British American Tobacco’s Voke Nicotine Inhaler Approved as Medicinal Product

September 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

12fbeecBritish American Tobacco (BAT) just received approval to sell and market its Voke Nicotine Inhaler as a medicinal product in the UK. The Voke is a cigarette-shaped inhaler that sprays a nicotine mist into a user’s mouth rather than using heat and electronics to produce vapor the way electronic cigarettes do. With a license as a medicinal product, the Voke can be sold explicitly as an approved medical product and can be prescribed by doctors.

Analysts expect the Voke to hit the market in the first half of next year. You can read more about it here.

Nicotine inhalers have had very little success in the past. They appear to be capable of offering a more precise dose of nicotine than electronic cigarettes — though this is a very debatable argument. However, the lack of anything remotely smoke-like entering or exiting the mouth and lungs means they don’t really simulate the experience of smoking the way e-cigs do. And while this inhaler is shaped like a cigarette, there is more to quitting than just handing something shaped like a cigarette to a would-be quitter.

Voke2_zps6cbfdfcdOne wonders how long BAT has been seeking medicinal product licensing for the Voke. At a glance, early mentions of the product that I can find go back to as early as July 2012. This could easily mean that BAT has been working on this for close the 3 years or more. This also means the Voke could already be 3 years out of date.

Licensing as a medicinal product likely means a couple things. One, it’s likely to be expensive — not just because the process to become approved is expensive, but also because they can claim hey, you don’t know anything about the other stuff, whereas we’re approved! Second, it’s likely to provide such a sterilized experience and be so branded as a Therapy that it will turn off many smokers who are tired of being berated with anti-tobacco efforts that treat them like helpless addicts.

But really, the biggest issue I have with this is the double-edged benefits BAT will get out of addicting people to smoking and then selling a product that helps them quit. This is like a candy company offering dentistry or an oil drilling outfit getting paid to clean up its own oil spill.

Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute Claims 75% of Barcelona’s E-Cig Users Continue to Smoke

September 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

05-IDIBELLThe Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) in Spain recently announced the results of a study of Barcelonan electronic cigarette users. That study found that about 6.5% (83,000) of Barcelona’s citizens have tried electronic cigarettes. And while this detail tells a real story, the organization focused first on a different tidbit: that 75% of e-cig users in Barcelona remain smokers.

You can read the initial announcement about the study here (though it may need some translating for you).

This is yet another study in which researchers seem pretty focused on making electronic cigarettes look bad. The lead researcher Jose M. Martinez-Sanchez argues that evidence of dual use (using both e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes) and a low satisfaction rate for e-cigs compromises any effectiveness they might have in helping users quit. In fact, of those surveyed, only 20% said they were fully or fairly satisfied with e-cigs.

downloadAll these statistics sound pretty rough for the e-cig industry in Spain. However, it does appear that these statistics are based on individuals that tried e-cigs ever or at all — not just those that are active and on-going users.

So if you flip these statistics around, they actually look pretty good. This would mean that 25% of Barcelonan e-cig users have discontinued smoking and that 20% of all trial results in a reasonable level of satisfaction with the devices.

We’re not familiar with the e-cig market in Spain. It is possible that it is behind that of some other countries and that the products users are getting a hold of aren’t the same level of that available in other places. Still, it appears the market is growing and anti-tobacco there is getting concerned.

Sheridan, Wyoming Police Have Begun Citing Teens For E-Cig Possession

September 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

HMSThere’s not many details because it involves a minor, but it appears police in Sheridan, Wyoming are enforcing a new city bill which makes possession of electronic cigarettes by minors illegal. This has led to the citation of one teen simply for having an electronic cigarette in his or her possession.

You can read about the incident here.

There are a number of reasons that e-cig possession by teens has been outlawed in various cities and towns. For some, it is a effort to fight what they consider drug paraphernalia. For others, it is simply a fight against a new method of smoking which they believe to be just as dangerous as the real thing.

Young woman smoking e-cigaretteUnfortunately, town and city politics are rarely influenced by science and reason when it comes to anything remotely emotional in nature — as often are smoking, our kids, and drug use. It certainly doesn’t help that parent groups, public health groups, and anti-smoking watchdogs are out en masse to get these kinds of bans pushed though.

And while kids generally shouldn’t be buying e-cigs, it seems unlikely a teen would even be cited for possession of the far more deadly tobacco cigarettes. Point of fact, if a teen is using e-cigs who would normally be smoking instead, he or she is doing themself a favor (more on that here).

Cops citing teens for possession of e-cigs might just be ensuring that those same teens smoke instead.

