At the conference last week we were privileged to see a presentation from Mark Keyaha from MadVapes, who came to talk to us about the challenges that the US are currently facing over their own set of regulations from the FDA. One thing that came out of the talk was that we in the EU are actually quite lucky in comparison with our friends across the water. The FDA regulations are making it increasingly difficult to sell, especially as a small company, and Mark had some interesting thoughts on how the industry over there and here would be shaped by what goes on over the next year or so.
First of all he wondered if perhaps the FDA recognition might not be a good thing for vaping. After all, it could create trust in the product that would help increase sales as more and more people realised they weren't as dangerous as the media likes to make out. The constant flurry of articles in which ecigs are demonised as ticking time bombs, would be countered by the FDA backing them as fully regulated and tested products. Would this increase in trust, and hopefully sales, balance out the huge cost that US companies currently face to get up to a regulation standard?
He made the argument that, actually, we are lucky over here in that many respected bodies have come out in defence of E-cigs. We can fall back on health claims from organisations such as Public Health England and ASH to help our argument. The US NGO's are always fighting industry, that's always been how they've operated. This means they will constantly back up their anti-vaping stance with disproved studies and stats taken out of context. For instance, there is always the argument that 80% of underage vapers do so with different flavours, proving that having a variety of sweet flavours draws children into electronic cigarettes. That having these flavours is specifically designed to get younger vapers. But if you compare that with the statistic that 85-90% of adult vapers use these flavours as well, suddenly that argument doesn't become as potent. Over in the US they are fighting a war of words, just like we are here, but they are fighting with almost no support.
He went on to say that perhaps Trump could actually be good for the industry. The controversial President-Elect could be instrumental in pushing through the 'Grandfather Bill'. This is The FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015 (HR 2058), introduced by Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, that would save the U.S. vaping industry from being destroyed by improper regulations by the FDA. This bill would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act to change the grandfather date for “deemed tobacco products.” This change would allow for most ecig products currently on the market to remain on the market without being subject to the burdensome pre-market FDA approval application process. This will ease the introduction of the FDA's regulations and help the industry stay on its feet.
When asked how he saw the industry going in the next five years, he said that the landscape would dramatically change but it wouldn't disappear. Rather than a motley collection of small E-Cigarette businesses, we would see the emergence of large, multi-national corporations. These companies would resemble the current tobacco companies with huge resources at their fingertips. Innovation and tech building would move from China to the EU, but the regulations would still lead to fewer choices and a higher cost. Single stores won't have the ability to manufacture E-Liquid anymore, and third-party liquids would begin to dry up, meaning many vaping stores that don't belong to chains will begin to close down.
He certainly painted a much more commercial view of the future, only time will tell if it comes to fruition.