It was just a couple of years ago that the vaping industry in the UK was looking at a potential disaster thanks to EU regulations that appeared to threaten the existence of vaping itself. What a difference a few years makes. We are now more optimistic than ever about vaping as the pre-eminent smoking alternative in the UK. In light of that, we are happy to report that the industry has two new reasons to be even more optimistic.
First is a shocking announcement from Philip Morris that they may eventually stop producing conventional cigarettes if a new, less harmful product actually takes off. Second is a move within the US Congress to convince the Obama administration to forgo enforcement of draconian FDA restrictions with the understanding that the new administration will probably repeal them anyway.
In the following paragraphs, we will dissect both developments for a better understanding of why they are cause for optimism. We want to remind our readers that sometimes silver linings are found in clouds that look rather dark. What we are about to explain here really is good news for the UK vaping industry even though it may be hard to recognise at first glance.
The Philip Morris Announcement
The BBC reported on 30 November (2016) that Philip Morris has finally launched a less harmful, smokeless cigarette in the UK. This cigarette still utilises tobacco, but there is no combustion involved. Rather, tobacco is gently heated to release nicotine without producing the same volume of toxic chemicals. Philip Morris claims that their new product is up to 90% less toxic than the conventional cigarettes it is designed to replace.
The tobacco giant went on to say that internal trials indicate that their new product is likely to cause less harm than combustible tobacco. Philip Morris chief executive Andre Calantzopoulos told the BBC that he would like to work with various governments to begin the process of eliminating conventional cigarettes. We must assume his comments are based on the presumed success of the company’s new smokeless product.
So, how is this good for the vaping industry? First, it legitimises the concept of harm reduction for smokers. Harm reduction has been at the centre of the vaping industry since electronic cigarettes first made it to Europe nearly a decade ago. It will be extremely hard for the critics to rail against harm reduction should Philip Morris go through with plans to eliminate conventional tobacco.
Second, the phasing out of combustible tobacco would inevitably encourage more smokers to give vaping a try. We firmly believe that vaping would compete very well against smokeless tobacco if the technologies were compared side-by-side.
US Government Action
Moving on to the developments in the US, they are great news for an American vaping industry now operating in abject fear of the FDA. The FDA published deeming regulations early in 2016 that, if left unchanged, could very seriously jeopardise the vaping industry across the Pond.
For example, the regulations require the vaping industry to prove that their products are substantially equivalent to tobacco products in order to remain on the market. The logic behind this is based on the false belief that e-cigarettes are tobacco products because some liquids contain nicotine.
The problem is that e-cigarette manufacturers cannot prove their products are substantially equivalent because they are not. E-cigarettes are not even in the same league as their tobacco counterparts – they don’t contain tobacco, and they do not involve combustion. This one regulation alone threatens to put American e-cigarette manufacturers out of business in short order.
With the election of Donald Trump as president, there is a real possibility that the FDA’s deeming regulations will be scrapped early in 2017. President-elect Trump has already committed to undoing a lot of the regulations put in place by the Obama administration so as to free up American businesses to better pursue enterprise.
In anticipation of that, some members of the US Congress are now asking President Obama to direct the FDA to halt enforcement of the new regulations immediately. They say there is no point in putting e-cigarette companies through the process of trying to meet regulatory requirements if those requirements are going to vanish in just a few months.
How this helps the vaping industry on both sides of the Atlantic should be obvious. Scrapping the FDA regulations obviously allows the vaping industry in America to continue unfettered. That will result in a stronger worldwide market that can only be good for the UK industry as well.
The Battle Is Not Over
Those of us involved in the vaping industry should be thrilled with the latest developments at Philip Morris and in the US Congress. The battle is by no means over, but we are getting closer to victory every day. As the truth comes out and rational heads prevail, the world is coming to the realisation that vaping technology has put the elimination of tobacco cigarettes within our grasp.
If all the interested stakeholders can get together to find the kind of common ground that will allow the vaping industry to move forward, we could very well see an end to smoking within the next couple of decades – without having to resort to coercion, manipulation, or punitive taxation. And we don’t think anyone could argue that reaching such a lofty goal would be an exceptionally positive achievement.