 

R.J. Reynolds Sends 119-Page Submission to FDA Advising Ban on All “Open” Vapor Products

September 8, 2014 by · 7 Comments 

0CB48E6C-8944-4CDB-AFE4-47E5C38CA2CA_w640_r1_sReynolds American just fired quite a shot against all things mod and vapor. In a 119-page submission to the Food and Drug Administration, the company advises that all open vapor products be banned. This would include all mods, tanks, refillable cartridges, e-liquid, and basically anything that isn’t a closed disposable unit.

The submission argues extensively that open vapor products — those which allow the user to control and modify their experience — should be banned in all forms. They even go so far as to argue that stagnating sales of cigalikes prove open models are hurting the industry. The submission also argues that, among other things, open systems allow for use of illegal drugs, pose high risk for user error, and higher risk to kids and teens that might get their hands on them.

Reynolds-AmericanThe financial upside for this sort of ban is significant for Reynolds. Open systems are far more effective at replacing traditional cigarettes for smokers. As well, they are demolishing cigalikes. The natural progression for most e-cig users is to eventually settle on more advanced products than disposables and semi-disposables. This means that small units — those which Reynold’s sells — are paving the way for sales of the more advanced ones.

Reynolds doesn’t want to get into the open vapor products market. A ban on them would only reinforce the standing of traditional cigarettes. And while Reynolds has produced a line of electronic cigarettes, it is mostly a placeholder in the industry. If nothing else, it further reinforces the idea that e-cigs should be treated just like tobacco cigarettes. That would further quarter off the industry for only the largest tobacco companies which can afford to buy their way into the market.

This certainly isn’t the first time a tobacco player has pushed against the more advanced units on the market. But this was a significant “official” push — beyond the public statements and press releases.

Read more about the submission here.

Researchers Argue WHO is Misinterpreting and Misrepresenting E-Cig Data

September 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ΠΟΥ ΠΑΓΚΟΣΜΙΟΣ ΟΡΓΑΝΙΣΜΟΣ ΥΓΕΙΑΣ ΛΟΓΟΤΥΠΟThe World Health Organization recently put out a letter arguing for stiff regulations against electronic cigarettes around the world. The letter voiced concern about the products and advised that they be treated as tobacco products. According to the tobacco researchers and experts, though, the WHO-commissioned review contains errors, misinterpretations and misrepresentations.

Experts argued that policymakers are being mislead to believe that electronic cigarettes pose no benefits and that they are worse than they actually are. Perhaps the most significant oversight is how little the review compares the effects of conventional tobacco cigarettes to that of electronic cigarettes. This is a major component in the argument for support of the products. If e-cigs can reduce the harm of smoking — as it appears they do — then they should be helped rather than hindered.

You can read about the expert input here.

260359054The motivations for the WHO to get things wrong in this case is pretty clear. While the WHO appears mostly balanced in the face of controversy, it — like any other public health group — thrives on the existence of public health villains. And there is none bigger than tobacco. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The WHO is acting just like every other group that can’t see e-cigs as anything other than another type of smoking.

And that’s the problem these experts are shining light on. While there is evidence e-cigs can cause a barely measurable amount of harm, the benefits of a replacement product for traditional cigarettes that works are far to great to pass up.

For this reason, these experts find it appalling that the WHO would recommend making it harder to bring e-cigs to market while tobacco cigarettes remain so widely available.

“There are currently two products competing for smokers’ custom,” one said. “One – the conventional cigarette – endangers users and bystanders and recruits new customers from among non-smoking children who try it. The other – the e-cigarette – is orders of magnitude safer, poses no risk to bystanders, and generates negligible rates of regular use among non-smoking children who try it.”

Study Supports Nicotine As Gateway to Hardcore Drugs, E-Cigs Get The Heat

September 4, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

estate_special_gateA new study from the New England Journal of Medicine has found supporting evidence that nicotine may be a gateway to harder drugs. Though evidence for the study dates back to the 70′s — a good 40 years before electronic cigarettes would be a regular thing — coverage of the study and commentary by authors focused attention on e-cigs as a potential gateway to hardcore drugs.

Among other bits of data, the study reviewed sources which found use of nicotine appeared to lower a user’s (in some cases, a mouse or rat’s) resistance to the addictive effects of cocaine. So this suggests that nicotine users are more likely to become addicted to hardcore drugs when they use them. It also finds that individuals who smoke are also more likely to use hardcore drugs.

But this doesn’t prove that individuals who use nicotine use drugs because they use nicotine — only that individuals who use one are likely to be using the other. The idea of a gateway effect has been greatly debated for years. Certainly evidence can’t already support that e-cigs are a gateway. Evidence based entirely on tobacco use just isn’t the same. Some preliminary research even suggests that nicotine delivered without smoke has different and less addictive effects on the human body.

