A lot happened in the space of just a month in America. We’ve seen a rash of incidents relating to vaping that the FDA is currently investigating. At time of writing there have unfortunately been 13 recorded deaths attributed to, what appear to be, counterfeit e-liquids and cartridges. Current testing is indicating one of the common ingredients causing issues is Vitamin E acetate and another is from THC dab pens. The former contributes to cases of lipoid pneumonia while the THC pens seem to contain pesticides that can oxidise into hydrogen cyanide that can severely damage the lungs.
In an already heated environment as far as vaping goes, the number of states and cities banning e-cigarettes has increased dramatically. President Trump is proposing the FDA place an outright federal ban on flavoured e-liquids and pods, if or when this will happen is currently unclear.
US advertising regulators have warned Juul over their claims that their product is safer than conventional combustible cigarettes. In the States, manufacturers have to substantiate their claims to the FDA with proof which at present Juul had not done. The vaping giant have stated they’ll cooperate fully as were given 15 days to provide evidence.
After so much contention had been raised over vaping and with Juul dominating such a large part of the US market, Juul has been more closely scrutinised than ever. Juul’s Chief Executive Kevin Burns has stepped down this month, to be replaced immediately by Altria’s K.C. Crosthwaite. Concerns have been raised about the influence of Big Tobacco being so closely allied with Juul given both their 35% stake and now a Big Tobacco company member stepping into such an influential role.
Last month, we saw Altria and Philip Morris International negotiating whether they would merge. While the two tobacco giants were a part of the same company back in 2008, there will be no merger at this point. Both brands are turning their focus to smoking alternatives and Altria are working more closely with Juul following this months vape-related issues. Juul will now remove all marketing campaigns and Altria are putting more energy into their IQOS heat-not-burn device.
British American Tobacco are cutting 2,300 jobs worldwide – mostly from middle management. While much of the company’s profit comes from cigarettes and traditional tobacco products, they’re looking to invest more and diversify into the “reduced-risk” products. These include things like vaping products but also snus (oral tobacco) and heated tobacco.
Following the deaths in the US, Public Health England have reassured vapers they’re still better off with e-cigs than conventional smoking. Given the stark difference in testing and regulation, UK vapers should vape easy. The MHRA and TPD regulations are in place to ensure the validity and quality of both e-liquids and kits sold in the UK. Those concerned can refer to the MHRA list and check for both the brand and flavour of their usual favourites.
With Brexit looming and the possibility of a no-deal exit from the EU, there’s a chance Track and Trace for tobacco products may be suspended. Originally enforced by the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive, with no deal in place the UK would need their own system for the interim. The Track and Trace system was implemented to ensure the legitimacy of products as well as to ensure they had been taxed correctly. Without proper legislation in place, the possibility of illicit products getting into the UK may increase.
Despite uncertainty surrounding TPD and issues across the pond, the UK is quitting smoking at a record success rate. The number of adult smokers dropped 2.2% from January to July 2019. Adding to this, Stoke-on-Trent City Council have cut £99,000 of funding to stop smoking services. There’s been less uptake in recent years and much of it is attributed to people using vaping to quit smoking. According to recent statistics – there are now 3.6 million vapers in the UK – equating to half as many vapers as smokers. With Stoptober just kicking off for another year and so many people using e-cigs in their quit attempt, it’s likely this trend will only continue upwards.
China are planning to put regulations in place surrounding e-cigarettes following the issues in the US. They’re the biggest manufacturer of e-cigarettes in the world and also have the highest smoking population by numbers with around 350 million smokers. It’s unclear what the regulations will be but we can expect to know more next month. They’ll likely relate to both packaging and e-liquids.
India has now placed an outright ban on e-cigarettes. Despite calls to regulate rather than ban, the Indian government is set to make them illegal. This law will apply to all levels – from importing and selling vape kits and liquids to even using one. Offenders can expect anything between a fine and jail time.