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.

Two New Studies Presented—Is Vaping a Smoking Gateway?


Photo by BBC.com

Photo by BBC.com

, professor of health behavior at The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, recently posted an article on both The Conversation and Fortune.com regarding two new studies involving teens and vaping as a gateway to smoking.

While the studies found that teens who tried e-cigs were “somewhat likelier to try smoked tobacco products,” Kozlowski said that future work still needs to assess whether it leads to regular smoking.

Here is Kozlowski’s edited version of her assessment of the studies. For her full story, visit http://fortune.com/2015/09/24/e-cigarette-use-vaping-gateway-regular-cigarette-use/.

The studies

These studies find evidence for a small association (or limited gateway) between e-cigarette use in nonsmokers and a progression to trying cigarettes in a one-year study period.

The more recent of the two studies was published in September 2015 (authored by Primack et al), in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers followed 694 12 to 26 year olds for a year. None had tried cigarette smoking at the study’s start, though 16 had tried e-cigarettes. (Perhaps the worthiest headline would be that only 2% of never-smokers tried e-cigarettes.)

A year later, 10% of the never-triers of e-cigarettes had taken at least one puff on a cigarette. But 38% (six of 16) of e-cigarette triers had taken at least one cigarette puff. This study focused on cigarettes and reports no information on prior hookah, cigar, marijuana, alcohol or smokeless tobacco use. If even two of the 16 were discounted because of prior use of other products, these results would likely be statistically insignificant.

The other study (authored by Leventhal et al) was published in August 2015 in JAMA. They followed 2,530 14-year-old school students for one year. None were smokers of any combustible tobacco products, including cigars, hookah and cigarettes at the start of the study, but 222 had tried e-cigarettes.

After 12 months, 25% of the e-cigarette triers had smoked at least one puff of a smoked tobacco product, compared to only 9% of the non-e-cigarette triers.

‘At least one puff’
Both studies found that young people who tried e-cigarettes were somewhat likelier to try smoked tobacco products, but that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes are a substantial gateway to regular smoking.

Rather than reporting usual measures of current smoking (i.e. any cigarettes in the past 30 days) or daily smoking, both studies used “at least one puff” or “just a few puffs” in the past six months or lifetime.

It is as if an apple researcher thought “taking at least one bite of an apple in the past six months” was an important measure of initiation of apple eating.

But, research shows that a puff on one cigarette is crudely linked with daily smoking. Following teenagers who had not yet puffed on a cigarette, they found that 48% took at least one puff in the 12-month follow-up period. But of those, only 20% became daily smokers.

Leventhal et al do acknowledge that future work needs to assess risks of “regular, frequent” smoking. Indeed, until we understand if the observed small gateway is only to experimentation or to frequent, dependent smoking, the more critical question is unanswered. In that only a subset of these observed gateway triers will move on to be regular smokers, it is almost certain that further followup of these samples will be unable to demonstrate a major gateway to heavy tobacco use.

Both studies also used a measure of “susceptibility” to smoking that is even more tenuously connected to becoming a future frequent smoker and also can be greatly discounted by assessing prior use of other drug products, including smokeless tobacco.

The gateways that aren’t
The observed gateway effects in these studies at best indicate some small increased chances of future smoking for the minority of these e-cigarette triers—not large, inexorable movement toward cigarettes for the majority. In fact, drug research has generally turned away from the scientific usefulness of causal drug gateway models.

Gateway models began in the 1950s when drug enforcement authorities warned that marijuana use caused deadly heroin use, which has not been found to be true.

Just as trying beer and liking it (or not) might incline one to try liquor (or not), prior use of one nicotine product can influence use of other nicotine products.

Drug research emphasizes so-called “common liability models” in which personal and contextual factors are taken into account as determinants of use or nonuse of products. While “products” themselves can influence the likelihood of using other products, it is important to consider “persons” as a factor determining use.