In short, this study does nothing to prove e-cigs are a gateway. They hardly even show a real gateway effect for nicotine itself.

 

A Little Info On Chromium — A Substance Recently Found In Some E-Cig Vapor

September 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

8209626367_30a29e2bae_zA recent study out of the National Institute of Cancer Research in Milan, Italy found the presence of chromium in some electronic cigarette vapor samples that they tested. Given that chromium isn’t normally found in traditional cigarette smoke, this news has already garnered some attention from groups that were already seeking ways to demonize e-cigs.

And let’s not be unclear. Chromium is potentially bad stuff. It’s been a known carcinogen since research in 1890 showed workers at a chromate dye company had an increased chance of developing cancer. Beyond that, chromium is moderately toxic.

But while the worst versions of chromium have been known to be as toxic as acetone or sulfuric acid, more common versions are far less troublesome. Point of fact, chromium is used in a number of dietary supplements — which thus far appears to pose no real risk. Chromium also occurs in small amounts in many water sources.

chromium1The chromium, like nickel and some other metal particulates which often found in electronic cigarette vapor, is likely to come from the electronics in the device. Pieces of the heating element in particular are likely to get drawn into the vaper when the device is used.

So yes, chromium in electronic cigarette vapor is potentially something to worry about.

But there is an upside to all this. The same study (like others before) still found less toxins overall in e-cig vapor than in tobacco smoke. And there remains a number of far nastier things in tobacco smoking (including iodine and formaldehyde) which occur far less or not at all in electronic cigarette vapor.

So while many groups may use this news as yet another opportunity to claim e-cigs might be as dangerous as traditional cigarettes that still appears entirely unfounded. In short, this isn’t going to be the missing link that raises e-cig vapor to the level of tobacco smoke in harmfulness. Rather, it is just another piece of the puzzle that further shows that e-cigs are way better, but not entirely safe.

Hollywood may use E-Cigs to Portray Characters as “Too Slick To Be Trusted”

September 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Michael-Shannon-demolitionvenom-32321851-640-360In an article from the UK news outlet Daily Mail, actor Michael Shannon spoke about his use of an electronic cigarette in an upcoming film 99 Homes. In it, Shannon plays a slick, untrustworthy real estate broker who happens to use electronic cigarettes. But you probably know him better as General Zod from the latest incineration (I meant that) of the Superman franchise.

In the article, Shannon calls the e-cig a crucial part of his character. The article extrapolates this one minor comment to guess that all of Hollywood may turn to e-cigs as a shorthand reference for too slick and sexy to be trustworthy. Let’s ignore the fact that this is one actor speaking casually (saying “‘Who knows? Probably.“) for the actions of one director (Ramin Bahrani) who appears to be mostly a film festival act at the moment with only 6 movies under his belt.

You can read the article right here.

scifiecigBut it is possible that e-cigs will catch on in Hollywood. Just like with smoking bans, e-cigs could provide a way to sidestep certain rules about what can and can’t or should and shouldn’t be shown in movies. E-cigs do give actors something to do with their hands — which often makes scenes a little more realistic. Establishing habits and mannerisms for a character is easier when that character has a pre-packaged activity to do in most scenes. This used to be exactly what smoking did for characters.

However, Hollywood had a very rough past where smoking is concerned. It got beat up pretty bad for its extensive product placement of cigarettes and on-going promotion of their coolness factor in the characters that use them. Though some directors might use them as props here and there, it seems likely that wholesale adaptation of the products may never really happen and the ratings board may still slap a “tobacco use” rating on the movie that shows them.

The idea that e-cigs might portray individuals as “too slick to be trusted” isn’t going to prevent the products from looking cool. So if someone is hoping that argument will make it easier to avoid being hammered for glamorizing smoking, it seems unlikely to work.

Unfortunately, if e-cigs do appear in mainstream movies — no matter their context — more people (including teens) will use them.  That’s a fact of marketing. We’re probably safe for now though. It seems unlikely teens will run out in droves to see a drama about corrupt real estate eviction.

Vitamin-Enhanced E-Cigs Are Hitting The Market — Silly or Serious?

August 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

timthumb.phpSo it turns out that a company called VitaCig is producing a $5 disposable electronic cigarette what contains vitamins instead of nicotine. This comes from the same people that produced one of the many marijuana e-cigs on the market and who are looking to produce an alcohol-infused e-cig as well. It remains to be seen if this will be a legitimate business strategy.

