like a prison he responded, “That’s intentional!”
“All kidding aside, the goal is to immerse all the attendees in the business at hand and discourage them from leaving the premises.” That was not a problem as the resort offered a spa, indoor/ outdoor pool, lots of walking paths and a restaurant that was voted “Best Steakhouse in Utah.”
What the Attendees Say
Jessica Johns from Virgin Vapor is not a virgin at these shows, as this was her third time. With her associate Asia, they both raved about the show staff and the reasons they attend.
“These guys are so organized and professional and they always make us feel so welcome. On top of that, the ability to spend 20 minutes at a time with face to face buyers is invaluable and generates business.”
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Gary Wilder from Lizard Juice attended for the first time and was especially impressed with the professional intentions of the buyers they met with.
“These guys are not here to play; they are here to do business. And with no distractions from other conversations, loud music or passersby, that’s what we did. Just in our first day we signed on two new accounts and took away orders.”
They already signed up for the next show in La Jolla in July.
Oren Cohen, the owner and chief chef of The Vaping Kitchen, was new to this event, but remembered participating at one of the first events put on by the same promoters 12 years ago.
“I was in another industry and recall how great the process was even then,” he said.
I asked if he had any advice for those looking to attend a future event.
“Be clear with your mission and intentions. If you are a seller be sure you have a good product and if you are a buyer, be focused on exactly what you are looking for.”
Dylan Thompson from Vaporessence attended the last show in January and learned some lessons, which he shared.
“Don’t bring too much product,” he offered, “and you need not set up a fancy display! The people we met with don’t care about fluff, just quality products. In most cases they know what they are looking for and you either have it or you don’t.” Instead of bringing his entire line, he only brought his top four.
Some other comments from the attendees:
“There’s no lack of good product out there, but there’s a huge lack of good companies to work with,” said an attendee. In less than 30 minutes we get to know each other and we both walk away as friends and future associates.”
“Study the buyer’s profile and research them as best you can. The more you know about them, the more likely they’ll buy from you,” said Cory Parravano from The Vapor Spot. He attended the last show as a buyer, but returned this time as a seller.
“When you sit down with someone over dinner you really get to know them,” Taylor Craig from Big Bang E-cigs confided. “You can’t even come close to that level of intimacy at any other type of event.” He was here for the second time and plans to return.
Chris and Margaux Jimenez from BankCard USA was not a typical vendor, but they have carved out a prominent and significant space in the merchant services field. They have also been part of Vape Shop Events since the beginning, and participate in other industry shows that the VSE team conducts.
“Merchant Services is incredibly complex, so we come here to offer guidance and education aside from just great pricing,” Jimenez shared.
He suggested anyone interested in participating to “Get in while you can. With just 27 sellers and 20 buyers there is a waiting list already, so it may be awhile!”
The next event will be in La Jolla, CA on July 17-19, 2016. For more information, visit www.VapeShopEvents.com.
Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and creator of the VAPE U online programs. They offer services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.2 M downloads. Norm interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.
Before gaining recognition in the vape community for the looping vape trick videos she would upload to Vine, and before reaching over 63,000 followers on Instagram, 29-year-old Amy Hanks described herself as just being a normal, shy girl who grew up in Auburn, Alabama.
Since taking up vaping in 2013, Hanks has attended roughly 18 vape conventions in support of a number of vapor product companies that she promotes both on social media and at the many events she attends throughout the country.
Hanks describes the experience as “life changing” and she never would have guessed that her work promoting top brand companies would offer her the financial freedom to do with her time whatever she pleases.
“It’s surprising for sure because when I set out on this journey I did not have any of these plans in my head, and I had no idea it would all unfold the way it did,” Hanks said.
…continued from above
When she began vaping, Hanks says she spent a lot of her free time on social media. While cycling through short videos on Vine, she began noticing a lot of females doing an assortment of vape tricks that she was “very enticed by.”
What soon followed was her attempts at mimicking what she saw and improving upon certain vape trick techniques that she would also record and upload to the short-form video sharing service.
