War on Vapor

As you might have noticed, there are quite some big changes coming to the vaping industry in the United States. The ball started rolling when there was this outbreak of illnesses and deaths which were attributed to “vaping”. Next came the announcement from the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, that she would implement a ban on all flavored e-liquid in the entire state. This would be unprecedented, where an entire state would remove 99% of the product of an industry. But then we got some big news from the President. 

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In this small interview at the White House, Trump states “…but people are dying, with vaping. So we’re looking at it very closely”. What ensued was a proposal to ban all flavored e-liquid throughout the nation.Right after, Andrew Cuomo proposed a ban on all flavored e-liquids in the entire state of New York. This of course would be devastating to the hundreds of thousands who work either directly, or indirectly with the vaping industry. 

How we got here, the events or decisions that led up to this moment, none of that really matters to me. The fact that we are here, is something we need to deal with, and deal with immediately. In terms of what the industry is doing to combat all this, many expect to see litigation. I also expect to see some companies disregarding the news completely, and continuing to do what they’re doing now. I expect to see the vaping community advocate, and influencers use their reach to put out calls to action. And I expect to see many other countries take note, and either follow the US’s lead, or follow the UK’s lead, which is simply, the opposite. 

The Transfer

With the recent news and events, this is leading many of the mainstream hobbyist vapor market, look towards DIY as somewhat a “safe haven”. In terms of regulations, I don’t see much movement on the DIY side. Most of the ingredients are easily and readily available for anyone to purchase. This means, technically, flavored vapor will never be stamped out. 
The biggest concern is unflavored nicotine base. Does the FDA or the CTP have the ability to ban the sale of nic-base to consumers? Well, they have the ability to ban any “tobacco product” they deem appropriate because of the Tobacco Control Act. Though, if they can ban unflavored nicotine base, they might as well just ban vaping. Myself, I’m making sure my supply lasts quite a while. 

Unfortunately, this leaves the hundreds of thousands, even millions of vapers who do not have the time to learn, or don’t have the know-how, or don’t have the space, or a number of reasons why they can’t mix – many of these vapers will most likely end up back in smoking. 1 out of every 5 of them will die a preventable death, due to a directly related smoking disease. Truly a failure of the American “For-Profit” Health System. 

This also only applies to nicotine-laden products. I had a talk recently with Brendan Woodward of Flavorah where we discussed that flavors, and not the nicotine, is the more important aspect of harm reduction. Thus, thousands use these vapor devices only with flavorings. And with that said, flavored non-nic vaping should always remain. 

So are there some contingencies put in place should a drastic flavor ban hit the US? Sure. Unfortunately, the damage will be massive & overall a net-negative for public health. Only the smallest percent of vapers will continue to mix their own e-liquid. 

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What to Expect

Do-it-yourself mixing has always been a more creative, frugal, and health-oriented endeavor. Many enjoy the cessation vaping gives them, but may not particularly enjoy the types of super sweet, super fruity/candied, super obnoxious e-liquid that’s on the market. These people normally end up in DIY because they can remove themselves from the insane amount of sucralose, the immature packaging, the lack of innovation in flavor, & the high prices

But now I expect to see a surge of mixers who may not exactly have those same types of ideals. This means new mixers might expect to see a vibrant, loud, and flashy community – which I’d argue the DIY community is not. Whether this in turn compels them to continue, or dissuade or disinterest them, remains to be seen.

This is something I look forward to seeing. As someone who wasn’t the biggest fan of some of the packaging and aesthetic that some vape companies adopted, I would love to see the hobbyist vapor move back to an industry focused on flavor, creativity, innovation, and health.  At the end of the day, I enjoy the more creative aspects of vaping. I love to see when someone figures out a very interesting way to mix certain flavors together, birthing something different entirely. I also think this will encourage new mixers to stick around.

Have Hope

Lastly, I want to remind you to have hope. This industry boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry in such a short amount of time, thanks to all its innovative and ingenious members. I have no doubt the vaping industry will find a solution to this overreach of government. We are a crafty and clever group, who have found a way to create one of the most important devices in medical history. The special interest groups from Tobacco and Pharma will stop at nothing to try and abolish this disruptive new technology. But I believe when the science and data comes out, all those who initially opposed, will find themselves on the wrong side of history. 

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