The vaping industry was constantly making headlines in 2016. In fact, there was so much news surrounding the vaping industry last year that we had to break this review down into 3 parts. So, let's take a look at part 1: vape news, research and regulations from January through April.A Review of the Vaping Industry in 2016: Part 1
From positive news out of the UK to the “teen vaping leads to smoking” gateway theory that just won't go away, there was much to talk about when it came to the vaping industry in 2016.Vape News from January 2016
In early January 2016, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) released the results of the largest vaping survey to date. Conducted in November and December of 2015 with more than 20,000 participants, the results contradicted several ongoing anti-vaping claims. Not only did the results reveal the importance of vaping for smoking cessation among survey participants, but also the importance of flavors when it comes to adult vaping. Unfortunately, the survey results didn't get as much attention as the “teen vaping leads to smoking” gateway theory, which dominated news headlines for the remainder of the month.
In the meantime, the UK started off the year by embracing vaping with the approval of the first vaping device to be prescribed for smoking cessation. Thanks to Public Health England's Evidence-Based Review on electronic cigarettes published in August of 2015 and its conclusion that “vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking”, physicians in the UK can now prescribe the vaping device for smokers seeking assistance in quitting smoking.
February 5th marked the first time a legal entity in the US made a clear distinction between vaping and smoking during a court hearing. The accused, Sean Thomas, was arrested for violating New York City's Smoke Free Air Act after being caught vaping on a subway platform. Although the Smoke Free Air Act does prohibit vaping anywhere smoking is banned, Thomas was being charged under state law, which did not include vaping in the ban. This allowed Thomas to successfully challenge his citation in court. After the judge defined smoking as ““the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco”, he went on to rule that vaping “does not fit within the definition of ‘smoking' under the law” and ruled in favor of the plaintiff.Vape News from March 2016
On March 3, 2016, California lawmakers voted to raise the smoking/vaping age from 18 to 21 in an attempt to make it more difficult for minors to acquire tobacco and vaping products. This legislation came with some tough criticism as opponents pointed out that American citizens are officially recognized as adults as of their 18th birthday and if at that age they can commit a felony and go to prison, then they should have the choice of whether or not they want to buy a pack of cigarettes. To add more fuel to the debate just one week after the vote, Weill Cornell Medicine investigators published study findings which suggested that “imposing age restrictions on the purchasing of electronic nicotine devices may unintentionally increase teenage cigarette use”.Vape News from April 2016
On April 4th, 2016, the United States Department of Transportation officially implemented a ban against vaping inflight. Among the reasons for the ban was the issue of increasing reports of exploding batteries in e-cigs, as well as concerns about the unknown risks of breathing vapor within confined spaces.
April 19th brought some positive news to the vaping industry during the Agricultural and Rural Development Appropriations bill hearing when the href="http://www.whitecloudelectroniccigarettes.com/blog/fda-regulations-update-possible-win-for-vaping-industry/" target="new">House Appropriations Committee passed the Cole/Bishop Amendment by a 31-19 vote. The amendment would move the FDA's set predicate date of February 15, 2007, to the effective date of the deeming regulations (August 8, 2016) to prevent the potential shutdown of 99% of the vaping industry. If passed, the amendment would grant products on the market prior to the August 8th date the ability to bypass the extremely costly PMTA process and remain on the market.
More positive news came on April 20th when a study on vaping and indoor air quality was presented at the 4th Workplace and Indoor Aerosols conference in Barcelona. The study's findings suggested that the contents of exhaled e-cig vapor disappear within seconds after being tested in an enclosed room. This study, among others, contradicts the theory that secondhand vapor is just as harmful as secondhand smoke.
Perhaps the best news the vaping industry could have received (at least in the UK) arrived on April 28th when the UK's Royal College of Physicians published the report, “Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction”. The report concluded that vaping was likely to be beneficial to UK public health and e-cigarettes should be promoted widely for smoking cessation. The findings of the report fell right in line with Public Health England's evidence-based review on e-cigs from 2015.What Came Next for the Vaping Industry?
Now that we've you the rundown of the news surrounding the vaping industry during the first quarter of 2016, stay tuned for Part 2 as we take a look at the vape news from May through August of 2016.
As a long time customer of White Cloud (long before I became a Customer Service Sentinel for the company) I have had the pleasure of using every product we have brought to market over the last 5 years. While my mainstays are the cartridges used with our Cirrus rechargeable e-cig line (first ClearDraw, then ClearDraw2 and now the ClearDraw Max) I have tried my fair share of disposables, cartridges, batteries, cases and flavors during my time here at WC.Experimenting with E-Liquids and Nicotine Strengths
When we here at White Cloud came out with our bottled e-liquids for purchase, I was chomping at the bit to give them a try – but, I had nothing to use them with as we were still awaiting the arrival of our e-liquid Mini Tanks (which are refillable tanks that screw onto your existing Cirrus batteries just like the pre-filled ClearDraw e-cig cartridges do). While I am well versed in our entire White Cloud product line, my knowledge of larger tank and mod systems (which are also suited for our e-liquids) was a bit lacking as I had never really used them regularly and only had a layman's knowledge of what they were about.