But like so many other minority efforts in the e-cig market which may appear questionable, media outlets are already covering this one move by this one company as “all the rage” in the e-cig world. This seems pretty unlikely at the moment, but there are a few interesting directions these new products could go.

timthumb2.phpAs the Verge article states, inhalation is not a good method of obtaining vitamins. What the lungs don’t block outright, still needs to penetrate the body enough to get to the blood. According to some experts, about 80-85% of the contents of vapor tends to be breathed back out during e-cig use. On top of that, VitaCig’s products don’t appear to contain that much of the vitamins they claim to give you.

From the article: “If you’re an adult woman, one VitaCig contains 1/11th of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin B1, 1/150th of your daily Vitamin E, 1/750th of your daily Vitamin C, and just 1/5000th of your daily Vitamin A.”

Perhaps the company is going for qualification as a supplement for the product. This would dramatically reduce the control the FDA has over the products. And really, what about vitamin-enhanced nicotine-absent electronic cigarettes would make them possible to regulate as a tobacco product? Maybe VitaCig just found a loophole.

Either way, the idea seems like little more than a marketing ploy that threads dangerously close to health-related marketing. We’ll see if that changes.

The Vaping Hobby At A Glance

August 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s always nice to see members of the vaping community produce something that helps new entrants learn about what they’ve gotten themselves into. The latest such bit of vaping literature is a simple infographic that we think you should see. It very quickly relates to a viewer what the basic, intermediate, and advanced products in the vaping world look like.

The graphic comes from 4chan’s technology community. Check it out below.

BhNussZ

The vaping hobby is one that can quickly get out of hand when it comes to buying more and more gear. But given that, for most, it’s an alternative to smoking, that’s hardly a problem.

CDC Report: Use of E-Cigs by Middle and High Schoolers Up 60% This Year

August 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

CDC-bird-flu-contaminationLast year, the CDC reported a doubling of electronic cigarette use among middle and high schoolers. Many major media outlets, public health groups, and anti-smoking groups all grabbed the news and raised the alarms over the product that was ensnaring a new generation in a lifetime of nicotine and smoking addiction. The next round of that report is out, and the growth over the last year is was 60%.

According to the report, an estimated 263,000 middle and high school students used e-cigarettes without having ever smoked regular cigarettes. This was up from 160,000 in 2012 and 79,000 in 2011. While these numbers are likely to be used to further raise alarms, it is interesting that the growth of e-cig use among teens has diminished so dramatically just in the last 2 years.

cdc-bldgWhat’s interesting is that the growth of use among teens has been close to in line with the industry’s overall growth — both roughly doubling each year. This year, however, e-cig industry growth appears mostly steady what teen use is not growing as quickly. This could mean that use among teens is not as concerning as some would make it out to be. It’s rapidly appearing as if the primary reason they get purchased is to replace cigarettes for those that can’t or won’t quit.

So far, coverage of the report has mostly avoided mentioning that these number indicate a decline in growth rate.

One thing that researchers were quick to focus in on is that those teens which did use e-cigs were twice as likely to say that they intend smoke as well. This is a common and expected sensibility for those teens that do try e-cigs. However, this doesn’t actually prove in any way that teens who use e-cigs are more likely to smoke as some have suggested. More than likely, this is just a backward way of viewing data that shows that any individual that smokes is more likely to try e-cigs.

You can read the release from the CDC right here.

World Health Organization Issues Major Report Pushing for E-Cig Regs

August 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

WHO-World-Health-OrganizationA new report from the World Health Organization refers to electronic cigarettes as a serious threat to youth and foetuses (the plural of fetus). It further pushes for bans against sales of the products to youth, health-related claims by sellers, indoor use, and advertising.

This comes as many national and international groups are debating over how to react to the sudden and incredible growth of a new industry. Despite research and experts theorizing that the products are far less harmful than cigarettes and capable of replacing them, many groups are still pushing against them. This is mostly because the fight against smoking has been so emotional that few can see e-cigs as anything other than the same thing.

260359054The EU in particular proposed a new tobacco products directive which includes controls for electronic cigarettes. The fight over whether these controls are necessary and appropriate is now beginning to heat up. Those controls are set to start in 2016.

Though the World Health Organization has indicated in the past that it favored heavy regs for the e-cig industry, this is the first major statement on the products to really dig in on what the group’s sensibilities are with regard to the products.

You can read more about the statement here or here.

British Secretary of State for Heath May Have Flipped His View On E-Cigs

August 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

hunt_2328701bDespite pushing back in November for regulation of electronic cigarettes as pharmaceutical products, the British Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, may have changed his mind about the devices. He recently gave approval for a challenge to the new EU Tobacco Products Directive which would question everything it hopes to do with electronic cigarettes.

The challenge was brought by British electronic cigarette manufacturer Totally Wicked. It argues that controls placed by the proposed Tobacco Products Directive planned to launch in 2016 unnecessarily restrict commerce freedoms of e-cig companies without any due cause. In order for the challenge to be reviewed by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), it first had to be brought against Hunt.

