At the Next Generation Nicotine Delivery conference at the end of last year, Liam Humberstone, technical director of Totally Wicked, talked us through what it is like developing new and innovative products in this changing legislative environment. This was incredibly interesting both as a supplier and a vaper as it really painted a picture of the past, present and future of where the technology is driving.
We can see a huge shift in the what is found on the market today compared with what was around in 2008/9. The cig-a-likes used to be the main product that one would see everywhere, that every ordinary vaper was using. Now, however, these devices have been relegated to mere cornershops as the majority of vapers are seen with e-cigarettes like the ego-type or even billowing clouds of vapour from fancier looking devices. There is still a whole range of devices for a wide range of customers, from the enthusiastic hobbyist to the early adopter. So how to we keep that momentum going now that the market is trending towards more advanced technology?
The industry has been fortunate up until now as the lack of big money meant that we could develop products slightly outside of the current legislation. 2008/9 was like a wild west where anything went and people were even mixing E-Liquids in their bathtubs. Thankfully it is not so wild as that anymore but we are now seeing more control from these regulations and a lot more publicity on what's going on in the vaping community, so now we can't do whatever we want to develop new products. Despite the controlling nature of the regulations, this is really a good thing for a growing industry like ours.
So what are the true impact of the new regulations to the development of vaping technology? Well, a lot of what they ask for just isn't possible, so we can only hope that they will be more flexible as they begin to come into effect this year. Liam went on to give examples of the regulations that will need to be looked as moving forward. The regulations are asking for tanks to be 100% leak-free. Now that's not completely possible but the industry has been trying to accommodate this and leaps have been made with top fill and air flow technology. Child-proofing isn't a reasonable request with these devices and consumers take a risk when dealing with nicotine products, but we of the industry will do the best we can.
The fact is that regulations will give consumers less choice, less convenience and more cost. But if we work with the regulators, then we can find a common ground to make sure that we can still develop tech and stay on the right side of those making new regulations. Because, at the end of the day we aren't going to see the end of regulations in the vaping industry and we want to be helping to guide them as they develop. These regulations will improve the safety and mean that we can't be labelled as 'wild west' or 'cowboy' by the media. Liam is of the opinion that innovation won't change much but instead reveal better and better devices for replacing tobacco. Let's hope he is correct.