How Many Vape Shops Are There in the U.S.A.?

Washington State. Head shops have been around since the ‘60s and they offer vaping and e-cigs because, like smoke shops, they may have a captive and loyal audience.

E. C-Stores, or Convenience Stores: These are the 7-11’s, Circle K’s, AM-PM mini markets, and a host of other national and regional shops. These are stores you rarely are in for more than 10 minutes. You fill up with gas, grab a pack of e-cigs, or now, possibly liquids, maybe a Milky Way bar or a Slurpee and you’re on your way. They know little to nothing about the products and are a pure point of sale, but their sheer numbers make them noteworthy and a growing influencer.

F. Retail Drug and Food Stores: These are stores you go in to for shopping, maybe for food, maybe to fill a prescription, get some antiperspirant and personal products and “Hey, there’s some juice! Let me try one of those and might as well throw in a starter kit, too.” You may spend more time in this type of location but not as much as …

G. Mass Market Retailers: These are the big boys strictly in terms of physical size and stature in the business world. Costco sells e-cigs, as does Wal-Mart and Target stores plus many regional chains. Vaping products and liquids are just starting to intrude here and will be more prevalent asm time goes by.

What did I miss? The guy selling stuff from his trunk? Once upon a time they WERE a vape shop, but now they are pretty much extinct.

What about online and shopping carts? For this purpose and body count I’m excluding them since there is no way to get any type of definite numbers for them. They are physical locations but rarely are considered “retail.”

With all that being said, what do you think? Is there anyone we forgot?

When you ask the question, “How many Vape Shops are there?” as you can see, there are many answers and they can all be right. If we count the “A” Vape Shop category, about 6,000-7,000, but if we add in all these others you may hit the number you sometimes hear mentioned, about 35,000.

That is a lot of locations but still has a long way to go to come close to maxing out. CVS drug stores stopped selling cigarette and tobacco products, and e-cigs got into that mix as well.

The numbers will change but gradually and consistently go up and guaranteed, when we come back next year with Vape Directory 2015, I predict the numbers will be higher.

Questions?: Norm@Vapementors.com

 


Words and photo by Norm Bour



You have asked yourself that question
as have people all over the country. That
question started me on my journey as a
consultant in this industry in 2013 and
kept me up countless nights. Looking
back just more than a year ago (or longer) no one really had any ideas as to the “how many?” question, but as this industry grows and matures, some metrics and resources are growing along with it.

Before we get into the “how many” we really should define
the WHAT: WHAT is a Vape Shop? What do they look like,
and what are their characteristics? With that said I structured what I call The Definitive Guide to Vape Shops. See if you agree or not.

A. Vape Shops: These are pure focused shops dedicated
to newbies, offering starter kits, hardware, e-liquids of
many types and flavors, usually a tasting bar, information,
support and hand holding. On the other end they cater to the experts and hobbyists who can tear apart a mod with eyes closed as though he or she was in boot camp dismantling an M-16 rifle. How many are there? Indications and directories available total about 6,000-7,000 TRUE Vape Shops. That number has come from multiple sources, and until anyone proves otherwise I’m going with it.

B. Smoke Shops: These started out as exclusive
stores catering to smokers and offered cigarettes and tobacco in all forms, all analog, and most, about 60-75 percent, are now adding vaping products to their list. They are usually light on knowledge and serve a captive audience that comes in for one thing and may leave with another. They would be heavier in the e-cig/closed system segment as opposed to the juice, but due to generous profit margins, that is shifting.

Many of them have a loyal following, so that helps the conversion to digital smoking products.

C. Hybrids: These are stores that offer vape products
but also sell other things. It could be a clothing store or
something not related to smoking or e-liquid markets at all.
They see an opportunity and are there strictly to offer products, period—just a point of sale. This also can include hookah lounges unless they strongly cater to the VTM, vapor/tank/mod market, and if half their revenue is generated by these products I would put them in category “B” with Smoke Shops.

D. Head Shops: You know what they are; we know what they are. Everyone knows, but for legal purposes they sell, “smoking devices” to be used for legal products only, i.e., no marijuana. Exceptions right now are Colorado and

=

How Much is E-Liquid Really Worth?

 


Company/ Brand Name
We all know that brand name goods cost more than the generics. I would call 5 Pawns a brand name whereas the vape shop store brand would be the generic. Are you willing to pay more for a name brand? Vaping 5 Pawns may be a status symbol to some.

Mixologist/ Flavor Creation
I think this could be one of the most important measures on how much e-liquid costs. Is the flavor unique, complex and tasty? Can I make it myself? Was it hard to create or did someone throw a few different flavors in the bottle and slap some cool name on it like “Wizards Tit?”

Freshness / Steeping
I always see people advertising fresh e-juice, but in my experience most e-juice tastes better when it steeps for a while. If a seller takes the time to steep e-liquid it could be a reason for a higher price.

Presentation
This would be about the bottle, the label or anything else that looks related. It’s nice to get e-liquid in a classy looking glass bottle, but I think sometimes sellers go a bit overboard. I’m not interested in paying more just because a stupid plastic trinket is rubber banded to the bottle.

