It’s been a big year across the board for vaping and December was no different. 2018 wrapped up with even more studies surrounding the safety of vaping, a 35% share deal for a vaping giant and potential legislative changes. All up, it looks like the vaping industry is showing no signs of slowing down for 2019.
The big news for the end of 2018 which was a world-wide trend is that Big Tobacco have taken a £100bn pound hit in the pocket. This is thanks to stricter smoking legislation and the increased popularity of vaping. The most heavily affected was British American Tobacco who lost around half their stock worth. Other tobacco giants like Altria and Philip Morris dropped around 30%.
Public Health England have reinforced their stance that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. The motivation behind this stems from the numerous studies published by the media which often hold contrary or conflicting messages. One week, they claim vaping is safe, the next it’s as bad as smoking. Consumers who smoke may be less inclined to try vaping meaning they continue with a smoking habit instead. Professor John Newton, Director of Health for PHE stated:
“We need to reassure smokers that switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking. This demonstration highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk.”
Adding to this, a recent study has found that vaping helps ex-smokers to resist a full relapse back into smoking if they have a cigarette. The study surveyed 40 vapers and asked about their vaping use, any lapses back into smoking and how easy they were to resist. Many found that having one or two cigarettes was less likely to result in a full relapse back into smoking and that they enjoyed the practice of vaping more. It also resulted in less people feeling as though they’d “failed” because vaping was still there as a viable means to avoid smoking again.
A deal had been in the pipeline for a while and it’s now been announced that Altria have bought a 35% share in Juul for the sum of $12.8bn. There’s been plenty of contention over the deal with both positives and negatives being raised. Many consider this to be a bit of a sell out, however it also increases the reach of Juul to get to more current smokers. Juul will now be able to use all of Altria’s sales channels and inserts for Juul will be placed in cigarette packets. The conditions of the deal were that Altria didn’t increase their reach into any other vapour products and would work exclusively with Juul for at least a six year period.
After a year of vaping flavour bans in numerous Californian cities, California are now considering a state-wide flavour ban. Currently, 26 cities have banned flavoured “tobacco products” which include e-liquids for vapes. The main motivation stems from reducing the amount of youth vaping, with their logic being that flavoured products encourage a new generation of nicotine users. Unfortunately this potential legislative change would apply to any and all stores, vending machines and online shops selling vaping products. Those caught still selling flavoured products would be liable to pay hefty fines ranging from $400 to $6,000 depending on the number of offences.
Unlike the States, both New Zealand and Australia are starting to take a more liberal approach to vaping. Following in the UK’s footsteps, they’re considering the relative safety of vaping compared to smoking and the stagnating numbers of smokers in their countries.
Australia has launched the Switch2vaping campaign in an attempt to help decrease the number of smokers. Statistics show there was a less than 1% decrease in adult smokers in a three year period sitting at 15.2% for 2017 – 2018 and 16% when the population was surveyed 2014-2015.
While vaping is still heavily regulated in Australia the campaign was started to increase awareness and educate adult smokers who can’t or won’t quit what their options are. Currently, smokers can get a prescription for nicotine products through a doctor.
Colin Mendelsohn, Chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association said: “Vaping is the most popular quitting aid in the United Kingdom, United States and European Union and has helped millions of smokers quit. This option should also be available for Australian smokers”
In New Zealand, similar moves are occurring. Despite last months news which saw both New Zealand classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, they’re considering changing the way they can be accessed by smokers. 2019 will give the public the option to voice their opinions on vaping and current legislation. Health Minister Jenny Salesa commented:
“We are supporting New Zealanders to be healthier by helping smokers switch to safer products, and at the same time protecting people who don’t smoke, especially young people.”
Their main concern is offering a safe quitting option that encourages long term smokers to switch whilst also keeping future generations away from smoking. A special focus was placed on the fact that many lower income areas had the highest rates of smoking, which, in New Zealand is heavily taxed and an expensive habit to maintain.