Taking a Look at The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association

Taking a Look at The Smoke Free Alternatives
Trade Association

By Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA Executive Director

 

The e-cig industry is a disruptor, turning the tobacco industry on its head,
empowering consumers and creating a new multi-billion dollar industry. But, in the
long run who will be able to reap the windfall brought on by this nascent industry?

The World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and the Surgeon
General have for many years agreed that tobacco use is harmful, and in particular, that
smoking tobacco cigarettes is very harmful in various ways. Despite the well-known dangers
of cigarette smoking and the public policy arguments in favor of reducing tobacco consumption such as lower health care costs, efforts to reduce tobacco consumption have not been as effective as one would expect over the past several decades. Reducing tobacco use is a significant benefit that has the potential to change our society for the better and an objective that the FDA and anti-smoking groups across the globe have been trying to achieve for decades.

I believe a major problem right now is that FDA and anti smoking groups seem to view vapers and the act of vaping as indistinguishable from smokers and smoking when the two are in reality very different things. Given the stigma smoking has earned, and the harm it causes, there is a strong push by FDA, various Attorney Generals, and legislators at the federal, state and local levels. These groups and individuals confuse smoking with vaping and attempt to regulate vaporizers in the exact same manner as cigarettes. This doesn’t make sense, and would be a huge mistake on many levels as it would unfairly stifle the industry, deny millions of adults an alternative to tobacco and stifle one of the most prolific segments of our economy.  That’s bad news for an industry that’s largely comprised of small companies and entrepreneurially-minded individuals

The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) exists in part to help educate smaller and mid-sized companies as to what we consider to be acceptable advertising, manufacturing and marketing protocols and to serve as a powerful voice for them in our nation’s capital as well as in their own backyards where many of them are being unfairly treated as though they were tobacco companies. 

At SFATA we are constantly engaging and educating regulatory officials and legislators at the federal, state and local level on behalf of our members. Our membership grows each month as more companies look to collaborate to achieve common goals and to obtain guidance and support as the industry expands and become more complicated.

To date, SFATA is the largest e-cig trade association and is comprised of sophisticated companies in the industry who are looking to work together to help protect common interests.  Business owners and consumers of e-cigs and e-cig accessories can help in a variety of ways:

Become a member of SFATA. While different companies may not always agree on every initiative, as some affect others differently in the marketplace, its important to have an industry that speaks with a unified voice on the issues that everyone agrees are most important. SFATA is committed to engaging with government agencies and elected officials in an effective manner—to communicate industry messages that smaller and mid-size businesses would not normally able to convey. We employ FDA experts, as well as attorneys and staff who specialize in the areas that affect our industry and are able to be of the most help as they have a profound understanding of the regulatory, legal and business issues that are unique to the vaping community. 
The way consumers and business owners talk about vaping needs to be different.

As a business owner, your message and your right to communicate it, is different than that of a consumer and that’s an important distinction. A consumer can talk about his or her vaping experience with impunity and in ways businesses cannot.

A consumer can advocate about what they see as any benefit vaporizers provide them with. Perhaps the availability of flavors keeps that consumer interested in using his or her personal vaporizing device rather than tobacco cigarettes? Perhaps he or she has cut down use of tobacco cigarettes and have saved money? Perhaps he or she feels better having switched to vaping from smoking. There are many compelling, important and amazing stories that vapers share about how vaping has changed their lives for the better. It’s important that consumers and consumer advocacy groups make those statements so that elected officials, government agencies and others unfamiliar with vaping understand consumers’ point of view. 

Business owners have a responsibility to sell and advertise products as intended and governed by law. While it is fine for consumers to share their personal stories, business should never make or endorse health or smoking cessation claims. Doing so could, arguably, subject such a business to being regulated by the FDA as a tobacco product under the current state of the law.  

Instead, craft your message as a business owner and focus on the economic impact this product has given you. Focus on the jobs you’ve created, the taxes you pay, the properties you rent and how you’ve assisted your community financially.  Attend meetings and stay in tune with what is happening in your community. Visit the SFATA website to get more information about issues in your state. Rally your customers to attend meetings as well; have them share their stories.  It’s important to engage with legislators and be part of the process as they are responsible for making decisions that affect your community and they need to hear from you.

Whatever the case is, consumer or business, advocating for an industry and the right to use new technology requires a lot of work. Consumer and businesses that engage and communicate with lawmakers have the ability to effectuate positive change. Legislators care about and listen to their constituents. Our website has tools to contact elected officials and information business owners can utilize for themselves and relay to their elected officials and communities  in support of the industry.


