Investors, industry leaders, public health officials and regulatory experts attended the conference; it focussed on the trends and opportunities in the vaping market.
E-cigarette companies spoke about their focus on innovation with discussions following each presentation. The primary focus of these discussions was to address the benefits of e-cigs and potential impact of regulation.
Two panel discussions were held under the headings of “Public Health Panel – Communication with Public on Vapour’s Potential Benefits Key to Educate Consumers and Drive Adoption”, and “Regulatory Panel – Some regulation is Valuable But Too Much Will Ultimately Diminish the Industry’s Value Proposition”.
By stating, “The winning product hasn’t been invented yet,” Craig Weiss, the chief executive of NJOY has admitted that cigalikes are not the solution for companies entering the market. In fact, sales of Gen.1 devices have been declining for the last 12 months as consumers switch (as noticed by Robert West’s research) to Gen.2 & 3 devices for better satisfaction.
Clive Bates noted, “The bigger players (well, some) are grasping that it is not the same as cigarettes, and the customers think differently.” He believes that the industry is beginning to understand vapers more and is coming to terms with the notion of mods and tanks.
Njoy explained how moving into the Gen.2 sector reversed an on-going sales decline dramatically. The future for entry devices appears to be gearing up for ease of use, plug & play devices. While some manufacturers spoke of releasing cheap devices with expensive refills (akin to the printer market), the universal availability of liquid could challenge this. Legislation to prevent ‘drips’, as spoken about previously by Jeremy Mean of the MHRA, would go a long way to supporting manufacturers at the expense of consumer choice.
As reported by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), “Everyone was in agreement that e-cigarettes need to be regulated but they should not be regulated in the same way as tobacco products. Furthermore, regulators must ensure that regulation does not result in unintended consequences, most importantly, deterring addicted smokers from quitting their deadly habit.”
Joe Nocera, commenting in the New York Times, added that the conference was dismayed by the lack of acceptance from the tobacco-control community.
Saul Shiffman, an addiction expert at the University of Pittsburgh said: “Are e-cigarettes completely safe? There is not enough data to say that,” he acknowledged. But on a relative basis, electronic cigarettes are far preferable to the old-fashioned kind.”
In fact, Clive Bates made a point of attacking the tobacco-control community for their negative PR campaigns, undermining the dangers of smoking and benefits of vaping, while Michael Siegel is quoted as saying: “I believe that it is clearly the result of a strong propaganda campaign by the anti-smoking groups.”
This stands as a third key aspect of the conference for ACSH: “The public health community will play a crucial role in properly educating the public and ultimately accelerating conversion of smokers to ecigs/vapour. Data is misrepresented in the public sphere leading to many misperceptions about the safety of e-cigarettes. There was also much debate surrounding flavoured e-cigarettes.”