“I would try to do little smoke rings and before I knew it I could do a lot of [tricks] and I started making videos and posting on Vine,” Hanks said. “I grew a following on there and I got up to about 11,000 followers.”
The Alabama native was also active on Facebook and would later transition from Vine to Instagram, when the latter social media platform allowed users to post longer, 15-second videos.
“We went from six second videos on Vine to 15 seconds on Instagram, so I kind of dropped off of Vine and it picked up from there” Hanks said. “I guess I just grew a following and I was also active on my Facebook and that’s where I got my first approach from a company.”
That company was The Steam Factory, a premium e-liquid brand whose owner, Jason Witherspoon, discovered Hanks’s videos on social media and invited her to promote his product at his company’s booth at Vape Summit 2014—a large convention held in Houston, Texas that really helped “put [Hanks] on the map.”
“At the time I didn’t know who was behind certain brands that I looked up to and really admired,” Hanks said. “And so when I got out to Vape Summit I began being introduced to some of these people, like the guys behind Five Pawns and Jaybo.”
Since then Hanks has engaged in promotion through her modeling work for companies like Craving Vapor, the makers of the HexOhm, Sicboy Industries and the Vaping Monkey, to name a few.
When she was originally contacted by Witherspoon, Hanks admits she was a little nervous at the prospect of flying and being thrust into an environment that was alien to her and that grand in scale.
What was also particularly troubling for Hanks was that Witherspoon’s offer came just four months into her recovery from drugs and alcohol.
Before she discovered vaping and gained online notoriety, Hanks was a tobacco user who suffered from depression and anxiety. When she was about 26 years old she was admitted to rehab for substance abuse.
During the 18 months she was in treatment, Hanks began smoking cigarettes more regularly, until a young man she met at a narcotics anonymous meetings turned her on to vaping in the fall of 2013.
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“I went to the meeting one night and I saw this young guy smoking on this weird looking tube device and my first thought was…what the hell is he doing?” Hanks said. “So that in itself started a conversation where he explained vaping to me.”
She continued smoking, but in the weeks that followed she began growing accustomed to the taste of the various e-liquid flavors she was able to sample from the man she first met at her NA meetings.
“I finally took myself to a local shop [in Alabama] and they gave me my first setup…and as I left I bought another pack, but I continued vaping,” Hanks said. “Three weeks later I was completely disgusted with the taste of cigarettes, and could not for the life of me take a few hits off one without just feeling horrible, so yeah, from then on out I’ve been hardcore vaping.”
Meeting those industry people whom she would later call close friends at Vape Summit helped put her mind at ease, and she felt grounded in her recovery and doubly humbled by the experience.
Her stop in Texas two years ago opened her eyes to the joys of meeting new, like-minded people, and networking with companies who sought her help in promoting their efforts, with 2015 being the year Hanks said was her busiest when it came to attending vape conventions.
Her convention days are far from over, but Hanks admits that while she is “very grateful for everything” she’s gained, she’s reached a point where taking a break feels like the best course of action.
Hanks’s ability to connect with people and develop meaningful and lasting personal and professional relationships is something she says she’ll never take for granted and that her personal development is thanks in no small part to her work and time spent in the vape industry.
“My drug addiction prevented me from feeling comfortable in my own skin and the constant worrying just stressed me out,” Hanks said. “I wanted to be in control of my emotions, so I would try to chemically alter that.”
“Being in the industry has brought me out of my shell, it’s given me purpose and taken me on a wild ride. This community and the way it makes me feel has been life changing.”
Marcy Coyne (VapingMarcy) is the founder and creator of #Iamavaperproject. It’s a coalition of vapers, organization, etc. to get together to stand up and fight for our vaping rights. With the recent announcement of the FDA regulations, the group’s popularity has grown quickly.
So, how exactly was this group inspired? According to Coyne, it was just an idea that sparked from getting a few people to do a video and end their segment by merely saying “I’m a vaper, not a smoker.” That’s it. Just a simple video project. Little did she know that once word got around on the idea, it would blow up. It seems as if this was something that the vaping community had been looking for and wanted, but didn’t exactly know when or where to start.
