If you are an advanced builder or have more than a few months of vaping with the use of an RDA, you’ve more than likely heard, “man, I want something crazy to vape!” “I want a crazy build!”
If you have built at or have been around a builder at a convention you’ve heard this for sure. However, a build that performs well as far as production and self-wicking is plenty crazy on its own. No, they won’t look like a 6 loop slentre. No, they won’t be that build everyone see’s and loses their mind over, but if you have only ever used a set of six wrap macro coils then fused claptons are plenty crazy.
Going from a single bare wire with zero self-wicking capabilities to a coil that allows for self-wicking, lower ramp
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time, etc. is CRAZY. When that fused coil begins to go to work heating up and producing vapor, the juice that has been trapped down in between those higher gauge wires is keeping that vapor just a bit cooler allowing for “better,” or a more pronounced, flavor. This is above and beyond anything that a subtank or t3s style tank could ever hope to provide. They come close but there is just no comparison to the vape of well-made coils in an RDA.
What is a fused clapton? Well, it is a coil comprised of two low gauge core wires then a higher gauge wire is wrapped on those low gauge wires fusing them together. This lowers the ohms while raising both wattage and voltage. It also increases the amount of amperage load on the batteries. CRAZY!
We just went from 1 ohm to subohming in one paragraph! Personally, I did not just stumble on to this innovative concept that ultimately opened up the creative and innovative process for further coil concepts. It was because of folks like Squidoode (on Instagram) and YouTube channels like the Art of Vaping (on YouTube.) These people sat down and explained the process of building and installing these types of coils for free! CRAZY!
A clapton coil, fused clapton, or even a tri-core alien is indeed crazy when you compare the vape experience to that of a t3s tank, a sub tank mini, a super tank, or a standard macro coil. So, if you are one of those who feel your build needs to be a lava monkey double back 5 loop slentre braided alien stovetop in order to fit the criteria of “something crazy” fear not, because you more than likely have not yet experienced the vape of a set of fused claptons or the elusive aliens. Which means you more than likely don’t have the time, patience, or means to build for yourself. However, there are plenty of good people/builders out there who are willing to build you something that will perform well while improving your vape experience.
The entire point of vaping as an alternative to smoking is just that, an alternative to something extremely poisonous and highly addictive. Building coils is great way to keep those idle hands busy and keep one’s mind off the rituals and habits that are formed after smoking for years and years.
This also allows for a possible growth in further understating what is happening when vaping as far as the mechanics are concerned. But feeling the need for something that is built out of experimentation and or has turned into a hobby is missing the point all together. Seek out a way to improve your experience with vaping as a safer alternative to vaping not as a way to impress your friends.
Sam McClelland is an owner and builder for Clean Builds LLC. Follow him and his crazy builds on IG @builds_and_junk and at cleanbuilds.net/.
Two related bills, SB-5 and SB-7, were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on May 4, the eve of the FDA’s deeming regulation. These bills will dramatically change the way that the vapor industry is regulated in the Golden State.
The headline is that these bills (i.) treat vapor products like tobacco products for regulatory purposes, and (ii.) raise the purchasing age for tobacco products (now including vapor products) to 21. This article digs into the actual text of these bills and explains what it means to treat vapor products, legally speaking, like tobacco products.
Overview of SB-5:
SB-5 was introduced by California State Senator Mark Leno (D – San Francisco) on July 16, 2015. Its primary function is amending the statute that defines “smoking” and “tobacco product.” The official state definition of “smoking” would be as follows:
“‘Smoking’ means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, or pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation, whether natural or synthetic, in any manner or form. ‘Smoking’ includes the use of an electronic smoking device that creates an aerosol or vapor, in any manner or in any form, or the use of any oral smoking device for the purpose of circumventing the prohibition of smoking.”
The definition of “tobacco product” will be amended to include “an electronic device that delivers nicotine or other vaporized liquids to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe, or hookah.”
This bill brings vape shops within the California Business & Professions Code’s definition of a “tobacco store,” which is any store that primarily sells or generates more than 60 percent of its annual revenue from the sale of “tobacco products.” This means that, when SB-5 becomes effective, vape shop owners will need to comply with the requirement that tobacco store proprietors apply for and obtain a license. As proposed in the bill, the fee for this would be $265 annually.
Compliance with the licensure requirements, is now an absolute must for shop owners. Section 22980.2 of the Business & Professions Code provides that (a) any person who engages in the sale of tobacco products without a license is guilty of a misdemeanor (including the officers of any corporation that engages in unlicensed sales), and (b) each day of sales after notification that a person must be licensed constitutes a separate violation.
SB-5 also amends section 1947.5 of the Civil Code to allow landlords to prohibit vaping when they lease apartments. (How any landlord would ever know that his tenants are vaping in the privacy of their own apartments is anyone’s guess.) Additionally, section 7597 of the Government Code will be amended to prohibit vaping within 20 feet from the entrance of a government building. So, if you were planning to organize a cloud competition outside the entrance to a DMV office, it’s probably best to put that on hold for now.
There are a few other minor changes in the bill. For instance, it amends section 1596.795 of the Health and Safety Code to prohibit anyone from vaping in a “family day care home” where children are present. Section 104495(b) will be amended to
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prohibit vaping within 25 feet of a playground or “tot lot sandbox area.” Section 114371(f) of the Health and Safety Code will be amended to prohibit vaping at farmer’s markets, which is something that anyone who sells their e-liquid at swap meets may wish to keep in mind.
Overview of SB-7:
This bill amends the Business & Professions Code to raise the purchasing age for tobacco products (which, thanks to SB-5, now means vapor products) from 18 to 21 for everyone except active duty military members. The bill explicitly directs the California Department of Public Health to conduct “random onsite sting operations” at retail stores, and owners of vape shops can bet that they’ll be hit.