There’s a reason I don’t post many e-liquid deals; it’s just too hard to tell if the price of e-liquid is a good deal. There’s just too much range in price and variables to its value.

For the most part I don’t buy expensive e-liquid, I prefer to make it myself. With so many different e-liquid vendors it’s hard to tell who has the best e-liquid for the best price. For the most part, I won’t pay much for e-liquid. I know how cheap it can be made for and I don’t like getting ripped off.

Do you have a limit on how much you will pay for e-liquid?


If you want the cheapest e-liquid, your best bet is to buy all the ingredients separate and make it yourself. It can be very cheap; I pay about $0.06 cents per milliliter to make my own DIY e-liquid. You can even make it cheaper if you find deals like the ones I post on my website, http://VapingCheap.com.

However, if you don’t want to make it yourself and you still want cheap e-liquid, your best bet is a discount e-liquid supplier like Mt. Baker Vapor. It’s possible to get pre-made e-liquid for as little as $0.13 cents per milliliter when you buy a large 236 ml bottle and use a 10% percent off coupon code.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the super expensive “premium” e-juice lines. The well-known brand 5 Pawns sells a single 30 ml bottle of e-juice for $27.50. That works out to about $0.91 cents per milliliter. I personally have never vaped 5 Pawns because I’d rather spend $27 on a nice mechanical mod instead of a measly 30 ml bottle of e-juice. However, I’m open to trying a free sample if anyone from 5 Pawns is reading this.

The price on e-liquid can range anywhere from a few cents up to a dollar. That’s a huge difference considering all e-liquids contain the same basic ingredients.

Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are the base ingredients in e-liquid and usually make up for about 75 percent of the volume. They also happen to be the cheapest ingredients; even in small purchases the price drops below a penny per milliliter.

The other two ingredients, nicotine and flavoring, are more expensive but still relatively cheap. Nicotine liquid works out to about $0.15 cents per milliliter (100 mg strength) at My Freedom Smokes and flavoring costs about $0.17 cents per milliliter. If you were to buy these items direct from the manufacturer and in larger quantities the price would drop substantially.

When I discovered how cheap e-liquid is to make I started wondering what makes premium e-liquid worth so much. Here are the different things I came up with:

Quality of Ingredients
Like everything else higher quality usually means higher prices. I think e-juice companies should be more open about their base ingredients. If they have better nicotine, PG, or VG than other suppliers they should fill us in on how they know. Do they do any special testing? Most of the time I just hear words like “organic” and “premium” thrown around with no meaning.

Quality Control/ Lab
Is the liquid made in someone’s basement or is it made in an ISO 7 compliant clean room? How do they do quality control and ensure the product is made to the correct specifications? Sometimes I worry about all the new e-liquid suppliers popping up; just because you can make e-liquid doesn’t mean you’re ready to sell it.

Vapers Helping Vapers: The story you may not know


Occasionally I post on there as well, however the group hasn’t gotten a lot of action, and it would be nice if more people posted. Because along with the charity, one thing that the community is great at is coming together as a family and supporting each other on a spiritual level. For example, if we need to vent, we have friends to vent with. If we need to ask for advice or help on something, there is someone who might know or who might know someone who knows. It’s probably one of the greatest communities for something like that.


So that begs the question, if this is such a great community, and the community helps each other, why isn’t this story being told? Why aren’t we appealing to our governmental bodies and telling them that if they implement bans on e-cigs, they are also disbanding businesses as well as community. If they think they are saving lives, they really aren’t, they are killing them (but that’s another rant for another time).


The point really is this: This is the story that needs to be told. Besides our own personal stories about e-cigs helping us to become healthier as well as those around us (which not enough of those stories are being discussed), the community coming together and helping each other in a time of need is justas important.

So why aren’t we telling that story right now (when it’s most needed)? Perhaps it is because we are too stuck in the drama and care more about what another person says about us or what they did to someone else. Maybe we are so burnt out by all this political stuff that we feel as if nothing can be done or accomplished (yet it can, it has and it will). Perhaps we are relying too much on the activist angle and other people to fight for them, when as vapers we are all a part of the fight and all need to do our part. Maybe as some people have stated, we are too stuck on the shinnies and the clouds.


I’m not sure what the answer is, but the more we help and support each other (especially on an activist level and charity level) the stronger we can become. Instead of just being part of the online community we need to also reach out to the real community and the small businesses who care like we do and who would be willing to support a charity event that we are behind or sponsor. In addition, it’s time to put whatever disagreements, skepticism and whatever divides us aside and come together for the greater good. If other movements and communities can do this (especially if it has taken them years to do so) why can’t we? In fact, if we can come together for charity and help a fellow vaper, I wonder what great things we can do on the activist side and fight for our rights? In fact, why can’t we have the same activity on the activist side of vaping? Aren’t we still technically vapers helping vapers?


This is just one opinion on the situation.


About the Author: Susan E. Oser aka Angelwriterspeaks onVapenet (http://vapenet.com/) is an advocate for rights when it comes to vaping, equality and more. She currently works as a freelance writer and online tutor. She also has a FB knitting store/site for the vaper who is looking for something special to add to their vaping accessory collection which can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/knitzyknitz. Find her at http://www.angelwriterspeaks.com, http://twitter.com/angelwriter78 and https://www.facebook.com/Angelwriterspeaks?ref=hl. If you wish to contact her directly you can do so at: angelwritercreations@gmail.com.