For more information, visit www.sfata.org.

VAPE News Radio Now on Spreaker

spreakerVAPE News Radio listeners, and those who want to join the ranks, are in luck. Spreaker.com approached VAPE News Radio, asking the show to post onto the site.

Spreaker.com gives listeners access to “audio creators” who broadcast shows, tracks and playlists. Listeners also can upload their own muses and can share with other blogs, sites and social media.

The web and mobile app brings broadcasting tools and social networks to the masses, and allows creators to broadcast internationally. The application also streamlines the distribution process, allowing for easy sharing across all the major social networks, as well as providing attractive embeddable players onto any website.

To listen to VAPE News Radio on Spreaker, visit https://www.spreaker.com/show/vape-news-radio.

SFATA Reports 70,000 Comments to FDA

SFATA_Capitol-Hill_LOGO1113-A1SFATA’s October newsletter was full of great information, but perhaps one of the most important notes was that more than 70,000 comments were made during the public comment period for the Food and Drug Administration’s set of proposed deeming regulations. In fact, so many people commented that the initial public comment deadline, which was supposed to end in July, was extended an extra 30 days “after intense pressure on the agency given the broad scope of the regulation; its major potential economic impact on a variety of industries; and outstanding questions regarding the public health benefit.”

Regulations would extend the FDA’s authority to other tobacco products: cigars, pipe tobacco, electronic cigarettes, nicotine gels, hookah tobacco and dissolvables. So, it comes to no surprise that the most comments concerned premium cigars and vapor products.

For the latest news on FDA regulations in our industry, check back with Agent VAPE.

Deadline Approaching for FDA Workshop Panelists, Presenters

FDA-U-S-Food-and-Drug-AdministrationAgent VAPE recently reported about the FDA’s impending workshops coming up in December.

The FDA also is seeking presenters and panelists for the workshops. The deadline for presenters and panelists is sooner than the registration deadline, Nov. 4.

To be considered to serve as a presenter on the technical topics to be discussed at the workshop, you must submit a brief abstract and a one-page bio-sketch that describes and supports your scientific expertise on the topic(s) being presented. To serve as a panelist, you must provide a one-page bio-sketch that describes and supports the speakers’ scientific expertise, experience, research, etc. This information must be submitted to workshop.CTPOS@fda.hhs.gov by the deadline to be considered.

FDA Issues Grandfather Date Guidance

SFATA_Capitol-Hill_LOGO1113-A1SFATA’s recent newsletter reports that the FDA has issued final guidance that provides information on how manufacturers may demonstrate that a tobacco product was commercially marketed in the United States as of Feb. 15, 2007.

“Tobacco products commercially marketed as of Feb. 15, 2007 are known as ‘grandfathered tobacco products,’ and are not considered new tobacco products. As a result, grandfathered tobacco products are not subject to the premarket requirements of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C),” the newsletter reads.

SFATA reports that the FDA intends to limit its review of grandfathered status to regulated tobacco products—cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. For more information on the guidance, including how to submit a tobacco product for consideration, please visit the Guidance web page.

E-Liquids Made in Calgary ‘Basements, Bathrooms’ Due to Lack of Regulation

Travis Gerlitz smokes an e-cigarette at his shop Global Haze Electric Cigarette. Photo by Leah Hennel

Travis Gerlitz smokes an e-cigarette at his shop Global Haze Electric Cigarette. Photo by Leah Hennel

A lack of regulations on e-liquids in Canada, particularly Calgary, has everyone playing manufacturer, according to a recent interview in the Calgary Herald.

Travis Gerlitz, owner of Global Haze Electronic Cigarettes, told the Herald that “anybody and their dog can make this stuff” and even though some e-liquid manufacturers do make product in sterile environments, that there also are liquids that have no known origin.

Gerlitz urged the government to regulate to “stamp out shady operations brewing liquids without the same level of care” as those who do produce safe products and take precautions.

For the full story, visit http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/store+owner+says+lack+regulations+results+production+basements+bathrooms/10253447/story.html.

Mistic Moves Production From China to United States

Sergio Garcia, a lab technician, prepares flavor samples for customers during a tour of the Purilum facility in Greenville. Photo by Jill Knight of the News Observer.

Sergio Garcia, a lab technician, prepares flavor samples for customers during a tour of the Purilum facility in Greenville. Photo by Jill Knight of the News Observer.

From China to Charlotte, Mistic Electronic Cigarettes has made the move to the United States. With 60,000 retail stores to distribute to, Mistic claims to be the first national, independent e-cig company to fill, produce and assemble its entire product domestically, according to NewsObserver.com, based out of Greenville, N.C.