For example, if religious beliefs contribute to some teenagers not drinking alcohol, not smoking cigarettes, not using e-cigarettes, and at the same time lack of religious beliefs incline other teenagers to do these things, one would see an association between using these various products. Such an association is caused both by factors that influence nonuse of products as well as factors that influence use.

While these studies both attempted to different degrees to control contextual and personal factors that could be linked to smoking, this is easier said than done. The study from Leventhal et al does try to control for the use of alcohol, marijuana and smokeless tobacco (another nicotine product), but uses only one two-level measure of “any use” versus “no use” of all these products. Blunt tools lead to cruder results.

Science aside, gateway rhetoric has long been an important political tool. Fears that e-cigarettes are gateways to smoking are being used to justify policy or regulations. Yet, arguments for product regulations can be made forcefully, without needing to wave the gateway flag.

Where should research about e-cigarettes go?
Let’s flip the question these studies asked. Instead of only asking whether nonsmoking e-cigarettes users move to smoking, why not explore whether higher-risk e-cigarette triers who have also smoked products are prevented from becoming established smokers? Such a question surely needs better than the “one puff” measures of product usage and recruitment to smoking.

Leventhal et al found that 75% (the large majority) of baseline e-cigarette users did not smoke at 12-month follow-up, compared to 91% of nonusers of e-cigarettes. But we don’t know how many smokers who tried e-cigarettes in these age groups were still smoking (beyond a puff) in the future. By the limited logic of the current gateway research, patterns of reduced smoking for e-cigarette users compared to smokers could be interpreted as evidence of preventive effects.

What research should we be doing?
The tobacco and nicotine products are often already illegal for youth to purchase. But these products are legal for adults. The focus on minor gateway effects for youth should not distract from the need to explore policy and clinical questions about harm and disease risk from adult use of legal tobacco products.

Cost, convenience, perceived risks (and official messages about risks) as well as personal preferences can influence which among many products are most used.

It is important to understand interrelationships in tobacco/nicotine product use by adolescents and adults, but both the questions and measures need to be broadened. In addition to concerns for lower-risk youth, we need to assess patterns of product use in higher-risk youth who have tried multiple drugs (alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookahs) and often have mental health issues. We need to understand how best to prevent these youth from becoming regular users as adults of deadly smoked products.


VapeMentors to Host Webinars, Sponsorship Deadline Oct. 16

Vape-Mentors-Header-Transparent-BG-New-Tagline6VapeMentors is thrilled to share an exciting sponsorship opportunity with you and a unique way to reach thousands of vape space owners and employees. Please read this and make your decision quickly, as this opportunity will be only available until Oct. 16.

VapeMentors will be hosting two one-hour webinars entitled, “Knock, Knock. It’s the FDA Calling,” which will address how vape shop owners and other businesses can “future-proof” their vape shop (or e-liquid company, etc …) and not get shut down or hampered by the FDA.

  • On Mon., Oct. 26, at 5 p.m. PST, part I of this jam-packed one-hour FREE* webinar will be presented by Azim Chowdhury, an attorney with the DC-based firm Keller and Heckman and head of the firm’s FDA e-cigarette practice. Chowdhury has represented many e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturers, suppliers and trade associations in matters of FDA regulatory and corporate compliance.
  • Two nights later, on Wed., Oct. 28, at 5 p.m. PST, Bryan Haynes with Troutman Sanders, from Richmond, Va., part II will discuss the e-cig/closed systems/c-store market future scenarios. If you market to convenience stores or are concerned about the “open system vs. closed system” controversy, this is a must-attend session.

VapeMentors already has several sponsors lined up and are seeking other businesses that also see this as an incredible pr opportunity and way to reach vape shops with a great value-add. The VapeMentors team is reaching out to a limited number of potential sponsors at this time and will limit the number of sponsors at each level. The participation levels are as follows:

Gold Sponsorship ($3,000):

•              Top billing in all webinar promotions and emails to several mailing lists (VapeMentors and many others)

•              15-second live ad and one page slide in the live webinar and 30-second ad in the archived replay

•              Logo and link to your website

Silver Sponsorship ($1,500):

•              Secondary billing in all webinar promotions and emails

•              5-second live ad and listed among Silver Sponsors in the live webinar and 30-second ad in the archived replay

•              Logo and link to your website

Bronze Sponsorship ($500):

•              Mention in all webinar promotions and emails

•              Listed among the Bronze Sponsors in the live webinar and replay

•              Logo and link to your website

* This program will be free to any business or individual that verifies in its registration that they work for a vape shop, e-liquid or similar type company. The public is invited to join each webinar for $47, or $79 for both.