Related: The Vaper's Glossary
My curiosity (and, perhaps, a bit of my innate impatience) prompted me to go out and purchase a small tank system. With the glee of a kid let loose in a candy shop with a pocket full of change, I rushed home, glanced through the instruction booklet for the system I had just purchased (the print was very, very small so I was forced to squint very, very hard to read it) and loaded the tank up with my all-time favorite White Cloud flavor: Regular in the 5.4% NBV strength. With everything set up, I placed the mouthpiece to my lips and took a good, solid puff.
In my excited haste I had forgotten that, unlike White Cloud products, I needed to hold down a button on my new tank system when I took a puff. I shook my head (literally) and kicked myself a bit (figuratively) and tried again, this time button depressed as I puffed and pulled in a deep vapor cloud.
I spluttered and gagged.
My Regular, my 5.4% NBV, the very flavor and strength which kept me warm on the occasional chilly Florida winter days, the constant companion to my morning cup of coffee was…way too strong.
I tried a few more times, each attempt ending in the same result. When I got to work the next day, I picked up the 3.6% nicotine strength in the Regular flavor, one step below the 5.4% I usually use. While that was far more comfortable, it was still somewhat overpowering, which prompted me to start looking into why this may be. So I began experimenting with different nicotine strength levels, and I believe I may have hit on a good explanation, as well as a fantastic solution.Choosing the Right Nicotine Strength for Open Tank Systems
The White Cloud cig-a-like products I have been using for years deliver a certain amount of vapor and nicotine though a small opening; therefore, the vapor produced is relatively low compared to larger tank systems, which also operate at higher temperatures. As a very heavy smoker previously (over two packs a day for over 20 years), I craved a robust throat hit, as well as high nicotine content, and the 5.4% Regular flavor fit the bill quite nicely in that setting.
The tank system I was now using offered a very different delivery system. With a far, far wider aperture to pull vapor though creating vapor at higher temperatures than I was used to, combined with an awful lot more nicotine being distributed per puff, the 5.4% I was accustomed to puffing on was simply way too much of a good thing.
I started trying out different strength levels and found, much to my surprise, that the 1.6% nicotine strength suited me well, and the 0.8% nicotine strength suited me even better when used in my tank system. The additional vapor and heat produced from a lower nicotine strength level seemed to provide the throat hit and flavor I was used to when using a Cirrus battery with a cartridge.
After trying our e-liquids in refillable ‘pen' systems, I found that the throat hit of 5.4% was a bit more robust than usual, but also found it to be quite comfortable; however, I did note that going a strength down (to 3.6%) seemed to do the trick nicely for me. In our new Mini Tanks, I found that using the 5.4% in Regular flavor provided the same experience I had grown accustomed to when using the ClearDraw family of cartridges.
Since that point, I have used the 5.4% in our Mini Tanks and the 0.8% in the larger tank system, and this has made for a very satisfying experience. I also found that I am really enjoying some flavors away from the Regular Tobacco Flavor – Cherry Black, Chocolate and The Orchard in ultra light strength are becoming new mainstay vape flavors for me when using my tank system.
I hope this experiment proves helpful to you. As a long time customer myself, I completely get how using something new (like e-liquids instead of pre-filled cartridges) might have a bit of a learning curve, so I am always willing to share my experiences. If you found this helpful, or have run similar experiments with different results, please let us know!
Guest blog by John Crumley, White Cloud Customer Service Sentinel.
The vaping industry has endured its fair share of controversies over the last few years. From bad science and scare-mongering news headlines to strict laws placing vaping under the same category as smoking, it's no wonder why vapers have felt the need to step up and begin educating smokers and non-vapers; hence, the creation of vaping advocacy groups.The Fight Against FDA Vaping Regulations
From massive vaping advocacy groups such as the Consumers Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) and the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) to state level advocacy groups such as the Tennessee Smoke Free Association, there are several groups working to promote vaping awareness while battling unfair regulations.
During our DeMISTified Webinar Series, we spoke with a couple of head members from these groups who provided some important insights into what vapers can do to join the fight against the FDA's Deeming Regulations. Below you will find questions surrounding vaping advocacy with answers from the industry experts.What more can we do beyond writing and calling Congress?
There are multiple ways to join the fight against the FDA's Deeming Regulations. It's important to note that the regulations will never completely disappear. They can, however, be altered.↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“So I think that what everyone can do, who is concerned about this, is to write, call, or email their Congress members, especially in the House of Representatives right now, and let them know that this is going to lead many people back to smoking and that, for the interest of public health, we're asking them to prevent the FDA from taking this action.” – Dr. Michael Siegel
To show your support for vaping advocacy in the fight against overly strict regulations, consider the following:Sign this letter from CASAA to support HR 2058. Support the ‘A Billion Lives' vaping documentary. Find out who your pro-vaping officials are. Join vaping advocacy groups. Educate anti-vapers like Samantha Bee to help change public perception. Take a second to sign this petition. Participate in e-cigarette studies.