By Susan Oser


Amongst all the news media stories, FDA regulations and even drama concerning the vaping community, there is one story that has been acknowledged but has yet to be told. This is the story of vapers helping vapers. To me, this is one of the best kept secrets of the vaping community that really shouldn’t be kept secret, because everything going on in our government as it relates to e-cigs and vaping concerns thevaping community at large and how vapers are helping vapers.

So what do I mean by Vapers Helping Vapers? It’s more than just a Facebook page (which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/helpavapor/). It is about helping someone within the vaping community who needs financial help (or other resources). It is about coming together despite the lines drawn between vaping network shows, shops and the like to help someone who needs it the most.

Around Christmas 2014, a member of the Blono Smoke family suffered a serious accident. His name was Dustin Otey, and he was almost pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics came to revive him and take him to the hospital. Because of the accident and the impending hospital bills, his wife and kids were in some serious financial debt. That’s when a few of members of the Vapenet channel put their heads together and organized and auction to raise money for the family. Word soon went out on Facebook, other vaping channels, and even to vendors asking them for help and donations. Soon, donations came pouring in before and during the event, which raised more than $40,000. To say that the family was grateful is a complete understatement and Otey is said to make progress almost every day.

If it is not a personal charity, there are big charities such as St. Baldrick’s in which the vaping community came together to raise money for various vendors who were going to participate. This included Vaping Watch, as well as Hooligan Vapes who raised thousands of dollars for the organization. Once again vendors donated. Once again the community came together. It also was a great chance in the online vaping community for vapers to come together in one or at least two channels to participate in the auction, as well as to raise money.

In taking the idea a step further I’ve created a Facebook group called https://www.facebook.com/groups/
vaperspraerand postiveenergygroup/
. This basically is a vaping group in which as a vaper you can go and post any prayers or good energy you need for whatever crummy thing is going on.

Vaping Vamp: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing


The FDA has finally weighed in on e-cigarettes with its deeming regulations.

But, the FDA’s proposal fails. Miserably. Because its proposal is based on the wrong premise: that e-cigarettes should be regulated under the Tobacco Control Act.

Let's not confuse e-cigarettes with the products that
kill a half million Americans every year. They're different. 

Dear FDA: 
Since when is a sheep the same as a wolf? E-cigarettes are NOT tobacco products. They do not contain tobacco. They’re technology products. And they should be regulated as such. 
Love, Maria

 

We’ve been waiting patiently since April 2011 when the FDA first announced its plans to regulate e-cigarettes. To say that its proposed regulations disappoint doesn’t even begin to touch how those of us in the industry feel.

Clearly, the FDA doesn’t understand the entire point of e-cigarettes. The reason e-cigarettes were invented was to mitigate the harm caused by cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products.

Putting them in the same category as tobacco products is like calling a sheep a wolf. One grazes and bleats. The other kills and eats.

E-cigarettes have grown overnight into a $1.2 billion industry because they address a key problem. One in every five—about 42 million Americans—still smokes, despite the well-known health risks. And that number hasn’t budged in years.

At least half of all smokers try to quit at least once—and many try to quit several times. But many are unsuccessful, because nicotine, which is NOT a carcinogen, is highly addictive. Quitting cold turkey is hard. The nicotine patch doesn’t work, for obvious reasons. Smokers are addicted to nicotine, but they’re also hooked on the habit.

The e-cigarette is a game changer in the smoking cessation market. (Yes, I just said “smoking cessation.” Please don’t report me to the FDA.)

All of the anecdotal evidence from millions of people who have switched to the e-cigarette is that they’ve reduced or eliminated smoking cigarettes altogether. They’re no longer taking in 4,000 chemicals and 60 known carcinogens into their lungs.

And while nearly a half million people have died every year of smoking-related diseases, not one person has died from e-cigarettes.

Sure, there have been some mishaps. Sure, we have a ways to go to ensure that these products and the e-liquids are as safe as possible. We also welcome and will propose regulations to prevent e-cigarettes from falling into the hands of minors.

However, I continue to laugh at the assertion that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking, given the fact that vaping is not just safer; it’s also cheaper than smoking. I don’t know one person who would switch to a product that will cost them more—do you?

I have a lot more to say about the FDA’s pending regulations. But I’ll save that rant for another day.


Maria Verven owns Vaping Vamps, the only e-cigarette brand created by women, for women. She sells the kinds of
e-cigarettes women prefer, including e-cigarette starter kits, refill cartomizers and e-cigarette cases.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

By Norm Bour


In 1968 the Beatles asked that question and said, “We all want to change the world,” and that is what all of us in the Vape Space are doing. Whether we are consumers, users or aficionados of e-cigs or mods, we are changing the world. If you have a brick and mortar shop or make liquid or accessories, you are not only part of the Revolution, but you are spearheading the EVOLUTION as well.

In order to have an effective revolution, people need to be engaged and brought together, and that is done through magazines such as this, our VAPE News Radio show, plus countless blogs that educate on the technicalities of vaping along with the business side as well. Add in local meetups and informal gatherings, and you have a core of separated power groups.