Coyne is not working alone on this. She has several other assistants helping her disseminate and making sure that the right information gets out there. Chris Meyers, the owner of Pope Juice jumped on the bandwagon immediately when he heard about #Iamavaperproject. He has been a big help to Coyne in creating event pages and recording videos from various events that he attends. Other helping hands have included Brandon from Blue Collar Vapes and BRM (see Facebook).
It seems, according to Brandon, that social media is the key right now in getting the word out. In fact, if you do a mere Facebook search on vaping groups, there are thousands of them from every state, if not every city. This is also why the group has posted any video collaboration on their YouTube page, Twitter account, Tumbler, and more. While the population of the online community may seem a small portion of the overall population, it’s actually pretty vast and by reaching out to the online vapers, they hope it can filter out into real life. Yet sadly, even a lot of people who visit their local vape shops are oblivious to what the online community is talking about (except for the occasional Phil Busardo or Grimm Green video).
While there has been this panic as of late because of the FDA, the group stresses calm as well as respectable and professional behavior. In fact, it is highly stressed as a rule on the group’s Facebook page as well as when people are doing videos.
With all the demand for exposure, the group has been working on creating a PayPal page for donations, creating products such as bumper stickers and t-shirts, and maybe in the future, hosting a fundraiser. So far, the administration board of #Iamavaperproject have appeared and recorded videos at VPX events, Vape Bash, and even smaller venues. Eventually, the group would like to give presentations at various meets and shows similar to what is done by the Vaping Militia, SFATA, and CASAA.
So what are the long terms goals of #Iamavaperproject? Basically, it is the hope that everyone comes together to fight for the industry. In total, between the online and offline community, there are at least 10 million vapers in the US alone. If every single person took action and spoke out, making sure that news media coverage on vaping is balanced, became active in government, and even simply voted, a lot would happen. Sadly, it hasn’t and the #Iamavaperproject wants to emphasize that fact.
When joining the Facebook group (the heart of #Iamavaperproject), you will not only interact with other vapers, but will see Facebook feeds of video Calls to Action for collaborative projects, various articles on vaping, and of course CASAA calls to action to contact legislators.
Let’s face it; if FDA-approved drugs like Chantix didn’t have all the suicidal side effects, vaping would not have been a thought. If the FDA-approved nicotine patches worked, no one would’ve thought to turn to vaping.
What is stressed is that #Iamavaperproject is not replacing other more established groups, but encouraging those groups (as well as members of them) to work together for the same goal: fighting for vaping rights.
Thus this is a community group, not a clique.
To find out more about I’m a Vaper Project, find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or online at http://iamavaper2016.wix.com/Iamavaperproject
After a very successful first edition, VAPEVENT is back on the 11th and 12th of September at the Paris Event Center. The number of exhibitors and the exhibition area are doubled; join us at the must-do event of September.
VAPE PROFESSIONALS, HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, REVIEWERS, BLOGGERS, PARTNERS, PROJECT DEVELOPERS… We invite you to VAPEVENT on SUNDAY THE 11th AND MONDAY THE 12th of SEPTEMBER 2016. More than 120 exhibitors and 300 brands will be present on 6000m² exhibition. Online registration allows you a direct access without passing through the welcome desks. Free entry. Professionals only.
As most vapers (should) know, the FDA has expanded its tobacco regulatory authority to the vaping industry, with the changes taking effect on August 8, 2016. There are other stories covering the nuts and bolts of the proposed regulations (and if you have not educated yourself, please do so.) Suffice it to say that these rules, short of legal or legislative action, will start a two year clock that will expire in August 2018 with the end of vaping as we know it.
Several groups have been working toward the goal of changing these regulations through legal or legislative channels. In May 2016, these groups – who collectively represent the best chance to save vaping – formalized their coalition.
The groups involved should be known to every vaper. They are the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA), the American Vaping Association (AVA), the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA), the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) and Not Blowing Smoke (NBS).
CASAA is a consumer advocacy group focused on tobacco harm reduction. AEMSA and SFATA are trade organizations which drive self-regulation through member commitment to certain quality and safety standards.