This bill will also require “retailers of tobacco products” (meaning, per SB-5, vape shops) to “post conspicuously, at each point of purchase, a notice stating that selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age is illegal and subject to penalties.” These mandatory warning signs must also, per Business & Professions Code § 22952(b), reference a toll-free number where customers can call the Department of Public Health to report shop owners if they suspect sales of tobacco products to underage persons. (Because nothing says “we live in a free society” quite like mandating that vape shop owners post a 1-800 number where concerned citizens can report the oh-so-grievous crime of selling vape juice to a 20-year-old.)
Under SB-7, shops that sell to under-21 customers can be hit with civil penalties ranging from $400 to $6,000, as well as potential sales license revocation and additional fines from the State Board of Equalization. Additionally, SB-7 prohibits by-mail sales of “tobacco products” to customers under 21, meaning that companies that sell e-liquid to California customers are suddenly taking a bigger risk.
Analysis of Both Bills:
California’s Legislature decided to regulate vaping like smoking because (to the extent there was any rationale whatsoever) it looks a bit like smoking. But regulating vapor products like tobacco products because vaping looks like smoking makes about as much sense as requiring a driver’s license to play with Hot Wheels. But the Legislature’s motives become a bit more clear when one considers the fact that the phrase “tobacco product” appears 127 times in the California Revenue and Taxation Code. These bills are hollow moralist grandstanding combined with a good old fashioned money grab.
California voters, whether or not they vape, should be outraged. In a free society, the burden of proof should always be on the proponent of a law that seeks to restrict the behavior of adults. If the Legislature wants to regulate vaping like smoking, then it should be the Legislature’s burden to prove that vaping is, medically speaking, anything like smoking. Not only has the Legislature failed to meet its burden here, it hasn’t even tried. The rights of Californians are being chipped away, and the government isn’t even pretending to offer a reason why. But however ill-conceived these bills may be, vapor industry companies that do business in California would do well to learn the new rules of the road.
It was the day after Father’s Day and I woke with each partial breath causing me to cough uncontrollably. The desire to cough outweighed the need for air. Pain burned my lungs. My chest felt like it were in an invisible vice.
That will be two years ago June 16. During my smoking years I caustically referred to myself as a professional smoker. I smoked for sixteen years, and an average week for me consisted of four cartons — more if it were a stressful week. My addiction was worse than any other smoker I knew. Working from home offered more chances to chain smoke than what most people had.
I knew smoking was killing me.
Mowing the lawn winded me, definitely not typical of a 33 year-old in good health besides being a smoker. I’d tried to stop smoking cigarettes many times before. I tried going cold turkey five times. I tried nicotine patches, gum, and the convenience store e cigarettes like Blu, Premium, and Krave; nothing worked.
By coincidence, fate, or an intervention by the vaping gods, I learned of vaping through brother-in-law. We had a Father’s Day cookout and he’d stopped smoking a month prior. He invited me to take a trip to a local vape shop, Precious Vapes, in my hometown of Madison, Tennessee.
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I wasn’t impressed because I figured this was the same as what I was buying at the convenience store. When he offered me to take a vape off of his spinner mod, I shrugged and decided why not?
I admitted it tasted better and felt more natural than what I’d experienced with the pseudo-cigarette vapes. I also expected that to be the end of it. Yet, that morning I realized how tobacco was slowly killing me in a way that I could no longer ignore.
That morning, after the ache inducing cough subsided, I went back to Precious Vapes. Since I was the only customer in the store I was forward with Steve. I expected sales hype, but instead found someone who understood what I’d experienced.
Steve set me up with a 900maH spinner, the KangerTech Micro Pro-tank III, and a bottle of 24mg e juice. My last cigarette ever was lit three hours after that. Unexpectedly, I found that vaping caused me to actually taste the cigarette for the first time in years. When I would try to smoke, it was like licking a stale ashtray.
My initial concern when I could no longer tolerate the taste of a cigarette anymore was “am I switching one addiction for another?” I pushed that idea concern aside and I continued down the road that finally took me away from cigarettes.
Suddenly, I noticed that 24mg was too strong. I began to go lower, until 6mg became my standard before the end of my first year.
Then the concern I’d pushed aside returned to haunt me. After being prisoner of tobacco for so long I had to know the truth. At the first of the year I put down my mods expecting withdrawals similar — if not identical — to cigarettes. To my surprise I only missed the taste. Now three days shy of four whole months without vaping nicotine, I purchased a bottle of 3mg. It wasn’t because of craving nicotine, but because I missed one of my favorite flavors that didn’t taste right without the nicotine.
Now as I sit here and close this with my mod in hand, I finally understand what the phrase, “Vape for life” means to me.
It means mowing the lawn without being winded.
It means being able to hike two miles to the mechanic to pick up your car.
It means nature trails, renaissance festivals, extended shopping trips, and different conventions.
It means vaping fits your life, instead of making you a prisoner to death.
Among the handful of issues that create negative attention for the vapor industry, accidents stemming from poor battery care are among the most frustrating. They harm the industry as a whole, feeding the misguided image that is painted daily of vapers. The worst part, though, is that they are entirely preventable.
When video footage appears of a battery venting in someone’s pocket or venting in a device near someone’s face, the damage done to the industry as a whole grows exponentially. While proper battery care is the responsibility of the owner, the first line of defense takes place at the shop.
Yes, many batteries are purchased second-hand, but the majority of sales are still coming from brick and mortar shops. This column isn’t to throw shops under the bus, but to remind everyone
When a store gets busy, it’s easy to rush through or skip the battery safety lecture — but with battery accidents becoming more common the need is greater than even to insure the public understands proper care.
Following are a few simple tips that will take sales clerks only a few seconds per customer:
Ask a customer if they understand proper battery care and maintenance.
Offer an explanation — explaining the importance of battery marriage, the danger of counterfeit batteries, the importance of smooth, in tact battery wraps.