Another way that people engage is with larger gatherings that I have broken down into three categories: fests, conferences or trade shows/expos, which I define as a combination of the first two. This industry has evolved rapidly in the past two years, and in this calendar year we have seen close to three dozen events. My prediction: in 2015 there will be fewer.

To offer some insight on what type of event to attend and why, here is how I define them:

The “fest” is a party looking for a reason and a place to happen. Full of tats and piercings and usually as many consumers/users (B:C) as those in the business (B:B). These are noisy and vapory and include lots of giveaways since this crowd loves free shit. Fests will usually not offer much education, but it will offer lots of knowledge, networking, loud music and fun. And vapor!


Conferences or trade shows: These are more serious and industrial, more upscale, less noisy, usually attended by the “big boys” i.e., Big Tobacco, industry experts and speakers and heavy on updates, panels and education. Probably the king is the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), which will take place in Las Vegas (again), April 2015 and is by invitation or accreditations only, so it is considered a B:B event. Tobacco Plus Convenience Expo, also known as TCP, falls in to that category as well and invites convenience stores and retailers to discover what is new and upcoming—including this world of vaping that has intruded into their (retail) space. Las Vegas once again hosts in January 2015.

Expos: These are a blend of both and for lack of a label, I call them expos. They include music, though more subdued and also incorporates education along with the more fun events. More button down shirts than T’s and less scantily clad models, I see this model as being the one to emulate and one that seems to be gathering momentum.



In the past year I have attended or will be attending some type of vaping “event” nationwide, including:

• Long Beach, Calif. (Vapetoberfest)

• Las Vegas (NATO) and E-Cig Vegas

• Chicago (Vapor World Expo)

• Los Angeles (Vape Affiliate Marketing Conference)

• Salt Lake City (ViP Vape Street)

• Ontario, Calif. (ECC)

• Phoenix, Ariz. (Vapor Dynasty, October, 2014)

• Houston (Vape Summit, November, 2014)

As this industry continues to evolve, so is the technology, the entrepreneurs behind the business and the consumers themselves. Why would anyone—you perhaps—even want to attend any type event?

• great way to meet others in the business and

network your butts off

• get lots of free liquids, T-shirts and bling

• learn about new hardware and other accessories

you cannot even imagine

• have fun, damnit!

Recently the entire VAPE News Magazine/Radio team converged at ECC in Ontario, Calif., which was the largest gathering of vapers ever. With one and a half days to go they had an attendance of 17,000, and I project total attendance over two and a half days was about 25,000. Imagine that! From half that size just one year earlier at their inaugural event.

We at VAPE News Magazine would like your feedback. If you have been to an event we’d like to know how you rate it. Would you recommend it, and would you go again? The reason I predict that there will be fewer events next year is because the novices are being flushed out. There were several events this year that did not pull a crowd and disappointed the attendees as well as the vendors. In this industry you get ONE chance to make a good impression, so we want to highlight the winners and the professionals that are doing it right.

You say you want a Revolution? Be part of the battle and Change the World. Continued success in the Vape Space!
Questions and show feedback?

Email Norm@vapemz.com. Norm Bour is VAPE’s National Event Coordinator, along with being a contributing columnist and host of VAPE News Radio. As a business consultant specializing in the vaping industry, he founded www.VapeMentors.com and works with brick and mortar stores, e-liquid manufacturers and distributors. He also recently authored his book called “Vapreneur: YOUR guide to Mastering the Vape Space.”

   

Anatomy of a Successful Vape Shop

Anatomy of a Successful Vape Shop

By Norm Bour

There always is something new in this very exciting vape market. Whether you are a novice, just thinking about getting into the vape space, or maybe you are an old pro with a whopping couple of years under your belt, there always are new ways to (re)invent and market yourself. We get input and feedback from all over the United States and from overseas and wanted to share some observations and insight you can use.

Many things come in sets of “threes:”

1. Breakfast, lunch and dinner

2. The three primary colors of the spectrum

3. The Three Stooges!

But seriously, since I have been in too many vape shops to count I have identified what it takes to create a successful business. And, it is not always about money. Or location.

In our home turf of Orange County, Calif., we take out of town clients in for training to different shops in the area. After visiting many we have narrowed our tour down to three, and we are giving our opinion on two that are doing it really well and one that is missing the mark.

One of the current challenges in the marketplace is locations, since many cities have too many vape shops and others don’t want them. This has become a huge problem and in many cases a great location doesn’t always make you a great shop, even though you may be profitable.


Profile #1: Vintage Vapours, Lake Forest, Calif. (Rob Zahr) age 43
Opened:
November, 2013
Lines of juice: more than 50 brands, which varies, with more than 250 varieties
First business: This venture is a partnership of three friends, two brothers and Zahr, a successful entrepreneur in the credit card processing industry plus ownership in a real estate related company.

They did not start Vintage for the money, but Zahr smoked up to two packs a day for decades, and in 2009 he was introduced to his first e-cig, and he has not looked back.