I am by no means a scholar of British and EU law. But here’s my understanding of the situation. A challenge against EU health regulations must first be brought against the local nation’s head of health. It seems that rather than fight the challenge, Hunt had the option to say You have a fair point, and let the challenge through to the CJEU. That’s what Hunt did.

jeremy-hunt-secretary-state-healthNow while this might not mean anything for Hunt’s views of electronic cigarettes (he may still want them regulated into oblivion), it does mean that Totally Wicked has a reasonable grievance against the directive. Also, Hunt clearly could have gummed up the works and acted as a choke point for the grievance simply by making it go through formal proceedings against him first. That he didn’t suggests either that he is warming up to electronic cigarettes or at least that he believes they should get a fair opportunity to make their case like any other industry.

The Tobacco Products Directive brings sweeping changes to all things tobacco, but also spends ample time outlining how electronic cigarettes (despite not containing tobacco) are to be regulated. This includes (but is not limited to) banning TV and radio ads, requiring new products applications, information leaflets, extensive warnings on packages, and extensive product data tracking. Essentially, the directive applies tobacco level controls to a product research suggests is 99% less harmful.

The challenge from Wicked argues that the Tobacco Products Directive is overreaching and works to demolish an industry’s competitive advantage without due cause. This goes against much of the EU’s commerce sensibilities.

You can read more about Hunt’s possible change of heart here.

Ontario’s Premier: More Research Needed Before Decision to Ban E-Cigs Should Happen

August 22, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

1wynne_in_town-4Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne has been pressured recently to push through smoking bans against electronic cigarettes. She spoke at a conference recently where she argued that much more research and investigation is needed before the decision can be made.

Toronto’s Board of Health has been demanding that Ontario’s leadership place bans on e-cig flavors, retail displays, selling to anyone below the age of 19, and the use of the products anywhere that smoking too is banned. They are far from the only group pushing for these rules. However, they’re stated that if the province’s government hasn’t stepped in by February then they will push their own rules through for the city of Toronto.

imagesWynne argued I don’t think we have enough information yet. She’s probably right. The information she’s been given by public health and anti-smoking groups is likely slanted against the devices. However, what little information she’s been giving that supports open access to e-cigs is probably cause enough to give the devices a chance.

And really, arguments for bans don’t have a lot of ground to stand on. Toronto’s medical officer of health is calling for the rules because of possible health risks associated with exposure to second-hand vapour. In most sensible regulatory environments, possible risk should be enough to investigate further, not enough to completely shut down a market.

The science isn’t going to help Toronto’s cause either. Most of it is revealing that there is no harm caused by the second-hand effects of electronic cigarette vapor and that open access to e-cigs only diminishes and replaces use of tobacco cigarettes — which is always a good thing.

Wynne may ultimately act against electronic cigarettes, but that she wants all the information possible before making a decision is very promising.

The Penalty For Selling Unregistered E-Liquid In Hong Kong Is Really Hefty

August 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ARXB3F_2149102bA 30-year-old man was arrested this week in Hong Kong for selling unregistered e-liquid and could now face a fine of up to $100,000 and two years of imprisonment. That’s $100,000 in Hong Kong dollars which works out to a little less than $13,000 in U.S. dollars. Still, ouch.

The Department of Health there considers nicotine to be a Part 1 poison — meaning that it can only be sold at an ASP (an authorized seller of poisons) by a registered pharmacist. This means that anyone selling the products online is in violation of this ruling.

The man arrested had sold e-liquid online under the FEELVAPE brand and was caught following a public complaint.

You can read about the arrest here. More investigation is being done on the incident.

This could be the start to an interesting trend. Some electronic cigarette sellers here in the US get their products from China and Hong Kong (which is considers a “special administrative region” of the county). Though Hong Kong is fairly autonomous, the regulatory sensibilities of both are not that wildly disparate.

If China as a whole starts going after electronic cigarette and e-liquid sellers, we could see the impact here rather quickly.

NHS Stop Smoking Services Hotline Losing Quitters To E-Cigs

August 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

NHS_2423783bFor the second year in a row the number of individuals calling England’s National Health Services to assist them in quitting smoking has dropped. The new report showed nearly a fifth less individuals setting quit dates year to year. The actual numbers look a bit more stark. While 586,000 individuals used the line this past year, more than 740,000 did so in the previous.

National Health Services began offering a Stop Smoking Services line in 2001 and has seen some degree of success assisting individuals with their quitting efforts. Presumable individuals which call the line are 4 times more likely to quit than those that don’t — though that’s probably more an indicator of individual looking to quit versus individuals not so.

