The Latest from the Wells Fargo Securities E-Cig Forum

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Another sign of an industry growing up, today marks the inaugural Wells Fargo Securities E-Cig Forum in New York City. The event, hosted by Wells Fargo, an investment bank with a strong history of interest in the e-cigarette market, includes presentations from some of the largest and most successful electronic cigarette companies & brands as well as a public health and regulatory panel.

Our e-cigarette industry point man, Klaus Kneale, is at the event with some notes from the presentations:

These points are meant to be a snapshot of opinions and perceptions in the e-cigarette industry and should not be taken as plain fact or anything written in stone.

-Mission: Obsolete Smoking. Perhaps the most common thread here as stated by representatives of NJOY is the goal of taking out cigarettes. The industry and now even some public health experts are hoping e-cigs will make smoked cigarettes an obsolete product.

-200, Baby! It’s now believed that the United States hosts more than 200 full-fledged electronic cigarette companies.

-Growth of e-cig sales seem more likely to boot out tobacco cigarette displays than force e-cig companies to fight for space among one another.

-Retail:2014 will be a year of crazy growth for retail e-cig distribution and will likely put previous industry growth to shame.

David Abrams is officially on our side! The former major anti e-cig tobacco prohibitionist spoke as part of a public health panel in support of (reasonable) open access and promotion of electronic cigarettes in light of their relative harm (almost none) compared to tobacco cigarettes.

-The industry now refers to “mods” as “open system devices”. This relates to the idea of customization without reminding people that mods used to be made out of nearly anything like power tools or household batteries.

-Public health experts think that an estimate that e-cigs are 1 to 2 percent as harmful as cigarettes may actually be a very conservative estimate. It may actually be closer to 0.5 percent or less.

-Advertising: There is still a lot of debate over what is an acceptable level of advertising. Some want much, much less to calm anti e-cig zealots. Some want much, much more to continue decline and replacement of tobacco cigarettes. This issue is likely to divide the industry more than most others.

-Innovation: The one thing that has the industry going for it more than anything else is innovation. It leads to higher quality, more safety, less harm and better user experience. If regulation stifles innovation, it will freeze the industry and close down most of the growth.

-Regulation: Regardless of individual views, everyone here agrees that regulation is not just inevitable, but desirable. The industry is simply too nimble to be regulated with stone laws. The best description of what is needed perhaps is “Intelligent Flexibility”.

We’ll follow up with more information from the event as it becomes available.

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