All three owners have a deep entrepreneurial history, which is a significant advantage in this new and risky vape space. They use all hand-made components, and upon entering this location you can see that they spent a shit load in design and décor. Zahr said that   they were not creating a decor, but were creating environment, and he is spot on. The interior design is part of you and who you are and the type of experience you want to create. It is not always necessary to go into six-figure budgets but to have adequate money and spending it wisely, pays dividends.

What did Vintage really do right? No. 1: it hired the right people; No. 2: it established policies on customer service; No. 3: the store and the décor.

What should they have done differently? “Happy as is!” was Zahr’s reply.

Advice to those opening shop:

1. Don’t take on more than you can handle; do what

you can, don’t borrow money!

2. Stay realistic in your goals.

3. Grow through great service and go from there.

4. Stay true to brands, avoid clones (they carry none).

5. Join the vape community; advocate and support each

at all sectors.


This vape shop is a true showplace, one I take all our clients to visit. It is located in a high traffic shopping center on one of the busiest roads in Orange County.

Profile #2: E-Cig Emporium, Irvine, Calif. (Paul Gaudreau), age 50
Opened:
Thanksgiving, 2013. They were turned down by four landlords, which delayed their opening by several months.
Lines of juice: 16 brands, 200 flavors; goal is 275 flavors, reaching 20 brands. They suggest NOT buying entire lines, but find the top sellers and just get those. First business: Gaudreau had a successful consulting company servicing Fortune 500 businesses that he sold for big dollars, and he retired at 45. He realized he was bored, and as a long-term smoker he was introduced to vaping. He also owns a retail hobby store in Orange County.

What did he really do right? Gaudreau said that he created an image and brand that made anyone feel comfortable. His location is unique since he is amongst several large office buildings and caters to white collar clientele. Gaudreau was committed to a location in another city, signed a lease, and found out before he took over that the city would NOT permit it. He dodged a bullet by a close call.  

What should Gaudreau have done differently? The timing to open during the holidays was not planned and wished he had not done so.  

Advice to those opening shop:

1. Be sure the city you wish to operate in allows it.

2. Use money wisely. Gaudreau did a lot of work himself,

did flooring, $17K build out, $40K inventory.

3. Probably spent 20 percent TOO MUCH on inventory.

4. His guide: $12K juice, $8K in hardware.

5. Don’t need to spend a lot of money on inventory and

here’s his nicotine suggestions: (2) zero nic, (6) 3 nic,

(6) of 6 nic, (6) of 12, (2) of 18, NO 24. These numbers

reflect a pattern we notice as well.

He also completed a 35-page business plan that was submitted to the landlord. That allowed his lease approval, but I do not advocate you share your business plan with anyone, and in many cases it may be highly speculative.
Profile #3: a vape shop in a great beach community
Opened:
Spring, 2013

This little shop is about 1200 sq. ft. and has a comfortable feel about it, but the branding and messaging is a jumbled mess. They have a decent line of products, not as much hardware as they should, but there is no cohesiveness or efforts made to make the customer feel comfortable. It is eclectic, and not in a good way, with random posters, signs, décor, furnishings, display cases, etc. It’s light and bright and in a great location near the beach, but after taking many clients in, all left with the same thoughts: Something just wasn’t right.

They cater to the young surfer and beach crowd, but with just a few little tweaks they could make this a kick-ass location that could improve their revenue significantly.
Where do you fit in? What is unique about your location or the one you dream about? THIS is the most critical step in advance of making any plans or commitments.
Continued success in the vape space!.

   

E-liquids Claiming Larger Market Share

Faster Decline in Tobacco Usage Than Expected
Unfortunately for investors, while many are making positive
health choices by giving up their bad habits, the bonds are
headed for default. The majority is expected to reach that point
within the next decade. Though projections were expecting a two
or even a three percent drop in consumption, the annual decline
has been closer to 3.5 percent on average. Last year, the drop
was 4.9 percent, the highest level of decline since the excise tax
was passed in 2009.

In the past, the analysts blamed the banning of smoking in
public facilities and the excise taxes for declined consumption,
but the rapid decrease suggests that other factors are at play.

Anti-Smoking Ads Certainly part of the decline could be blamed
on government agencies’ efforts to spread the word about the
dangers of smoking.  The television ads of recent years are
rather explicit in their attempts to showcase the true
disfigurement that can occur after years of smoking. Among
those is this video, issued by the CDC.

Video URL:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Growing Vaporizer Trend The drop of nearly five percent last
year can be, in part, attributed to the growing popularity of
e-liquids. In 2013, United States citizens bought nearly a
billion fewer cigarettes than the year before, yet sales of
e-cigarettes doubled in that same time. By current estimates,
cigarette sales could decrease by nearly 70 percent by 2024,
while e-cig sales are expected to reach more than five million
units by that date.

States Getting Themselves into a Bind
The states were not truly acting irresponsibly, but at the
same time, many investors will be feeling a bit uneasy about now.
Even more frustrating for millions is the fact that the states
have not done with the money as they had proposed. The entire
purpose for the payments was to help cover some of the expense
attributed to the use of tobacco, such as medical expenses.
However, of the $100 billion paid out thus far, less than 15 percent
has been used for such reasons.