Mistic will share space with flavor company Purilum in the self described “tobacco country” of Greenville. Reasons cited for the move include better quality control and inventory management. Purilum also owns machines that assemble cartomizers, two of which replace about 300 Chinese factory workers. In the unofficial merge, Purilum also hopes to improve quality control and costs, in preparation for FDA regulations.

Some materials, such as batteries, still will be imported from China, and the company plans on releasing new products in time for the holidays.

For the full story, visit http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/09/30/4196366_e-cig-maker-mistic-shifts-production.html?rh=1.

 

Newest Public Health Supporters: Big Tobacco?

Replacement cartridges for MarkTen e-cigarettes, by the tobacco giant Altria, bear warnings far starker than cigarettes do. Photo by James Nieves/The New York Times

We’ve all seen the warning labels on analog cigarette packs: smoking is bad for your health; pregnant women should not smoke; nicotine is bad; keep out of reach of children. It may come as a surprise that Big Tobacco makers of e-cigarettes are shouting their biggest warnings yet on e-cig labels, or does it?

NYTimes.com reports that Big Tobacco is putting out the strongest health warnings in the e-cig market, “going even further than the familiar ones on actual cigarettes.”

Since the FDA has yet to regulate e-cigs, warnings are voluntary, and could be a maneuver to make Big Tobacco seem like the good guys, also adding warnings that e-cigs are not smoking cessation devices.

Whether this is a sincere attempt at honesty or an attempt to use reverse psychology remains to be seen.

For the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/business/dire-warnings-by-big-tobacco-on-e-smoking-.html?_r=1.

France Plans to Selectively Ban Public Vaping

2014-04-17T064039Z_1_CBREA3G0IJU00_RTROPTP_4_USA-HEALTH-ECIGARETTES-e1398281814345France24.com reports that e-cigarettes will be banned in “certain” public places, in an effort to make smoking less attractive. Smoking numbers in France are on the rise, 13 million adults and counting, amounting to one of the highest smoking rates in Europe.

New research finds that 18 percent of French people between the ages of 18 and 75 have tried electronic cigarettes, and while the publication’s reporting concludes that it’s better to vape than to smoke, cigarette smoking also will be banned in an effort to curb the gateway effect in non-smokers/vapers.

For more information, visit http://www.france24.com/en/20140925-france-wants-e-cig-ban-public-plain-cigarette-packs/,

Democrats Attack Magazines For E-Cig Ads Targeting Teens

Photo courtesy of RBR.com.Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, US Weekly, People and Time magazines are running ads that glorify the use of e-cigarettes, according to a recent report by Democratic legislators.

RBR.com reports that the Democratic group found that “tobacco companies continue to glamorize smoking in advertisements in magazine with large youth readership.”

The group urges magazines to cut the number of images regarding all cigarette, e-cigarette and tobacco product advertising, saying that this will help reduce teen smoking.

For the full story, visit http://rbr.com/mags-taken-to-task-for-e-cig-ads/.

Davidoff London Removes Tobacco Brands, Ushers in Vapelux

VapeluxIn a press release sent to Agent VAPE from SilverEGG Media in the UK, Davidoff London has announced to remove several brands of cigarettes and instead make the shift to vaping hardware and e-liquids from Vapelux.

Eddie Sahakian, Managing Director of the flagship Davidoff store, said in the statement: “We have been advised and work closely with Nick Roman from Vapelux Ltd. to ensure we have a complete range of high quality and genuine products suitable for the novice to intermediate user. Our customers are impressed by the selection, which includes the popular Vapelux disposables, starter kits and the premium e-liquids, together with genuine hardware and accessories from various international brands.”

Clive Bates, public health blogger, weighed in on the shift: “This looks like a very interesting move, to the extent that tobacco vendors replace their cigarette brands with vapor products, they are shifting into a better, more credible business model. The customers are looking for a new value proposition—from vapour products they can find much of what they like about smoking, but without the serious health risks and other downsides of smoking.”

Also a London-based company, Vapelux Ltd was launched in 2012 as it saw a gap in the market for superior and well-designed e-cigarettes, which not only tasted good, but also were attractively packaged. Other clients include Harrods, Selfridges and Partridges of Sloane Square to Cirque du Soir.

A report by Public Health England, part of the Dept of Health, earlier this year, stipulates that there are an estimated 1.3 million e-cigarette users in the UK with the e-cigarette market expected to be worth £340 million by 2015.