Explain the danger of improperly inserting a battery.
Have a sheet to handout with the basics. ZampleBox has excellent sheets and posters that can be downloaded and distributed free of charge. Use them — it’s worth the ink. As the first line of defense, I would argue it should be a responsibility.
Offer FREE battery wraps. Battery wraps cost only a few cents and take seconds to install — far less time than a build or changing a coil. If this service prevents even one unnecessary accident, it will be worth the pennies.
Explain the proper use of a hybrid connection. With the rise in popularity of such devices, this is becoming increasingly important.
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Offer a trade-in service. Shave a percentage off the cost of new batteries for bringing in old batteries for proper disposal. Quite often these batteries wind up changing hands in trades and are the ultimate enemy of safe vaping.
Stress the importance of changing batteries in six to 12 month intervals depending on their level of usage..
Only order batteries from trustworthy outlets. With countless rewrap companies and counterfeit batteries running rampant, don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution.
Adjust your battery prices to accommodate for including a battery box with each pair. The simple, plastic box that holds two is fine and they are dirt cheap at wholesale. The fact that vapers have to buy them separately makes them far less likely to purchase them.
Stop selling lousy chargers. Stick with the known and trusted chargers — Nitecore, Xtar and the Efest LUC series. All of these are time-tested and proven chargers.
Explain ohm’s law to anyone and everyone who will listen. Offer to check their builds. Show them how to do it themselves.
The most important role for any vape shop employee is that of a teacher. Treat each customer like they’re brand new. When times are busy, at least use the handouts.
While the ultimate responsibility falls on the individual vaper, tragic and careless accidents are harmful for the entire industry. If everyone steps up, most of these can be prevented. Our industry garners enough bad publicity without us contributing to the problem.
These same ideas apply to vapers themselves, not just stores. When you see your friends taking unnecessary risks, step in. Say something. Do it to protect your rights as a vaper and to ensure your friend — or customer — doesn’t become just another story on the evening news.
If we all do our part, the majority of these accidents can be prevented.
Corey Noles is the managing editor of VAPE Magazine. He has worked as a journalist since 2004 covering countless topics and is the owner/founder of Inked Up E-Liquid Co.
Being Tasty Isn’t the Only Secret to Tasty Vapor’s Success
By Maria Verven
Being ‘tasty’ is important to vapers. But sometimes simply being tasty isn’t enough in a competitive marketplace.
Tasty Vapor initially took off by virtue of the quality of their products, but ultimately found that marketing would be the ultimate key to their success.
The idea for Tasty Vapor started on July 13, 2009, one month after owner/founder Geoff Braithwaite picked up his first vaporizer.
“After 29 years as a pack-a-day smoker and having tried a number of approved cessation products with little or no success, I was at a crossroads,” he said. “I needed to do something differently or prepare to suffer some very severe health concerns, which I was already beginning to feel. After making a complete switch from analogs to a personal vaporizer and marveling at how quickly I was seeing results, I understood what this could mean to people like myself who felt doomed to a life of smoking.”
At the time, most products were coming from China, and “tasted only vaguely like their proclaimed labels.” Braithwaite wanted to create something he had more faith would keep him and others from resuming their former habit.
“I knew flavor was a key dissociative tool in the migration from combusted tobacco,” he said.
Formerly a prep cook, sous chef and supervising cook in Oakland, Calif., Braithwaite knew his way around flavoring. He decided to try his hand at creating e-liquids.
“I’m self-taught in everything I do. At the time, when the flavors on the market were simple cherry, strawberry, chocolate and tobacco, we began making flavors like German chocolate cake, Butterfinger, atomic fireball, pina colada, and so on,” he said. “We were able to successfully translate actual dessert recipes into e-liquid recipes.”
An Instant Hit on ECF
At first, they weren’t quite sure where or how to market. Traditional search engine marketing strategies such as Google AdWords and Facebook ads are closed to vape companies. But the Electronic Cigarette Forum (ECF) was already attracting thousands of vape enthusiasts.
Braithwaite began bragging about Tasty Vapor’s flavors and found they were an instant hit. “Customers were finding us through word of mouth,” he said. “We literally didn’t have to do any marketing at all.”
Tasty Vapor also differentiates itself by giving consumers lots of options in their e-liquids. Boasting their products are more ‘homemade,’ they allow consumers to choose among dozens of unique flavors and determine the nicotine level as well as the sweetener and PG/VG ratio. They then ‘hand-mix’ the order in an OSHA regulated clean-lab and ship it out within 72 hours.
Nineteen of Tasty Vapor’s most popular flavors are available in 6mg, 12mg and 18mg nicotine in 15ml bottles with 20 or 50 percent VG. Flavorings, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are certified USP grade, and nicotine is pharmaceutical grade.
But as the vape industry took off like wildfire, vape shops and e-liquid manufacturers began popping up all over. Now that consumers were faced with many more choices, Tasty Vapor had a more difficult time competing.
“Like any business that needs to stay relevant and competitive, we were faced with some tough decisions. We ultimately decided we needed a marketing firm,” Braithwaite said. “We knew we needed to step things up, rebrand, revamp and do something that made us stand out.”
They shopped around a while until landing on Eventige. “Their people had the skill sets and enthusiasm we were looking for in stepping up our game.”
Marketing Vape Products – Not an Easy Task
Based in New York City, Eventige represents dozens of clients, from Habitat for Humanity to Skype, Uber and The Wall Street Journal. But what makes them unique in the marketing world is their focus on the vape industry. Alexei Alankin, Eventige CEO and founder, is a vaper who also understands how and where vape products can be marketed – and where they’re prohibited.
With more and more controversy surrounding vape products, marketing strategies must never be interpreted as ‘kid-friendly’ or appear to appeal to a younger age bracket. It can be a challenge for traditional marketing agencies that don’t understand that the focus must be on the community of vapers who already use these products.