Now states are forced to seek funds from elsewhere as tobacco
payments come up short of what is owed to investors. New Jersey
has already withdrawn $12.5 million and it is expected that Ohio
will pull more than twice that from reserves.

What This Means for Bond Holders
The big attraction to the tobacco bonds was the high rate
of return promised.  According to the Standard and Poor’s Index,
they matured at 6.24 percent as compared to the 2.9 percent
earned on general muni bonds.

However, Moody’s now is suggesting that as many as 80 percent
of them are headed for default. Should the decline in tobacco
consumption reach rates of six or seven percent in the coming
years, the defaults could occur much sooner. The first cases
could be as soon as 2019.
By Jason Youk, CMO of VapeLuxury.com

There is a downward trend within a portion of the investment market that has some celebrating, while other nervously cling to dreams of proper payout. Outstanding tobacco bonds are looking more than a little volatile as smokers drop their bad habit in record numbers. Many are suggesting that the growth of the e-liquids market is partially at fault.

How Tobacco Bonds Work
In 1998, the tobacco companies and state government agencies finally saw eye-to-eye, creating the Master Settlement Agreement. This is now, informally, referred to as the MSA
and has resulted in 16 years of payments made from tobacco companies to 46 U.S. states. These payments are not fixed,
but vary depending annual tobacco shipments. The states
also receive a cut depending on their respective populations.

In order to get that money faster, many governments arranged the sale of bonds with appealing rates of return. The investors willing to put up sums upfront were rewarded with annual paybacks, as the tobacco funds arrived. Trouble arose when
the tobacco shipments declined and the payments coming in
did as well.

Rapid Growth in E-Cig Market
Though the government did expect a slight decline in tobacco usage over time, the drop has been nearly twice what was predicted. Many people feel that the soaring success of vaporizers and e-liquid flavors are the cause of the more
drastic drop in tobacco usage. The ability to get the nicotine
in a similar fashion, but without the toxins and within public establishments is a definite draw for many smokers. 

Though the sales remain miniscule when compared to those of traditional cigarettes, there were 2.2 billion dollars’ worth of
e-cigarettes and paraphernalia last year.  Some analysts believe that this niche could claim more than half of the total market within 10 years.

Reuters was among the first to report the possible merger between two tobacco giants, Reynolds American Inc. and
Lorillard Inc. What’s the attraction for Reynolds? Many believe that the deal has much to do with Lorillard’s ownership of
Blu e-cigarettes. Lorillard bought the leading e-cig brand for
$135 million a couple of years ago.

Victims and Vices

By the way, it might not be that healthy. No matter what you might be reading from people who feel compelled to cast e-cigs in the best possible light, there really is quite a bit we still don’t know about the long-term effects of taking in large amounts of vapor every day for years or decades. That’s not to say that vaping is anywhere near a health hazard on par with smoking, and medically, it seems unimaginable that it’s worse than fast food or the air in downtown L.A., but it might not be totally benign. Even if it is, it hasn’t been proven. Nor can we wait for the research to get to a point where we know, without a doubt, that vaping is safe. It took decades to prove that cigarettes are dangerous. Assuming vaping is at least mostly benign, how long will it take to confidently prove a negative?

But, never mind all that. This entire controversy isn’t really about the nuances of personal health. Think about this: there are tons of activities that are perfectly legal and basically unregulated in America where people take risks with their body. What makes vaping—and smoking—different?

Simply put, addiction makes them different. When you discuss what it means to live in a free country, addictive substances walk on a dangerous line, because freedom means preserving choices, and using something addictive means that it could thwart your will to make your own choices once addicted, as the convert vaper says. This gets complicated, because on the other hand, not allowing people to make these choices isn’t exactly the most freedom-friendly policy one can imagine, either.

So society has a choice between perspectives: either view the use of addictive substances like analogs and e-cigs as a personal choice where the individual holds the responsibility to gauge the risk over time, like when they deal with Big Macs, bungee jumping and vacations in shady parts of Mexico, or assume that people are vulnerable and must be protected from what, in the long run, is less of a choice and more of a trap. In a culture awash with Puritan moralism, where your health care is increasingly funded by taxpayers and that has spent half a century up to its ears in propaganda that associates exhaled clouds with cancer and emphysema, you know which way a lot of people will lean.

If you say that addiction made you helpless to cigarettes, you’re making the anti-vaping case for them. Since e-cigs generally still use nicotine and still can be expected to be addictive, every argument that’s been made against analogs can and will be used against us as vapor displaces them. We ask for this. Too many of us talk like America is trying to decide between cigarettes and vaping for title of America’s preferred vice. Nope.
By CJ Caswell
Vapers get into a lot of fights these days. I don’t mean “sweep the leg” physical fights, but arguments, usually about whether vaping should be allowable in society. Few hobbies draw the level of scorn vaping draws, what with all the exaggerated scare tactics and hand wringing every politician and mainstream media voice hurls with self-righteous fervor. So we must defend ourselves, and everyone has his or her own strategies for how to go about this, but there’s one particular type of vaping enthusiast we need to talk about. That’s the “convert vaper.”