NBS focuses on countering misinformation in unscientific or biased studies, dishonest press releases and statements from anti-vaping politicians.
The AVA is an advocacy group for small and medium-sized businesses in the vaping industry. Gregory Conley, the President of the AVA, calls the end of that two-year clock “Vaping Prohibition.”
A former legislative director for CASAA, Conley founded the AVA in 2014. He is one of the more prominent advocates who dedicate their lives to speaking on behalf of vapers; telling our stories, clearing up misconceptions, countering misinformation and seeking solutions to the pending prohibition.
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Regarding those solutions, there are a number of legal challenges at the federal and local level on behalf of vapers, but the best chance to save vaping appears to be legislative. There are two main legislative initiatives being pursued by vaping advocates at this time.
One of these initiatives is House Resolution 2058 which is a focused bill that simply changes the predicate date for the pending regulations to be the same as the deeming date: August 8, 2016 instead of the proposed predicate date of 2007, which allows vaping products currently on the market to remain on the market without the labor and expense of filing a pre-market tobacco application – a process which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product.
This resolution has over 60 co-sponsors but until recently that support was exclusively republican.
“We are pleased to announce our first democratic co-sponsor to HR2058,” Conley said in an interview with VAPE Magazine, “hopefully this opens the door for additional democratic support.” Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson was the pioneer who crossed the line to officially make HR2058 a bipartisan resolution.
Julie Woessner, president of CASAA and long-time vaping advocate, does not believe that this should be a partisan issue.
“This represents a private-sector solution to a public health problem, which should make republicans happy,” Woessner told VAPE Magazine. “But it also represents harm reduction, which is what democrats say they want.”
The other initiative being focused on by the coalition is the Cole-Bishop Amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations bill, and it also has bipartisan support. The amendment, which was offered by Republican Tom Cole and Democrat Sanford Bishop, was added to the Appropriations bill in April.
Cole-Bishop changes the predicate date like HR2058 but it also contains some restrictions, calling for battery regulations, new package labeling requirements and restriction of print marketing to publications designed for adults.
This amendment probably represents vapers’ best chance at saving vaping from prohibition. Compared to HR2058, Conley said, “I am most confident in the Cole-Bishop amendment because it is in the agricultural appropriations bill and that has to be voted on later this year.”
While changing the predicate date is the most critical battle in front of the coalition – and all vapers – at the moment, winning that battle does not mean the war is over.
According to Woessner, the predicate date fight is a ‘critical step, but not a long term solution.”
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Even with the predicate date change, “vaping would still be regulated by the tobacco control act, which is not what the act was intended for,” Woessner explained. “The long-term goal should be a framework for regulating (vaping products) in a way that makes sense.”
Short term or not, the fight is well underway. To avoid ‘vaping prohibition’ every vaping consumer, producer and retailer needs to be engaged.
Conley suggest that vapers, “Join CASAA, promote August8th.org, call your elected officials, write letters, check with your local vape shops and encourage their activism…”
He stressed the importance of face-to-face advocacy if possible, saying vapers should, “motivate your fellow vapers, go to town hall meetings, and encourage (vape shops) to seek meetings with their elected officials.”
Get involved, get your fellow vapers involved and get your vape shops involved.
“Now more than ever it is important that everyone in and around this industry get serious about saving it.” – Greg Conley, President, American Vaping Association.
For more information, please see the following websites:
http://casaa.org – Join CASAA (for free), stay up to date on local calls-to action, find your elected officials, see their votes and statements on vaping matters and send them emails, get free printed advocacy material and buy CASAA apparel items.
http://sfata.org – Industry folks can join local chapters, find meetings to attend and stay up to date on current related events.
http://www.aemsa.org – Read the manufacturing standards, see a list of members and get links to research.
http://vaping.info – Find out more about the AVA, check recent news, read recent press releases and read vaper testimonials, as well as get links to related blogs and forums.
http://notblowingsmoke.org – Get the truth behind studies and press releases, educate yourself of the science and health benefits of vaping.