Eventige first conducted a comprehensive brand positioning that laid out a strategic marketing roadmap for Tasty Vapor’s business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) channels. Eventige essentially took over the marketing side of things, freeing Braithwaite and his internal team up to focus on R&D and manufacturing.
One of the first steps was to refine Tasty Vapor’s corporate identity just in time for a busy round of trade shows in 2015, starting with Vape Fest in February. Tasty Vapor’s website, trade show materials, and media kits and social media platforms were ‘Tiki-fied’ with a fun and playful Tiki theme. Each flavor – from Alien Blood to Waffles – was enhanced with visually appealing images.
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“Until Eventige, we didn’t attend tradeshows because we simply didn’t have the necessary gear that would make us a standout at the shows,” Braithwaite said. “They helped us with all the amenities and products we needed to participate at that level. It’s been our best marketing strategy because we can catch the attention of potential clients and engage them directly.”
Eventige overhauled Tasty Vapor’s e-commerce system and deployed an inbound customer relationship management (CRM) system, creating a clear sales roadmap for inbound leads. At the same time, they took the age-to-vape program seriously, and implemented an age verification system from Veratad.
Eventige helped triple the number of fans and double the level of engagement on Tasty Vapor’s social media channels by merging several disparate Facebook accounts and implementing social media automation and engagement systems.
Tasty Vapor continued to push the envelope for product development, eventually ending up with some 77 e-liquid flavors.
What does the future hold for Tasty Vapor?
“Like all companies, we hope to do what is necessary to increase the longevity of our company and our role in this industry,” Braithwaite said. “We do what we can to stay relevant and we continue to formulate new and delicious recipes — the very thing that made us famous.”
Tasty Vapor also plays an active role in SFATA, the Smokefree Alternatives Trade Association, by supporting advocacy efforts and educating local, state and federal representatives. “We want everyone to know what these products mean to people like me, who felt doomed to a life of smoking,” Braithwaite said.
“While I would like the simple task of running my business, I see being active on the advocacy side as product insurance,” he said. “So, I’m doing my part to be absolutely sure there is an industry to be competitive in!”
The original “Vaping VampTM,” Maria Verven is a 35-year P.R. veteran and owner of Verve P.R, a marketing firm focused on the vape industry.
May 20 is the Deadline to Comply with the European Tobacco Products Directive (EU TPD)
by: Maria Verven
Any e-liquid manufacturer selling in Europe must know what these initials mean, because it’ll be the law on May 20 this year. The European Tobacco Products Directive (EU TPD) has set reporting, guidance and restrictions on cigarettes since 2001 and in May, the TPD’s Article 20 will regulate e-cigarettes as well.
“The TPD will affect every e-liquid or e-cigarette manufacturer selling in any one of the EU’s 28 countries,” said Dennis Moore, founder and CEO of Chemular, a full-service regulatory consulting firm that boasts the largest team of compliance, manufacturing software and engineering experts specializing in the U.S. vaping industry.
Moore and the Chemular team are currently helping e-liquid companies gain compliance with the TPD while lowering their liability risk by following best of-class quality practices. A former FDA investigator and regulatory expert, Moore is highly qualified to help companies negotiate the TPD’s quality standards as well as the labyrinth inside the FDA.
What does complying with the TPD mean, exactly? The TPD requires companies to submit a dossier including detailed toxicology and emissions data on every flavor I every nicotine level that flavor comes in. A technical file must also be submitted on any new product at least six months prior to launch.
While hiring an attorney isn’t necessary, most companies need the guidance of regulatory and quality professionals to help them prepare the technical file and registration dossier. The process can take several weeks, and if the deadline isn’t met, sales are banned for six months.
What’s Wrong with the TPD
The main issue with Article 20 of the TPD – like the FDA’s deeming regulations – is it fails to recognize where vaping products fall in the risk continuum, according to Robert Burton, Chemular’s chief scientific officer and former head of regulatory affairs for White Cloud. “Cigarettes are the most harmful things on the tobacco harm reduction risk continuum,” said Burton. “But the way the TPD is written, it doesn’t support that.” Burton first started working with the TPD on the tobacco side over nine years ago. “Like many of these regulations, they’re not appropriate for vaping products,” he said.
“E-cigarettes and vaping products have been inappropriately squeezed into these regulations.” Regardless, the TPD is a fact of life that e-liquid companies will have to live with. The only exception is zero nicotine e-liquids or e-cigarettes; if they don’t contain nicotine, they don’t fall under the TPD.
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A simple way to remember three key hallmarks of the TPD is 20-20-10. May 20 is the deadline. 20 mg is the maximum nicotine concentration. And 10 ml is the maximum bottle size.
With May 20, 2016, as the final compliance deadline, each of the 28 European member states may adopt some or all of the TPD guidelines – or come up with its own. So far, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the U.K. have fully adopted the TPD’s guidelines, while the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland have partially adopted them.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden have yet to adopt any guidelines, although Moore expects these countries to simply adopt the TPD rulebook, as it stands.
“When you’re dealing with 28 member states, it’s quite a complicated matrix,” Moore said. He explained that the format of the dossier varies from member state to member state, depending on their sophistication and ability to deal with proprietary information. For example, some countries require an electronic ingredient disclosure while others ask for password-protected CD-ROMs, he said.
In another example, member states can demand the full health warning on e-liquid and e-cigarette packaging: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for use by non-smokers.” A simpler version is also allowed: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.”
The TPD also demands that companies include a leaflet with instructions for use and storage of the product, warnings against use by young people and non-smokers, and contra-indications for specif ic risk groups such as pregnant women. Information on the product’s addictiveness, toxicity, potential adverse effects as well as contact details for the manufacturer or importer is also necessary.
E-liquid bottles must list all ingredients in descending order as well as indicate the exact nicotine concentration. Nicotine levels are restricted to 2 percent or 20 milligrams per milliliter.