You know this person. Hell, you might be this person. Tell me if you recognize this attitude: “I was once lost, doomed, enslaved, oppressed, addicted, I knew something was wrong, but I felt powerless. I was a smoker. The cigarettes, they had me in a chokehold. Dead man walking. Cancer, emphysema and offensive smells were my destiny. But I tell you, brothers and sisters, I found my savior! It is the electronic cigarette! Vaping is my salvation, my escape from certain death! Hallelujah! I have
been freed!!”
Sound a little familiar?

I see and hear this everywhere. The religious tone might not always be quite so bold, but if anything, the demonization of cigarettes often holds even more rancor and disgust. This person sounds like they were tricked, captured and literally held in a dungeon by a pack of menthols, his or her perspective emphasizing the victimhood of the e-cigarette convert. Now, while I love the enthusiasm, that particular argument is … well, it’s a problem. It’s going to hurt vaping in the long run, and it needs to stop.

But why? You may ask. Vaping really is a boon to public health!

Well, compared to what? If you mean it’s an improvement over cigarettes when closely monitored for quality, then that’s certainly true. Some politicians, like Senator Dick Blumenthal, agree with you and think that there is a place for them as aids to quitting analogs. But Blumenthal is no friend of the industry. He obviously believes that the only acceptable use for e-cigs is as a substitute—a temporary and not necessarily pleasant substitute—for Big Tobacco’s cancer sticks. He wants to get rid of flavorings like bubble gum and fruits. He wants them to be illegal to buy and sell online. And the controversies over diacetyl and acetyl propionyl look like great excuses to jump in with both feet on pricey regulation that may hurt small manufacturers. That all makes some sense if vaping exists just for the sake of your health, but that doesn’t sound like what vapers want.
The fight is with people who want you to put nothing in your lungs but fresh air.

They have a point. Look, if most vapers were concerned first and foremost for personal health, we would have found a way to quit everything long ago, without needing this kind of crutch. We don’t vape strictly, or even primarily, for health. We vape because we enjoy vaping. This should be okay, but if our main talking points revolve around comparing vaping to smoking and then calling e-cigs a medical miracle, then we’re building our house on sand. It won’t last.

I know that the convert argument is easy to make, and it works often enough. It’s nice to feel like you’re on the right side, for once. Long ago, before vapor took the country by storm and a lot of us smoked cigarettes, we simply had to deal with being talked down to by activists. Suddenly, the logic of harm reduction is on our side, right?

No, not really. You can imagine how they look at us now as we defend vaping, which is cheaper and still allowed in most public places: No matter what, they have to have the nicotine, and everything else seems to not matter. They just say what they need to say to keep it coming. Our children could end up like that! These poor, poor people. They need help! Ban everything! We cannot be that pathetic, using such a weak argument, and win. If you want to save vaping in the long run, you have to put the stress was on the autonomy of the individual, where it belongs. It’s an ideological approach, one with a certain point of
view that requires a bit of consistency. Don’t take on this view if you think that society holds an obligation to pay for your medical care down the road. Don’t take on this view if you expect that knowledge is something that other people owe you, as opposed to something you have to pursue yourself. And definitely don’t take on this view if you are uncomfortable with risk, which includes situations where your knowledge isn’t perfect.






Stay consistent on these ideas, and we can be left alone, too irritating to be worth going after constantly. This can work over the long run. If the vaping community is going to have a defensive strategy, this is what it needs to be. We can fight for what we like to do on honest terms, and most people will respect that. Most people aren’t sweating over our small-time vices.

We can keep it that way if we avoid the hysterical arguments, and start behaving like sensible people who simply aren’t going to tolerate stupid legal interference with our lives. Making the vaper out to be a victim in any sense can, and will, screw us out of the trust necessary to convince people that we can handle our own business. Respect comes from showing accountability, and addicts specialize in avoiding accountability. Vaping can’t be associated with that attitude.

Time to Raise the (Vapor) Bar

Time to Raise the (Vapor) Bar

By Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA Executive Director

 

In the face of tremendous uncertainty about the future of the vapor
products industry, many point to the fact that industries can “self-regulate.”
Theoretically that’s true, but the real question is whether the vapor industry
has the potential to regulate its behavior before federal regulations are instituted.

 

In my daily interaction with members of The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) and with people interested in the vapor space, invariably the question of when the industry will “become more responsible” comes up because the future of the industry rests with the FDA but also with itself. To paraphrase an old proverb, “the answer to the vapor industry’s problem is itself.”

 

We are facing increasingly incorrect and damaging news coverage—fear mongering about the products has become an easy way for the opposition to get attention—and we have a non-smoking and non-vaping public who still needs to be educated about vapor products and their potential.

 

Though unfortunate, it is undeniable that the “good guys” are judged alongside the worst players in the vapor space (and make no mistake, every industry has irresponsible participants). From profitable and well known companies to small mom and pop shops, there are plenty of people operating with a short term vision that involves lots of money (great) without regard for business ethics or responsibility (not great).

 

Frequently, I am asked what can be done to shine a light on responsible and proactive businesses and the answer is quite a bit.

 

While free T-shirts and e-liquid are fun, consumers, who can be extremely active and dedicated, can be the first line of defense in forcing quality products and practices by holding their vendors to a higher standard.