Recent drops in the usage of that hotline have been blamed on a few factors. Among them were changes in the overall infrastructure at National Health Services and a reduction in mass media campaigning against smoking.

p.166.imgBut perhaps the most interesting presumed culprit in the drop of NHS hotline usage is electronic cigarettes. It seems the general public is growing more and more skeptical of traditional smoking cessation methods and assistance services. For about two years now, accepted forms of smoking cessation have been on the decline in a number of European regions as more individuals move to e-cigs as their quitting method of choice.

Despite reduced usage rates though, overall smoking prevalence is still on the decline (in some places more so than they have been in years). This suggests that there may be something out there still helping people quit.

Read more about this right here.

Zippo and Lorillard in International Battle Over BLU/blu

August 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ZIPPO-BLUA German court has just temporarily suspended all rights Lorillard has to sell electronic cigarettes in the country under the blu brand. The Zippo lighter company is pushing for ownership of the trademark which it applied to a line of cigar lighters around 10 years ago. Thus far, Zippo has filed suits in Canada, Mexico, the EU, and the US.

Zippo owns a trademark for BLU (all caps) while the electronic cigarette brand is blu (all lowercase). It is often legal for companies with fairly distinct products or services to own the same trademark — for example, there can be a Tom’s Grocery Store and a Tom’s Tanning Salon. However, given the close relation the two companies have to the tobacco industry, it seems unlikely that both can own and use the brand.

Blu-Cigs-300x289This is not unusual for the e-cig space. The influx of new brands was likely to create new overlap. NJOY (all caps) electronic cigarettes, for instance, shares its brand with njoy (all lowercase) adult toys. There’s not really any overlap, so it is unlikely that the two brands might intermingle. Though this could still be a fight to be had.

Lorillard purchased blu back in 2012 and has benefited from the acquisition grabbing nearly half of all gas station electronic cigarette retail in the US.

This global fight over the brand might be a losing fight though. Zippo’s BLU has certainly been around longer. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that R.J. Reynolds, which is purchasing Lorillard, is planning to sell off blu immediately.

According to reports on the matter, blu isn’t very active in the German market. Lorillard still needs to fight the decision though, because it could impact potential internet sales at least or have a domino effect on other countries’ decisions at worst.

Canada’s Doctors Take Stance Against Anti-Marijuana Campaigning

August 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

canada-marijuanaA statement from the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada was released this past weekend which stated they would not participate in Health Canada’s new anti-drug campaign targeting young people. The joint statement argued that the new campaign was primarily a platform for pushing a particular set of political views.

From the statement: “We did not, and do not, support or endorse any political messaging or political advertising on this issue.”

It seems the new campaign from Health Canada focuses primarily on arguing for total abstinence from and prohibition of marijuana. Meanwhile, many doctors and experts are beginning to feel that legalization and responsible regulation is a much more effective and appropriate route. This seems to be the same circumstances as those surrounding electronic cigarettes.

You can read more about this story right here.

marijuana-flag1There is a growing trend among doctors and experts to support (or at least not fight against) reduced harm and legalization options for various currently illegal products. Rather than completely prohibiting the use or consumption of a product that some don’t agree with, open but regulated use seems to fix a lot of the associated problems. Primarily, it encourages use of legal options over often more dangerous illegal options, it reduces the likelihood of contraband and organized crime networks benefiting from sales, and places safety and quality controls on products. Often just having more open dialogue and education about products leads to far more responsible use.

More and more we’re seeing stories like this — where doctors or experts are taking a stand against the kind of fear-mongering, crowd-pleasing, and political posturing that tends to come with fights against drugs, sex, violence, and almost anything fun.

Where electronic cigarettes are concerned, fighting against smoking has become so over-extended and inclusive that the products — despite appearing very successful cessation options and far less damaging smoking alternatives — are being fought at every turn. A stance against this was taken by 53 tobacco scientists and smoking cessation experts in a letter to the World Health Organization.

Seeing similar things happen in other areas only makes things seem more promising for e-cigs.

E-Cig in Checked Baggage Nearly Starts Fire On Plane, Officials Investigating

August 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

plane-31_1261755576There’s not much information at the moment, but it seems passengers were forced to evacuate a plane in Boston this week when an electronic cigarette burned a hole through a checked bag. The incident is likely to draw a lot of attention.

Officials at Logan International Airport, where the incident occurred, are now calling for authorities to place restrictions for electronic cigarettes on planes. Meanwhile, it is almost certain that the same anti-e-cig voices we’re accustomed to hearing will be spouting off about how dangerous the devices are.