Bottles and containers containing nicotine e-liquids must be child- and tamper-proof.
Plus, the TPD restricts the size of e-liquid bottles and tanks; bottles may not be larger than 10 ml and the device chamber size, including coils, may not exceed 2 ml.
“This, again, is counterintuitive,” Burton said. “Vapers, and especially those who desire higher nicotine concentrations, will have to carry around more liquid with them.”
Gaining Favor with Flavor Companies
Perhaps the greatest burden on e-liquid manufacturers is that the TPD demands they provide detailed specifications on each flavor and flavor ingredient.
A technical file, which includes a list of all ingredients, is much like a medical device file, Moore explained. The final dossier would include a toxicology assessment and emissions test on each SKU and ingredient along with the artwork, instructions for use and disclosure requirements for each member state.
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Moore said they’re doing preliminary emissions testing to see which flavors may be of most interest to regulators. “Some flavors such as cinnamon and licorice contain aldehyde molecules have raised some concerns,” he said.
The biggest hurdle may not be the time or money to complete this dossier, Moore said. The main sticking point could be with flavor companies that may be reluctant to divulge their flavor ingredients because they’re literally their secret sauce.
Moore said Chemular is working with flavor shops to create a third-party repository process where flavor shops submit detailed flavor compounds under a very strict non-disclosure.
Since it’s likely that the FDA will be on the same regulatory trail, Chemular is working to gain the confidence of flavor manufacturers to give up this proprietary information. “If the flavor facilities won’t divulge molecular information on their flavor compounds, they’re simply not going to survive in the newly regulated environment,” Moore said.
Getting Ready for REACH
Finally, the TPD will also require e-liquid companies to use REACH-registered chemicals. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is a program initiated by the European Chemicals Agency to ensure the safety of major ingredients used in consumer products.
Going beyond U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and European Pharmacopoeia (EP) standards, REACH will apply to nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), and vegetable glycerin (VG). As of this writing, only two nicotine manufacturers meet REACH standards – CNT and Nicobrand, Europe’s oldest producer of nicotine.
While not enforced until 2018, the TPD will require that these chemicals meet REACH standards. So every manufacturer not using REACH-approved nicotine, PG and VG will eventually have to reformulate their flavors and then resubmit files to the TPD.
The original “Vaping VampTM,” Maria Verven is a 35- year P.R. veteran and owner of Verve P.R, a marketing firm focused on the vape industry.
For a variety of reasons, vaping has a particularly negative image with the non-vaping public. Let’s examine the five main reasons why, and what we, as a community, can do to rehabilitate that image.
Negative Media Coverage
It isn’t surprising that the general public has such a negative perception of vaping, given the frequent media coverage devoted to only the most unfavorable news and shoddy journalism. Every day there are negative articles devoted to vaping with sensational or misleading titles. I saw this article today, titled “E-cigarette Use Increasing Among Teens”. Why title it that way? Wouldn’t something like “Cigarette Use Plummets Among Teens” have been more accurate, since that is the direct effect of teens using e-cigarettes? Another example from this week’s news is an article entitled “Parents Get the Low Down on Substance Abuse,” announcing an upcoming presentation titled “Not My Kid: What’s Really Happening with Marijuana, Binge Drinking and E-Cigarettes in Wilton.” Equating the use of e-cigarettes with binge drinking and marijuana, and classifying e-cigarette users as substance abusers is ridiculous. For crying out loud, cigarettes are NOT part of the topic, but e-cigarettes are? I call bullshit.
The media coverage of vaping is so toxic it was even noted in an article written by Sally Satel, M.D., a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute — who is completely independent from the e-cigarette industry. Her article, “What’s Driving the War on E-Cigarettes?,” concludes that the fault lies with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). She argues the CDC should be embracing vaping but instead are taking the so-called “precautionist” approach; giving disproportionate weight to speculative evidence and minimizing the potential benefits. The CDC’s position on vaping directly affects and encourages the rampant negative media attention. As Dr. Satel noted in her article, this position harms smokers who have been unable to quit by other means, it is bad for the integrity of the field of public health, and will ultimately harm the CDC’s credibility as it is a major violation of the public trust.
Association With Traditional Cigarettes
This reason irritates me, because it is the ultimate illustration of the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” That is exactly what the public does when it comes to vaping: it looks like smoking, so they react accordingly. When someone is vaping, there are clouds of vapor expelled that resemble smoke. The nonsmoking public is so conditioned to hate cigarette smoking that the knee-jerk reaction is to hate vaping as well — often just as much as they hate smoking. When combined with the public’s lack of factual knowledge of vaping (thanks again, mainstream media,) the result is basically a presumption against vaping as a viable alternative to smoking. I like to call this the “mom factor” – your mom just doesn’t want
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to see anything that resembles a cloud of smoke, no matter what you kids are calling it these days!
The public sees vaping as far too similar to smoking, and media coverage is too often skewed to the most horrible things that ever happen in the vaping world. Exploding batteries are an ever-popular topic, because the idea of your face or genitals being blown off by a vape battery is disturbing. While extremely problematic, this issue is far more rare than the public would believe, is most often the result of improper use, and is no more prevalent than it is in other types of technology that use lithium-ion batteries — such as cell phones.
Outside of the immediate risk of a mod catching fire or being injured by explosion, there is no end to the news coverage of popcorn lung, diacetyl, anti-freeze, and random chemicals found in batches of e-juice. Another popular story angle is the one of children being poisoned from drinking liquid nicotine. There are concerns related to expelled vapor, even though studies have shown it is no more harmful than air. Then come the concerns related to whether there is formaldehyde in liquids. There is no end to the amount of health concerns people seem to have about e-cigarettes.