 

Consumers can ask their vendors and retailers how they approach and maintain quality control, industry advocacy and ethical business practices. Do their vendors test and properly label products? Does their vendor go the extra mile (or two) by engaging elected officials at the local, state and federal level to fight for the future of the vapor industry? Do their retailers participate in age verification programs like Age to Vape™? The answers to these questions will tell consumers which vendors are proactively responsible.

 

In a free market, consumers decide which businesses survive and which do not.  They will either buy from them because they believe in them or they won’t.  Consumers truly interested in a quality product will not shop based on price alone; some of the most popular e-liquid on the market is definitely not the least expensive; proving that consumers will pay to get what they consider to be a superior product.

 

Vendors and manufacturers can hold their fellow business owners to a higher standard by leveraging their relationships. Several e-liquid and hardware providers insist their distributors and customers toe the line by joining SFATA and participating in our Age To Vape™ in-store age verification program.

 

Similarly, retailers can refuse to purchase from manufacturers unable or unwilling to provide detailed testing information. Business owners can refuse to participate in “vapor events” that are not up to the professional standard common in other industries. Plenty of money is made on the vapor and trade show circuit, but little attention is paid to how these events are viewed externally.

 

When I hear statements like “the vapor industry is filled with cowboys” it makes me wonder how much thought is given to that statement—both by critics of the vapor industry and by those in the space who consider themselves mavericks. Cowboys were fearless guys that made things happen. They settled in inhospitable areas that went on to become some of America’s greatest cities, they held themselves and others to a code of ethics in an era where law enforcement was scarce, and they worked long and arduous hours while always trying to do better.

 

Confusing the spirit that motivated cowboys with the immature antics of some of the businesses currently in the space is insulting to cowboys. We judge ourselves on our intentions but the world judges us on our actions, and the same holds true of the vapor industry.

 

Many businesses have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into meeting regulatory and compliance requirements not yet demanded of them. They have instituted training programs worthy of Fortune 500 companies and keep looking for ways to improve. Consumers can support a product they believe in by purchasing from those companies that have made the investment of time and finances to ensure they are providing the best quality product possible.

 

Let us reward the consumers and business owners who are willing to do more by buying from them and supporting them in the fight to keep their products accessible and available.

 

For more information on e-cigs, visit www.sfata.org.

 

 

 

The Vaping Olympics: USA Vendors vs. Direct Chinese Manufacturers

SEEING THROUGH THE SMOKE

The Vaping Olympics: USA Vendors vs. Direct Chinese Manufacturers

By Steven Konowe / Vapers Helping Vapers

Very recently a quiet storm has been brewing in the vaping industry, one that has taken this quiet little thing we call an e-cig into a new realm of unconventional marketing. It seems that the direct Chinese manufacturers have come into the U.S. marketplace to put their stamp on their products in order to dilute the U.S. vendors that we have so loved and trusted for so long. In all fairness the fact that these Chinese manufactures are coming in here and selling direct has some positive quotations to this as well as the negative. I do know, however, that some U.S. vendors have altered their pricing to compete with this issue at hand. For this article I think we should look at all aspects pros and cons of this.  

Pros of Chinese Manufacturers: Products at Low Prices. 

Although you might pay a little more here, there are the benefits of dealing with a U.S. vendor. There is faster shipping and usually a better warranty on products. It is easy to have direct communication with a U.S. vendor. If you do your research you can find some U.S. vendors that are in direct competition with Chinese manufacturers. Amy McCann Baddi with www.usavapeshop.com is one of them. It is good to see that many U.S. vendors have lowered their pricing to accommodate the public. The other big pro to using a U.S. vendor is that they give back to the community at vape meets and with discounted products or helping with needs programs. When was the last time you saw a Chinese manufacturer go above and beyond like the U.S. vendors do? Also, I would rather put my money into this economy than another country..

Cons of Chinese Direct Manufacturers: Can Take a Long Time to Get Your Goods.

You also have to watch out for customs issues. It’s very important to make sure what you’re buying is what you’re getting. If your shipment does not come all together or a piece is missing, you will have to go through the drill of returning it. 

Cons of U.S. Vendors: Can Be More Pricier than Chinese Direct Manufacturers. The Selection Might Be As Large. 

While we are on this subject I would like to add a second part to this article called Clones or Knock Offs. I have as of late seen many different knock offs of brands com into the market and are selling like hot cakes because of the fact that you can get something that looks like the real thing for a lot less. This is an extremely controversial subject, so I am going to be as unbiased as possible. Vaping is a journey and what one person can afford the other might not be able to. Our goal as an industry is to keep people off of analogs in any way, shape or form. I have nothing against clones or knock offs.  I personally think clones and knock offs are a good idea for those who want the real thing but can not afford it. In a way many industries are based on this principle. I have a St. John’s Bay JC Penny polo shirt that I paid $12.99 for, and I have a Ralph Lauren polo that I paid $59.99 for. The funny thing is I love them both the same. I just use them at different times depending on the occasion. The only caution here is that a knock off or clone should be labeled as such; it should not be sold as the real thing. I also think that a clone should be stated somewhere on the site and not made to seem like the real deal. The logo also should be different. We live in a society where this goes on all the time and this discussion I am sure will be continued as we evolve.