However, it seems unlikely authorities can really do anything that might prevent this situation. While they can certainly place heavy controls on what is checked, it is difficult to police electronic cigarettes in checked baggage. After all, current regulations allow firearms, power saws, ammunition, flare guns, and small compressed gas canisters to be in checked baggage.

Restricting carry-on access of electronic cigarettes seems to be the most likely step regulators will start with. But this incident occurred in checked luggage — and might actually have been prevented had the device been with the passenger. Like so many other stories, there isn’t much else to go on, but you can read about it here.

According to the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the situation.

Analysts: Invest in Tobacco, Regulators Are Killing E-Cigs

August 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

cigs_2310593b“You can’t attack a safer option to something without invariably aiding the more risky option.”

That seems to be the quote of the day. An adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa chimed in on a story from the National Post this week saying that campaigning against electronic cigarettes is making things easier for the tobacco industry. He goes on to argue that abstinence-only campaigns cause people to miss out when they can’t quit entirely.

But the main story is that three London-based analysts wrote a recent review arguing that it’s a great time to buy into the tobacco market. Among a variety of reasons was that regulators and anti-smoking groups are fighting e-cigs so much they’re actually helping further stabilize and reinforce the conventional tobacco industry.

cigpackscmsWhile regulators are making it difficult for electronic cigarette sellers to market and sell their products, anti-smoking groups are doing their damnedest to shed doubt on the devices. Despite a litany of studies arguing that e-cigs are far less harmful and that they work for those hoping to quit smoking, many wage a campaign for fear and ignorance on the general public.

All this means that traditional tobacco businesses benefit. Those that might switch to electronic cigarettes either run into obstacles in obtaining the devices or are told they’re better off quitting entirely (which means many simply stick to smoking).

But tobacco isn’t the only industry that benefits from this. Pharmaceutical companies that sell expensive and largely useless smoking cessation drugs and therapies also benefit. E-cigs in a number of studies have out-performed current accepted methods of quitting. But with regulators and anti-smoking groups arguing against e-cigs, many individuals won’t give them a shot even though it appears millions have already quit smoking with their help.

You can read the National Post article right here.

Vape Gets Added to the Oxford Dictionary Online

August 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce every few months, the powers that be at Britain’s Oxford University Press decide on new words to be added to its online edition of the Oxford Dictionary. New words are chosen based on their usage and frequency online, in newspapers, and in various other sources. Vape — the use of electronic cigarettes or vapor products — is one of the latest words to be added.

Other words to be added include adorbs, binge-watch, humblebrag, listicle, neckbeard, side boob, yolo, live-tweet, bro hug, cray, hench, hot mess, mansplain, side-eye, acquihire, clickbait, deep web, dox, fast follower, geocache, in silico, octocopter, responsive, smartwatch, tech-savvy, and spit-take.

Oxford University Press bookshopMost of the words being added were spawned or popularized primarily through internet and social media — and few are anything more than slang. Most don’t even seem to add much to the English language — primarily existing as contractions or abbreviations of existing words.

Binge-watch, for example, means to watch an excessive amount of a show — often in a single sitting. It came into being because Netflix made it easy to do. But really, the word binge by itself would have been fine.

Vape, however, is the only word that seems to have needed to exist. There was a vacuum around the use of electronic cigarettes in which people using them didn’t want to call it smoking. And really, smoking was not an appropriate term for it since there is no smoke. So vape, vaping, and vaper were all words that needed to be made.

Oxford added E-cigarette in August of 2012. Read more here.

Study: Smokers Prefer to Quit Using E-Cigs

August 13, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Daryl CuraA new consumer behavior study has found that smokers very much prefer electronic cigarettes to other cessation options. The survey of more than 20,000 households throughout the U.S. turned up some not surprising but still encouraging results.

The study comes from Kantar Media — the second largest market research firm on the planet. It found that of those individuals which had used a product to quit smoking within the last 12 months, 57% used electronic cigarettes. This far surpassed the 39% which used a prescription drug and 39% which used over-the-counter methods like gums, lozenges, and patches. There was some overlap in product use.

kantar KMoreover, e-cig users were 35% more likely than all adults to say they were healthier now than they were one year ago. E-cig users were even more likely to feel healthier than those individuals using other cessation means to quit.

The study also looked at a number of demographic data points for those that used electronic cigarettes. E-cig users were more likely to be young, male, to have lower household incomes than the national average, and were more likely to play video games and poker, more likely to watch reality TV, and more likely to go to bars and night clubs. I would argue that all these trends are also the case for cigarette smokers — and since e-cig users are predominantly former or current smokers, this is not a surprise.

The study also found that e-cig users were more likely to live in the south (which again, I think relates to normal smoking figures). However, in the region including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee, the ratio of electronic to tobacco cigarette users was nearly two to one. Holy crap! E-cigs really are stomping out smoking!

