The Future of Vaping: Updated
Vaping is a cutting-edge industry. We’ve seen mind-blowing growth and development since its genesis and even more changes will emerge in the coming years. As we ride the exhilarating edge of a new frontier, one cannot help but ponder what lies ahead. Luckily, experts in the industry and on its sidelines have insights into the future of vaping.
In light of the FDA’s heavy Deeming Regulations, I’ve updated this blog. Here are some speculations, predictions, and warnings for the cloudy future:
When a fledgling industry surges, predictions range from starry-eyed optimism to grim. Wells Fargo expects continued exponential growth (see graph above), projecting dizzying heights in 2017. Some experts, such as Clive Bates of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), attribute this optimism to vendors catering to user experience:
“Vaping will resume its inexorable rise because it will be easier for users to go straight to 2nd generation products that work for them. The business focus will be on simplicity and making sure new users can enter the category easily and without arcane knowledge.”
Others predict growth, with tragedies along the way. Blogger Joe Petner states,
“This year I predict we are going to see many online sites, juice lines, and brick and mortars go out of business. This is not due to a lack of growth in the industry. This is due to so many vapers starting their own shops and juice lines. We have already seen some very popular websites go out of business and I fear this will be a continuing trend. My advice to those already in business – SAVE YOUR MONEY. You will need it to weather this storm. This is one prediction I would love to be wrong about.”
If market conditions remain constant, the future of vaping looks very bright. Of course, that is a big “if.” It is impossible to discuss vaping’s economic future without considering the regulatory and legislative battles raging now, and what battles are yet to come…
A Siege of Regulation:
The future of vaping may be decided by legislators if the vaping community fails to make its collective voice heard. Grassroots support itself may not be enough to keep the vaping economy alive; like a sprouting tree, the industry needs a hospitable environment to flourish. Bans, prohibitions, and harsh regulations might cripple the market before vaping can reach its full potential. YouTube vaping heavyweight PBusardo warns of a rocky road ahead:
“Bans, regulations, taxes, and all the other nonsense we’ve grown accustomed to…we can’t overlook it. It’s not the boy who cried wolf. This WILL effect us all eventually and we need to remain involved and continue to fight for our rights as vapers. I’d very much like to see a more coordinated effort and perhaps a ‘joining of forces’ between the different groups currently available. Will vaping go away? At this point, I don’t think so. But how we choose to vape is constantly in jeopardy.”
The consensus among experts is a turbulent path to freedom. Grimm Green foresees that the struggle against the FDA and state/local governments will be an “ongoing battle.” Jean-François Etter, professor of public health at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva in Switzerland gives a particularly grim prophesy:
“The Tobacco industry will reinforce its grip on the tobacco/nicotine vaporizers market. Their business model rests on 3 pillars (R&D, regulation, marketing). They cannot envision doing business in this field without using their influence to obtain a ‘friendly’ regulation. This means sitting behind closed doors with high-level civil servants and MPs, and building a high regulatory wall around this business.
The consequences are that small players and Chinese manufacturers will be eliminated, because they cannot buy the entry ticket in this market (which is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars for studies and FDA applications, etc.). The worst thing is that the tobacco industry is helped by many public health professionals, who relentlessly call for tighter regulation, not understanding that they are playing with the tobacco industry. In a few years from now, this industry will control this market, and they will be in a position to stifle this market, if they see that it is less profitable than the cigarette market.”
The regulatory future of vaping is truly uncertain. Many variables come into play, including the FDA, local governments, grassroots support, alarmist propaganda, Big Tobacco’s economic clout, and scientific (along with unscientific) research. We can all do our part, and perhaps a populist surge could keep the vaping world free.
As of May of 2016, the FDA passed its Deeming Regulations. The regulatory authority of the FDA now covers cigars, pipe tobacco, vaping devices, and nicotine gels. August 8th is the new deadline, with compliance periods staggered months and years past that date.
What we can expect is massive testing fees for each individual SKU, amounting to millions. Obviously, startups and mom-and-pop shops are not fiscally prepared for these expenses.
The horror lies in the precedence these regulations set. The FDA is enormous, and getting bigger. Soon, all things consumable will be under the thumb of Big Regulation.
One of the most exciting aspects of vaping is the rate of technological advancement. John Manzione of Spinfuel Magazine claims, “Smokers are moving past cig-a-likes and jumping into the bigger, better devices faster than ever. This will continue, and the time it takes for a former smoker to get to the larger devices will get shorter and shorter.” Soon, what we consider “intermediate” vaping (mods, subohm coils, cloudchasing) will become a point-of-entry for smokers looking to switch. The idea of Subox Mini Starter Kits and Atlantis tanks in gas stations may not be far off.
As a counterpoint, the vaping elite will undoubtedly advance their craft. Grimm Green speculates, “The hardware will be going into two directions: some of it will become much easier and more simple to use, like we have seen with the Aspire Nautilus and Atlantis tanks. The other side of it will become much more ‘hobbyist’ and complex, and unfortunately, much more expensive.”
The rate of change in the vaping community can be overwhelming. In an industry with so many variables, who can truly predict its fate? To close, I will leave you with a quote from Herbert Gilbert, the inventor of the first electronic cigarette:
“I predict that the continuing ongoing growth of scientific knowledge proving that tobacco kills while e-cigs save lives can only result in even more millions of lives being saved…and that is my prediction based on simple logic. When people learn and comprehend the difference, they will stop killing themselves with tobacco, and switching to ecigs will provide a proven and scientifically recognized way to do just that.”
Something to think about:
What developments do you foresee in the future of vaping?