Regardless of whether you choose to sponsor this webinar, VapeMentors would love your support. VapeMentors will follow up with a draft of an email you may use to alert your followers to this important and timely webinar.

For more information, visit http://vapementors.com/.


Is Washington D.C.’s New Tax a ‘Gift’ to Big Tobacco?

imagesMichael Siegel has posted another editorial on TobaccoAnalysis.BlogSpot.com, and this time it addresses the 67 percent tax that came to the District of Columbia on Oct. 1. The high tax is on all vaping products.

Siegel cites another article that states that this tax will more than likely put many vape shops in D.C. out of business.

“This is one of the most insane ‘public health’ policies I’ve ever heard of. Taxing e-cigarettes at a whopping 67 percent rate is nothing more than a gift to Big Tobacco,” he said in his editorial. “Undoubtedly, it will put many vaping shops out of business, resulting in significant numbers of ex-smokers returning to smoking and many smokers who would otherwise have quit using e-cigarettes not doing so. The policy protects cigarette profits at the expense of the public’s health.”

How Should/Do You Approach Smokers?

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 4.13.29 PMAs vapers, we have a responsibility both to our industry and to smokers out there to simply do the right thing. GuideToVaping.com recently outlined some great reasons why.

  1. Every smoker is a potential future vaper. 
  2. Vapers are douche bags. Are we? Are you? What have you witnessed that should change?
  3. Our industry isn’t helping matters. We’re failing in education.
  4. How can we do it right? Conversation, communication and friendliness.

For the full story on what Daniel Hall thinks needs to change, visit http://guidetovaping.com/2015/09/20/vapers-embrace-smokers/.

Pierce County, Wash. Facing Ban, City Council Taking Public Comments


Photo by Epodunk.com

For those who live in Pierce County, Wash., now is the time to speak up. Kirotv.com reports that a proposed ban on vaping in public and work places (or 25 feet away from the property) has been brought to a Tacoma Pierce County Health Department meeting late last month. The ban includes stores that sell nicotine products and selling to minors

“The health department says it wants to bring electronic cigarette regulations in line with cigarettes, in part to cut down on teenagers using e-cigs,” the story says.

Vape shop owners were strongly opposed, saying that they do not sell to minors. The health department cited supposed chemicals found in e-cigs as another reason, while only one person in the crowd spoke in favor of the proposed bans.

The health department will take public input until Oct. 19, and the five-member board will vote in November.

For the full story, visit http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/ban-vaping-pierce-county-met-heavy-opposition/nnmrp/.


Vape Expo Poland Adds Exhibitors

unnamedAgent VAPE has received word about new exhibitors at Vape Expo Poland, which will be held Nov. 20-21.



Heartlandvapes is one of America’s largest wholesale manufacturers and distributors of e-liquid products.


Pacific Packaging Components, Inc. has been supplying customers with access to new and innovative packaging solutions since 1970 and has been one of the American industry leaders in vape/e-cigarette packaging for the past five years.




Revol Vapors is a new e-liquid company that was founded by Austin Hopper.

For more information, visit http://en.vapeexpo-poland.com/.

City of Chicago Facing Higher Tax Threat

Photo by vapesquad.com

Photo by vapesquad.com

Chicago is the highest-taxed cigarette city in the United States, according to a recent article on ATR.org, the Americans for Tax Reform site. And, according to the story, the taxes may go even higher in the form of e-cigarette taxing.

Democrats in the city are moving to tax electronic cigarettes the same as analog, tobacco filled cigarettes.

Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno is looking at an excise tax on e-cigs, amounting to $1.25 for each e-cigarette and 25 cents per mL of e-liquid. A hole in the budget is cited as one of the main reasons for the tax hike proposal, however ATR’s writer said that “Moreno’s proposal would do very little to fill the budget hole—it is projected to bring in less than $1 million, compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to balance the budget and make public employee pension payments.”

For the full story, visit http://www.atr.org/smoke-clears-real-reason-chicago-e-cig-tax.

Massachusettes Adjusting to New Sales Laws


Photo by VolcanoECigs.com

Photo by VolcanoECigs.com

Boston.CBSLocal.com reports that new regulations went into affect in Massachusetts Sept. 25. Regulations include:

  • no sales to minors under 18 (devices and liquids)
  • new childproof packaging has been put in place, under regulations “approved by the attorney general’s office.”
  • no promotional giveaways or free distribution of e-cigarettes
  • e-cigarettes must be kept out of customer reach
  • no vending machine sales (except in adults-only establishments)

All regulations went into affect last month, except for the packaging law. That’s set to begin March 15.

For the full story, visit http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/09/14/mass-regulations-on-sale-of-e-cigarettes-start-sept-25/.


FIVAPE Supports Totally Wicked Challenge of Article 20 of the EU Tobacco Products Directive

unnamedAgent VAPE received this press release regarding the latest in the challenge and FIVAPE’s support of Totally Wicked’s fight:

FIVAPE, the French Vaping Federation, supports Totally Wicked’s challenge of Article 20 of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg today.

At both the national and the European level, our organization is committed to supporting the vaping revolution, a disruptive innovation that has the power to end the global smoking epidemic, which constitutes the first European cause of preventable death.

Despite its potential, the vaping revolution is currently facing serious challenges. We believe that misleading information, fear of change and assimilation to tobacco products have already endangered vapor products, thereby jeopardising further harm reduction for the 10 million of European vapersToday’s hearing of Totally Wicked at the CJEU might mark a starting point for a more appropriate legislation, aiming to prevent subjecting e-cigarettes to a stricter regulation than that for conventional tobacco products.

As expressed by Totally Wicked, Fivape believes that the health and well-being of millions of Europeans is at stake today in Luxembourg. Article 20 of the TPD might cripple efforts to offer a 95% less harmful alternative to tobacco products: vapers and independent vaping companies have the right to call for proportionate and reasonable regulations.

Today, making available high-quality and secure electronic cigarettes as well as e-liquids is the independent vaping sector’s highest priority: Fivape and many other European companies have committed themselves to long-term and open partnerships with universities, laboratories and  public authorities. The independent vaping companies have further initiated national standardization procedures, which have already considerably raised product standards in France and the UK, and have moreover established a new technical committee at the European Committee for Standardization. All these efforts reflect the determination of our sector to engage itself in favour of a renewed and proportionate legal framework, at both national and European level.

Jean Moiroud, President of Fivape, said:

Fivape believes that sustainable open systems, freedom of choice and responsibility for consumers are key to successfully reduce tobacco-related harm. In order to achieve these aims, a sound legal framework is indispensable. Fivape maintains that Article 20 of the TPD is disproportionate and jeopardises the promising future of electronic cigarettes and professionals vapers in which European private sector, scientists, universities are showing a growing interest.

Fivape represents more than 500 French vape companies, among them the leading French producers and distributors. We strive to provide highest-quality electronic cigarettes and e-liquids to the currently three million French users. Fivape has committed itself to full independence from the tobacco industry and therefore has each member sign a declaration of absence of interests with manufacturers of conventional cigarettes and other tobacco products.


Vape Radio Hits All-Time High in September

September, 2015--82,563Vape Radio hit an all-time one month high in September of 82,563 worldwide downloads, a 25 percent increase from the August total of 65,549.

Norm Bour, host of the podcasts, thanks all of his faithful listeners—700,000 coming up soon!

To become a listener, visit http://vapenewsradio.podbean.com/.