The study was covered by TIME, and you can download a free copy of it here — though like any good marketing company, they hold what you want ransom for some of your information.

Philip Morris Plans to Sue Over Plain Packaging Laws in UK

August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

handmade-in-ukThe United Kingdom proposed some laws which, if passed, would require tobacco cigarette packages to be sold without any unique branding and with graphic warnings on them. This would utterly destroy a given cigarette brand’s ability to make itself distinct and recognizable among the large number of other options. According to Reuters, Philip Morris plans to sue the UK government over the law should it pass.

Plain packaging laws are the next serious move in the fight against tobacco, but no where near the only step being taken. Philip Morris is also fighting impending European Union regulations that outlaw menthol flavored cigs, require text and graphic warnings over 65% of product packages, and require more extensive product tracking processes to fight the contraband trade.

the-new-face-of-cigaretteIf these things pass while electronic cigarettes are provided nearly free reign to market and sell openly, it could be the final death knell for tobacco cigarettes. Compared to e-cigs, tobacco cigarettes are rapidly proving obsolete. If their ability to market effectively is also threatened, e-cigs may truly surpass them within the next 8-10 years as has been theorized.

Australia already instituted a plain packaging law for cigarettes as of December 2012 and the results thus far are unclear (but they do appear promising). The World Trade Organization is pressuring the country to reverse the decision however. That pressure comes from arguments that plain packaging laws illegally infringe on a company’s freedom to advertise and market its products. Thus far, Australia appears resistant to reversing the decision.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. Already electronic cigarettes are being pointed at as the cause of steep declines in tobacco cessation product sales. In many ways, the EU and UK appear willing to give e-cigs a chance. If they continue to completely destroy tobacco marketing options while allowing e-cigs to grow, they could see dramatically decreased smoking rates long before anyone else.

You can read more about Philip Morris and UK’s plain packaging regs here.

NACS Supports Regulation of E-Cigs as Tobacco Products

August 11, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

gas-stationNot too surprising news this week is that the Association of Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS) has filed comments with the FDA largely in support of its proposed deeming regulations. The regs would have electronic cigarette regulated essentially as tobacco cigarettes along with some other provisions which further hammer anyone selling anything remotely tobacco related.

The NACS posted a press release this week stating that it had submitted comments on the proposal — most of which claimed to largely support the new rules with only two minor exceptions and one big one. The first minor exception asked that a provision requiring retailers which sell individual cigars to place a warning adjacent to each cash register be removed. The second exception was to request that the period between when the regs passing and when they become effective to be extended 30 days — for a grand total of 120 days.

176811070The big exception was that the NACS wanted all new regulations to be extended to cover online sales as well — particularly those of electronic cigarettes. At the moment, the FDA is not openly combating online sales of e-cigs, but many feel this is likely to change. It seems likely that either the FDA has included some subversive language in the new rules which will make online sales difficult, or they will push for changes in a second round of regulation to come.

In both cases, the NACS is looking to establish a significant regulatory advantage for convenience stores over dedicated brick and mortar vape shops. Forcing harsher regs onto the electronic cigarette world consolidates options from many to few.

Right now, convenience stores only offer a few options and very few flavors. If vape shops are forced to only offer a limited number of flavors, can’t sell larger devices, can’t sell online, or innovation in the industry is brought to a stand still, the variety vape shops can offer goes away and convenience stores will likely get the business. If online sales go away — which is likely if harsh regs make it difficult or impossible to sell digitally (as they have for tobacco cigarettes) — then convenience stores further dominate the market through distribution advantage.

You can read the press release from NACS right here.

Quick Reminder: One Day Left To Send Deeming Comments To FDA

August 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

omitir-palavras-inglêsIt feels like the FDA proposed deeming regulations for electronic cigarettes just yesterday. Already though, the deadline for the comment period, is tomorrow. It would have been a month ago, but the FDA saw fit to push out the comment period by 30 days.

If you have a comment to make, now’s the time!

Here’s a bit on the deeming proposal. Just this week, we found out that the application required for new tobacco products is likely to take around 5,000 man hours to complete — plus studies, clinical trials, and chemical testing.

Here’s a quick rundown of the primary concerns with the proposed regulations:

  • Small e-cig businesses will be priced out of the market by expensive application and compliance processes.
  • Massive tobacco and pharmaceuticals companies will be able to buy or destroy the e-cig industry as they please because they’re the only ones with enough money to participate.
  • Keeping e-cigs out of the hands of would-be quitters or taking them from individuals that have quit only sends them back to smoking.
  • Preventing the e-cig industry from advertising and marketing competitively takes away the one great market advantage the products have.

You can submit comments right here.

 

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