Saturday, 7 March 2020

US Vapology: Requiem for an Industry?

American vapers and vaping businesses will shortly enter a period of chaos and existentially threatening regulation. First will be a ban on almost all flavours – everything except tobacco flavour and possibly menthol and mint. That is likely to shut down nearly every vape shop and e-liquid company that isn’t part of a tobacco company. Then by 12 May next year, any surviving vaping companies and will have to comply with the hugely burdensome, opaque and unpredictable pre-market tobacco application process. Going into 2020, the industry will be in crisis and vapers and smokers will be in danger of losing one of the most important innovations of the century.

This post focuses on the first of these – the ban on flavours. Here are twenty things you should know about the US vaping flavour ban.

  • 1. What is happening about flavoured vaping products in the United States?
  • 2. Why is this happening now?
  • 3. The big question: does the FDA have any idea what it is doing?
  • 4. Kiddie-flavours are now defined as all flavours except tobacco flavour – but it wasn’t always that way
  • 5. Flavours are an important part of the appeal to adults
  • 6. Flavours as a whole are attractive to adolescents (but this is trivially obvious)
  • 7. Activists have moved from targeted youth-orientated measures to indiscriminate prohibition
  • 8. But don’t kids like (non-tobacco) flavours more than adults?
  • 9. Research suggests broader causes for youth vaping uptake than flavours
  • 10. Other research focuses on the initial choice of flavour but this offers a poor explanation for youth vaping
  • 11. Why not just ask adolescents why they vape?
  • 12. Do flavour descriptors attract teenage non-users? Hardly at all.
  • 13. Does teenage vaping justify banning (almost all) vaping products? What is the precedent?
  • 14. Could measures against vaping flavours make things worse for adolescents (as well as adults)?
  • 15. FDA does not care if vaping works as an alternative to smoking for adolescents – and this is deeply unethical
  • 16. Is there an elitist bias at work here?
  • 17. Does adult vaping have benefits for kids?
  • 18. What are the likely marketplace consequences of a flavour ban?
  • 19. What if we actually wanted to do the right thing for adolescents?
  • 20. Could the anti-vaping moral panic actually be a cause of youth vaping?

    Answers here, from the excellent Clive Bates.

    Estimated size of the US vape industry going up in smoke:

    $24.46 billion in economic activity, supported 166,007 jobs (direct, indirect and induced) and consisted of 380 liquid manufacturers, 2,012 vape shop manufacturers and 11,469 specialist retail outlets

    1. Hmmm... FDA's nannystating anti-tobacconists believe they've dealt a blow to Big Tobacco because they still, wrongly, conflate Vaping with Big Tobacco.

      In reality only a small (but significant) part of the ecigs industry is in the hands of BT (see Juuuls e.g.)

      It's a horrible case of throwing the baby away with the bathwater!