Common Industry Marketing Tactics can alienate average or new vapers
Sorry vape family, but some of the marketing tactics used in our arena are distasteful. If you have ever been to a vape convention, it is basically where Hooters waitresses go to die. Some strong connections have been made between vaping and a solely masculine subculture that is all about naked ladies and blowing sick clouds. This takes vaping firmly outside of what the mainstream is interested in. The second group the public associates with vaping are trendy “hipsters” — an association firmly rooted in images of people like Paris Hilton and Kylie Jenner vaping. One often hears the word “douchey” tossed around in description of the type of people who vape (don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just delivering the news). Outsiders who look at a vaping magazine or wander into a vape shop do not feel that they are part of the world that is being advertised; this is especially true for older females who may want to give vaping a try and are confronted with e-liquids with names like Monkey Jizz or Zombie Puss.
Lack of Support From Any Major Group in the Non- Vaping World
As already mentioned, the CDC is firmly against vaping as a means of quitting smoking. So is the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, and the majority of the public health field. Add the majority of Congress and legislators across the United States to the groups not on our side and we are left with a pretty sad little group of supporters, which basically consists of people who vape, Leonardo DiCaprio, those in the vaping business, Grover Norquist, and Representative Duncan Hunter from California. And don’t forget Kylie Jenner.
How Can We Rehabilitate the Public Vaping Image?
Lest you thought I was only here to point out how bad things are for vapers in the current climate, I do have a few ideas on how to fix our image. I have one quick idea for each of the five areas discussed above, which, if implemented, would go a long way towards giving our industry the public perception makeover it desperately needs.
First, respond to negative media coverage with positive media coverage. Vapers are always active in the comments section of anti-vaping articles, and should continue to be so, but in a respectful and informed way so that anyone reading it might actually learn something. The more of us that write positive articles about vaping, high-
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lighting positive research and the correlation between the rise in the use of e-cigarettes to the historical plummet in the use of traditional cigarettes, while al- ways emphasizing the scientific study which illustrates that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking, the more the public is presented with alternate viewpoints. The public cannot understand the whole truth about vaping and have an informed opinion unless we do everything possible to share what we know.
Second, stop blowing your huge vape clouds everywhere. As much as I love vaping and want to protect my right to vape, I want to protect the rights of the rest of the world to quit smoking through vaping as well. To do this, it is helpful to try not to be an asshole. And people just don’t want to see you blowing huge clouds out of your 200 watt mech mod in the middle of a restaurant while they are eating lunch. Or on an airplane. Or in the mall, at movie theaters, in line at Target, or anywhere else they are indoors. It is very easy to adjust your vaping habits to not annoy the whole world. Discretion is a virtue; try it out.
Third, the vaping community must continue to put forth a harm reduction philosophy to compete against the “precautionist” model which currently governs. Our stance must be firm that vaping should be embraced as the premier means of smoking cessation, and anyone concerned about possible health ramifications should be devoted to minimizing those harms, instead of exaggerating them. Since we all know vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking, all health concerns must be reviewed in that context. What do I mean by that? If you are addressing people worried about the diacetyl in e-cigarettes and its potential to cause “popcorn lung”, after making sure the person or group you are engaging is aware there is 750% more diacetyl in a cigarette than in an e-cigarette according to a Harvard study, change the focus to the vast number of diacetyl-free liquids available. You don’t fix a sprained ankle by cutting off the head of the injured patient; we should respond to the actual nature of the “threat,” and encourage others to do the same.
Fourth, we need to change our marketing tactics. The data shows that women are more likely to try e-cigarettes than men are in an attempt to quit smoking. If anything, get Channing Tatum and his group from Magic Mike on some advertisements! I’m kidding, and actually we must entirely reframe the lens through which e-cigarettes are viewed publicly. Of course they are used recreationally, but they are the most successful smoking cessation device known to mankind; THAT is how they should be advertised and marketed. No deaths have been attributed to vaping, something that cannot be said of other FDA approved forms of nicotine replacement therapy, like Chantix. These are the truths we need to hammer home, and change the view of vaping from nothing more than a recreational drug to a serious and safe means of smoking cessation.
Finally, we must find support outside the vaping community. As compelling as Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus may be, we need more people like them. We need disinterested (non-vaping) members of the public health community, the government, and the media to help change the image of vaping, and give it the legitimacy it deserves. We need smart, disinterested people like Dr. Satel to tell it like it is, and present the entire truth about vaping, and its usefulness in the fight against smoking. We need members of the general public to embrace vaping the same way they embrace lozenges, patches and pills as useful tools that help people quit smoking. Until then, Keep Calm and Vape On.
Most state legislatures have been in session for over a month now. In that short period of time, CASAA has identified multiple legislative threats to vaping and issued over 30 calls to action. Typically, the response rate to our calls to action is noticeably higher than some organizations see with other issues. Certainly this speaks to the passion that consumers have for vapor products and the level to which we are willing to be engaged. However, despite all of the opportunities that consumers have to be involved, some people are still hungry for more ways to participate.
CASAA has attended several events already in 2016, and at each one, we were approached by people that want to know what more they can do; they simply aren’t satisfied with firing off an email or making a phone call to a lawmaker. The good news is there are absolutely more ways to get involved.
First, Register To Vote! There are an estimated ten million vapor consumers in the United States (at the time of this writing, CASAA is close to counting 134,000 of them as members). Although most of the vapor consumers in the US are people that purchase or have purchased the cig-a-like or basic “ego” style devices from a C-store or gas station, there are still millions of consumers that purchase and use advanced devices from small specialty shops. Just imagine the voting power we would have if just that group of advanced users were registered to vote and actually voted. Yes, we are talking about determining the outcome of a federal election. Moreover, when you communicate with lawmakers, it is vitally important that you mention that you are a voter in their district. While it’s true that good ideas and passionate policy discussion come from nonvoters to a lawmaker, the prospects of losing or gaining a vote in the next election carries more weight.
