In addition to a few predictions of the year to come, I’d like to give a quick rundown of some of the more important items to come out of 2012 for the electronic cigarette industry and community. If we miss something you feel shouldn’t be forgotten about 2012, please let us know in the comments below.
Dragonite Pursues International Patent Control.
The company behind the originator of the modern electronic cigarette continued pushing for a piece of the pie. Dragonite controls the international patent for the devices and appears to makes most of its money from litigious action against e-cig companies at this point. This effort has been going on since around 2008 but made a lot of headway this year — notably in a settlement including LOEC (which does business as Blu Cigs). This seemed to occur largely because companies were trying to get set on track as the industry quickly grows to maturity and may soon leave dawdlers behind. Any company looking to field buy-out offers certainly needed to do some legal house cleaning prior to sale as well.
Lorillard Buys Blu Cigs.
Near the end of April the first serious acquisition in the e-cig world occurred and sounded the starter pistol to very real growth and consolidation within the industry. Lorillard (the tobacco company behind the Newport and Kent brands) purchased electronic cigarette company Blu Cigs. Blu possesses probably the clearest and most recognizable brand in the electronic cigarette world — a blue light at the end of a slick black transitional model. That clarity certainly led them to be among the most desirable brands in the industry. For some, this was a serious concern as this became the first moment at which the e-cig world included a member of Big Tobacco. Not much like this has happened since, but the rumor mill is claiming 2013 will likely lead off with a couple purchases.
Dr. Polosa’s Research Continues to Show Promise.
Dr. Riccardo Polosa ran a small pilot study to determine the efficacy of electronic cigarettes as cessation devices. The results were downright amazing. Utilizing a pool of individuals opposed to kicking their smoking habit, Polosa demonstrated that more than half reduced their smoking rates by 50% or more. Another quarter quit smoking entirely as a result of being given electronic cigarettes. All this occurred inside 6 months. That study was published near the end of 2011. Polosa followed up with a more dynamic and extensive global study which has taken the majority of 2012 to complete. At an event in May, Polosa presented results thus far and they indicated that is pilot study was not far off — if anything, the results of the pilot were far more modest than the reality.
Electronic Cigarette Ads Appear on TV.
The first serious market push for the electronic cigarette industry in the US included ads for them on national television. This was a surprise to many since advertising traditional cigarettes on TV hasn’t been allowed since 1971. But e-cigs fall into a different category. Still, that won’t stop an onslaught of slanted reporting, anti-smoking rhetoric, and more. For many, the fact that e-cigs look like cigarettes is damning enough to treat them the same. Though the fight started in 2012, it’ll be 2013 that decides the winner in this one.
The FDA and Others Begin Opening Up to Modified Risk Products.
Electronic cigarette companies are currently avoiding the topic of risk reduction and smoking cessation for fear of legal action. Many individuals however, are raising their voices in support of programs that reduce or replace the risk associated with smoking. Researchers are finding that abstinence-only programming just doesn’t work for a majority of smokers. Smokers need ways to step away from smoking at the pace most in line with what works for them. Even if a smoker can never truly stop using nicotine, offering a way to decrease the damage done will always be preferable to a well I guess you’re just gonna die approach. A public hearing held by the FDA in December began breaking down the belief that quit or die is no longer the programming of choice for many members of the public, researchers, politicians, and policy-makers. The advent of electronic cigarettes has proven to many individuals that believed they could never quit that they only lacked the appropriate tools to do so.
Finally, The World Didn’t End. Us: 1 Mayans: 0