As Cynthia Cabrera said in our webinar series, “We need to educate, not intimidate, not threat, not insult,” when it comes to non-vapers.↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
Click to tweet: “We need to educate, not intimidate, not threat, not insult.” @cyncab http://bit.ly/FDARegs #FDADeeming #ECigs #Vaping #VapeNationBesides supporting advocacy groups, what should business owners be doing to help with advocacy efforts?
Business owners have a vested financial interest in a thriving vapor industry—an interest politicians in their areas also share. Creating jobs and stimulating the economy are as important to politicians as to entrepreneurs; thus, it's important to educate politicians of the negative economic impact of overly burdensome regulations. Senator Ron Johnson is a great example of one of the many political leaders in support of vaping who are stepping up to protect the industry.
↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“Book meetings, don't just send emails, book meetings. Meet with them face to face. Sit down, express your concerns, express what these regulations would do to your business, to your employees, and have them understand tobacco harm reduction.” – Dimitris AgrafiotisHow difficult is it to start a state level advocacy group like Smoke Free Tennessee and what steps does it take?
State level politics are no less important than the Federal level, and they are an important layer of advocacy that should not be ignored. Starting a state level advocacy group is not without its challenges, but it may be easier than you imagine.
↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“It's extremely difficult for a small shop to reach directly into a national organization, so my goal was to form an association that the shops can turn to for help locally. The organization can turn to a federal group such as the VTA (because the Tennessee Smoke Free Association is a member of the VTA) when we need federal guidance and we can help each other in the state.” – Dimitris AgrafiotisHow does the FDA plan on enforcing these new regulations?
If you do not take steps to comply with the FDA's Deeming Regulations, you will first receive a warning letter from the FDA, (here's an example), then the No-Tobacco Sale Orders or Civil Money Penalties, and finally judicial actions will occur, including injunctions or even criminal prosecution.
The FDA has released extended compliance dates for some rules, such as the packaging requirements, and is taking into account that some changes will take longer than others.↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“Essentially, they have abandoned their mission, which is to regulate tobacco products and they're turning it into a single-handed focused crusade on vaping products.” – Dr. Michael Siegel
Click to tweet: Not going to comply with #FDADeeming? Find out what happens: http://bit.ly/FDARegs #ECigs #Vaping #VapeNationWill any of the pending lawsuits put the regulations on hold?
Lawsuits challenging FDA Deeming Regulations have the potential to delay certain parts of the regulations; however, this process could take months, years, or even decades to obtain an end decision.
↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“Litigation only stops things if it's an injunction. The cases, the two that have been filed so far, are not injunctions. So things are just gonna continue as planned.” – Cynthia CabreraWhat would it take to get an injunction?
We suggest you seek out an attorney for advice. Cynthia Cabrera goes into great detail in our webinar video below.
↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“Courts tend to side with the FDA, so already we've got that working against us.” – Cynthia CabreraHas the release of the federal regulations slowed the state level legislation?
No, in some cases it has increased the visibility to states. Let's take a look at California, for example: they are leading the charge in not selling to minors by increasing tobacco purchasing age to 21, increasing delivery restrictions and photo identification rules, and are pushing towards banning vaping in public parks and beaches.
Then we have Utah, where online e-cig orders are banned; then New Jersey, where legislators are attempting to ban flavors. Other states have been looking into implementing or increasing taxation, such as Pennsylvania's massive tax on vapor products
Vaping has been an issue that has long been put on the backburner, and the states are happy to jump on board.
↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“We've got challenges at the federal level, at the state level, sometimes at the local level and it's just never ending. It's absolutely exhausting. Yeah, we've got a lot of work to do.” – Cynthia CabreraWhat do you attribute to the different views of England and the U.S.?
Dr. Siegel does a great job explaining the differences between the two forms of public health in our webinar. Watch the video below for a snapshot overview.
↓ Watch the video explanation here ↓
“I think that one difference is that, what they have in England that we don't have here is have public health groups that are embracing harm reduction.” – Dr. Michael Siegel
Based on the direction of the FDA and news stories, we predict that we'll start to see a push for flavor bans, requirements for ingredients to be listed on the products, and even more tax hikes on e-cigs. We have been waiting for this industry to become regulated for quite some time now. Unfortunately, the regulations failed to address some of the major concerns plaguing the vaping industry. For instance, the FDA deeming regulations did not address the risk of exploding e-cig batteries, nor did they specify a set temperature for e-liquids to prevent the release of carcinogens due to overheating.
As most pro-vaping tobacco control experts predicted, the FDA is already experiencing issues in keeping up with enforcing the regulations. As a result of their website crashing while vape companies were attempting to register their products by the December 31, 2016 deadline, the FDA has extended the registration deadline to June 30, 2017 for all vaping companies who were already manufacturing their products prior to August 8, 2016, when the regulations officially took effect.
Additionally, some other changes to the regulations have already been made, including the withdrawal of a direct final rule outlining when the FDA would be entitled to deny PMTAs. According to the FDA, a revision of the rule was made “due to some significant adverse comments received”; thus, it is quite possible we may see some other changes to the regulations within the next few years.