Second, when you make a call or send written communications to lawmakers, it is a great idea to take that opportunity to request an in-person meeting. It may take a while to set up the meeting and you may only end up speaking with a staff member, but any inperson meeting with a lawmaker or their staff sends a powerful message that you are serious about this issue. Once you’ve scheduled your meeting, take a moment to reach out to any of the organizations that have been doing this for a while. Someone there will be more than happy to share their experience and help prepare you for your meeting.
Third, the aforementioned 10 million vapor consumers in the US need to know how to get involved. Maybe more importantly, they need to know that they should get involved. There are still hundreds of vapor retailers that don’t know about the regulatory threats to their businesses. Unfortunately, their customers are likely in the dark as well. As consumers, you have the power to influence retailers with your spending habits. Shop in stores that promote awareness and advocacy. If you are limited to just one or a few shops and they seem unaware of the issues, take a moment to recommend some materials they can post in their store. CASAA has things that can be downloaded and printed out for free (bit.ly/casaamaterials). You can also find flyers that are tailored to specific states or issues here: bit.ly/casaaflyers.
Finally, sharing calls to action and other bits of information is vitally important to getting the word out and are often overlooked as ways to get more involved. Some may naturally assume that information coming from a large organization is seen by many more people\ than one person can hope to reach. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I’ll refer back to the 9.8 million vapor consumers in the US that are seemingly unaware of the threats to their access to vapor products. The reality is that you have social and business networks that advocacy organizations are unable to reach on their own. Manufacturers and online retailers, especially, have large email lists that consist of vendors and consumers alike. While CASAA can send out one alert here and there to specific audiences, our message tends to get buried in all of the other exciting stuff happening in the vapor universe. It is vital that everyone who interacts with these products sees multiple reminders to take action or to generally be aware of the issues.
It may seem like “doing more” requires some kind of heroic effort. However, it’s the little things that add up and can have a significant impact. Rather than strive for grand gestures intended to jump start a revolution, consistent and simple actions are what sustain a movement.
Until now, many vapers have been happily vaping away, without much concern over the contents of their E-Liquids. After all, E-Liquid is made from simple, safe, household ingredients — it’s gotta be better than the 7,000+ chemicals in cigarettes, right? As long as the juice is made in a clean fashion — there isn’t much to worry about.
But then diacetyl reared its ugly head. Although knowledge of the chemical is not new in vaping circles, after all, informed vapers know that electronic cigarette researcher Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos warned us about the chemical back in 2014, with a study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. The study recommended then that diacetyl and acetyl propionyl (AP) be removed from E-Liquids, as they are an avoidable risk. The diacetyl story broke to the public in December 2015 when a study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that revealed the chemical’s presence was in up to 75 percent of vapor liquids.
But, why the concern? What potential harm can diacetyl cause? Diacetyl, when inhaled, can cause bronchiolitis obliterans, popularly known as popcorn lung. Inhalations of high concentrations of diacetyl can cause obstructive lung disease, which can be very severe. With popcorn lung, the bronchioles of the lung become scarred and constricted, blocking the movement of air.
This was bad news for vapers who were turning to e-cigarettes as a way to reduce harm from cigarette smoking. If vapor liquids contained ingredients that would damage the lungs as well, then why not just smoke?
A Daily Caller article then responded, pointing out important facts that had not been discussed by the Harvard report, and charging the study with selectively revealing information about diacetyl content in other substances — namely, tobacco cigarettes. Dr. Farsalinos has argued that cigarette tobacco also contains high levels of diacetyl — even higher than those found in most vapor liquids. He presented data showing tobacco to have much higher levels of diacetyl — on average 110 times higher compared to the E-Liquid samples he tested. Additionally, he observed that the threshold for the diacetyl content in the Harvard study was very low — inhaling levels of diacetyl this low were unlikely to contribute to popcorn lung. Cigarettes have not been linked to the disease, and if cigarettes contain higher levels of diacetyl than e-cigs, than how can we reasonably conclude that E-Liquids cause the disease?
Even so, the vape industry had to respond. If harm reduction is truly the game here, when faced with this news, manufacturers had to act. E-Liquid producers then turned to their flavoring suppliers with questions. Some suppliers claim directly on their website that diacetyl is not added to any of their flavorings. Others have gone even farther to remove other questionable chemicals AP and acetoin from their formulations.
How can E-Liquid companies handle the diacetyl question? Some companies try their best to have no trace of diacetyl or other known harmful chemicals in the juices. Their juices are tested by third-party laboratories and the test results are often proudly posted on the company website. Other companies
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have chosen to be transparent — acknowledging that the liquids may have some concentrations of diacetyl, AP, or acetoin — and that there is some risk taken by the consumer. Those warnings acknowledge the link between diacetyl and lung disease, while also noting that no adequate testing has been done on diacetyl in electronic cigarettes. After all, it has been pointed out that the workers who developed popcorn lung were breathing in high concentrations of pure flavorings at extremely high temps, and also that the levels of diacetyl in electronic cigarettes were less than diacetyl levels in tobacco cigarettes. Other companies have not said much either way — and still others have been accused of misleading their customers.
What is the best policy for E-Liquid manufacturers? As Dr. Farsalinos has argued, transparency by the juice companies and removal of the chemicals are the only two viable ways to move forward. When companies hedge or refuse to answer tough questions about their E-Liquids, they seem uninformed at best and deceptive at worst. And of course, falsifying test results or making false claims is a completely unacceptable practice.
How do vapers move on from diacetyl? Vapers should ask for test results as well as informing themselves of the risks associated with the product. But since vapers are moving away from the clearly toxic habit of smoking to a clearly less harmful habit of vaping — which no one has claimed to be totally safe, the risks associated with diacetyl seem minimal. Especially since an informed vaper can easily avoid it by choosing diacetyl free liquids. In the future, more extensive testing of E-Liquids and flavorings will be the norm. As electronic cigarettes continue to be studied, we hope that they will be studied in a way that is fair and balanced, not in a way that aims to stifle the technology.
By and large, vapers are health conscious individuals. Many of them chose vaping in the first place as a way to move towards a healthy lifestyle. As research identifies the E-Liquid flavors that have the least health risks, and companies adapt to the changes, vaping will continue to be a good choice from smokers looking to quit combustible tobacco.
From its humble beginnings in 2009 to today, ProVape and its ProVari line of products have come a long way, baby. Manufactured in the U.S. and sold in over 68 countries, ProVari has grown into a top-rated personal vaporizer thanks to its dependability, durability, safety and performance – not to mention thousands of raving fans.
“ProVari has a huge fan base,” said Phil Busardo, a popular reviewer. “If you were to post something negative, fans sense something negative and will come and vigorously defend it.”
In other words, ProVari is blowing away the competition.
David Flagg, ProVape CEO and a full-time vaper who hasn’t had a cigarette since he switched to vaping in 2009, said he and his business partner Phillip Schuessler weren’t happy with most Chinese devices due to their poor performance, lack of quality control and safety.
“When we first got into the market, we saw a lot of poorly designed products,” Flagg said. “So we set out to improve on those designs. We didn’t just want to make a premium device; we also wanted to keep manufacturing here in the U.S. to support American workers.”
Flagg said everything – from engineering designs to circuit boards to the metal work on all ProVari products – is made in Monroe, Wash., a small town about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Since the release of the ProVari 1 in 2010, ProV ape has released several different models, including the ProVari 2, 2.5 and 3, the ProVari Classic and the ergonomically designed ProVari Radius, launched last October.
Starting with only four staffers in a 6,000 square foot facility, ProVape has grown to over 40 employees working out of a 24,000 square foot facility. “It’s nice having all the extra space,” Flagg said. “Having departments instead of everyone crammed into a small area really helps us be more organized.”
From Word of Mouth to Top Google Ranking
In the early days, there was very little marketing to speak of; word of mouth from customers was their only advertising. Even so, thanks to great reviews, sales were going well.
In 2013, they hired Eventige, a full-service marketing agency, to update the website. “Our focus had to be on building and testing products and shipping orders,” Flagg said. “We looked around at several agencies, but connected with the Eventige team and their vision.”
Eventige lists dozens of clients, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Ford Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott, Microsoft, Skype, Uber and The Wall Street Journal. Their client list also includes Logic and Ecig Caddy. Alexei Alankin, CEO and founder, is a vaper and passionate about the industry. Eventige was a key sponsor at SFATA’s annual meeting last year.
Alankin and the Eventige team came up with several suggestions and marketing ideas, eventually honing their strategy and focusing on new product launches. They started by creating a unique look and feel for every ProVape product page on the website. As the relationship with ProVape grew, so did their engagement until eventually Eventige assumed responsibility for all of ProVape’s social media, website and marketing.
Eventige created and implemented a global brand strategy that aligned all brand marketing activities into a cohesive and milestone driven roadmap. The goal was to increase brand awareness and global sales to smokers as well as current vapers.
“We first focused on developing an online marketing strategy,
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and then created the materials needed to reach the mass market,” Alankin said. “Our experience in e-commerce and online positioning helped us navigate this difficult terrain and find unique ways to propel the ProVape message forward.”
Alankin said they boosted online sales by focusing on inbound lead strategies that elevated ProVape’s organic ranking in Google searches. After implementing both on- and off-page proven SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, they then improved the website load speeds and user interface design and optimized the website conversion rate, turning more visitors into buyers and eventually fans.
Thanks to these efforts, ProVape increased its search traffic by a whopping 1,600 percent. ProVape.com continues to hold the number one position on Google and other search engines for several important keyword searches used by people seeking high quality vaping devices. This is a critical strategy, since any business selling vape products cannot use Google AdWords or paid acquisition strategies to generate website traffic.
Quadrupling the Fan Base
Eventige also developed loyalty programs, online contests and social media aggregate platforms to strengthen public opinion, increase sharing and optimize opportunities for the ProVari brand to build a following in the vape community.
On the #VapeProVari fan board, they delivered a daily influx of user-generated content that continues to drive engagement and attraction. This helped quadruple the number of social media fans in a very short period of time. For example, in one campaign, they sent ‘Zombies’ roaming the virtual streets via digital media to promote the Zombie version of the ProVari. This unique design of the classic unit features a coating that looks like blood spatter, and the design was a hit with fans all around the world.
When ProVape got ready to roll out its new ProVari 3, Eventige created custom packaging that emulated the brand’s sleek, elegant, modern look. They also created a campaign to promote the lighter, titanium version of the P3, which weighs 2.1 oz. vs. the 3.8 oz. stainless steel version. Advertisements promoting the Titanium P3’s unique selling features show the ProVari 3 balancing on a fulcrum with a feather.
Retail distribution hit over 900 dealers worldwide with USB keys and loyalty cards included in their point of display promotional packages. Articles have also appeared in major print media such as Reuters, Forbes, and the Daily Caller as well as vape publications VAPE News and Vapor Voice.
Today, ProVape continues to experience aggressive growth rates; even celebrities like Katherine Heigl are using a ProVari device. The partnership between ProVape and Eventige is also as strong as ever.
“Four years ago when I started vaping, I was looking for that perfect product,” Alankin said. “Ever since I met David (Flagg), the ProVari was it for me. Over the years, I upgraded whenever a new model came out. I’ve also helped many friends and family make the switch.”
Meanwhile, Alankin is always experimenting with ways to drive new customers to the ProVari brand. “It’s very much a rotating platter when it comes to what to try next,” he said. “We’re always trying to see what gets the most attention.”
The original “Vaping VampTM,” Maria Verven is a 35-year P.R. veteran and owner of Verve P.R, a marketing firm focused on the vape industry.