Vaping News

2015 - The Golden Age of Vaping

That was a year that was. More mods, more juice, more studies and then there is the legislation.

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We have just lived through an explosion in vaping. 2015 saw more vapers, more juices, more mods, more atomisers and more companies than ever before. Never has vaping been more popular - but the clouds gathered and politicians conspired to see how they could make it work for them. What began in trepidation and success ended with huge fears for the future.

Investors wondered whether Big Tobacco would carry out aggressive purchasing of Gen 2/3 mod companies in order to shoehorn them into the fastest growing section of the market, but it didn’t happen. Time demonstrated that they saw their future residing only in the cigalike sector. Instead, indicators began to point that they welcomed the legislative sounds being made as they stood to benefit from it forcing out the competition. Of course, Big T did not stop there. Another way of crushing the opposition is to use your multi-million pound legal teams to intimidate – as Stealthvape found out first hand. The tobacco industry is not prepared to sit back and watch a decline in sales without using every dirty trick in their playbook. British American Tobacco were exposed for some of their dirty dealings and Blu were exposed as selling products branded with fake safety markings.

The themes of claims and counter-claims in the media continued throughout the year; as soon as one pro-vaping study was released one coming out against it would swiftly follow. One minute the press were singing the praises of electronic cigarettes but the next article would be one warning the world of some perceived danger.

Despite a positive study being released confirming the beneficial potential of nicotine, the press (with The Daily Mirror at the vanguard) began as they’d finished off the year by trotting out lies and scare stories instead of balanced and fair coverage. To compound the problems for the vaping industry, Pharma-funded “research” took off – aiming to prove the danger of vaping at every turn. The National Jewish Health’s (NJH) attempt at discrediting eliquid was so bad it was more PR campaign and glossy leaflets than scientific study.

The NJH were joined in their nonsense by a well-funded pack of lies from the San Francisco Public Health Department who told everyone: “e-cigarettes are harmful just like the traditional ones.” The author Steve Forbes commented that he believed it was vapers appearing to enjoy vaping that lay at the root of the matter: “To them smokers must suffer for their sinning; giving up sin should be painful!” California followed up San Fran’s stupidity with an outrageous campaign of lies, half-truths, vitriol and misinformation.

And so the year’s bans began. Hot on the heels of the Federal Aviation Authority’s announcement of restrictions, Ryanair banned vaping – but announced the sale of a cigalike brand on its inflight carts, products that tasted like “glue” according to!

Bans continued at home and abroad. Derby County Football Club instituted one even though they recently celebrated a sponsorship deal with a cigalike company and gave away samples at matches. Train companies lined up behind each other to stop clouds appearing in carriages or platforms. None of the bans could be backed up with evidence that they were being done in the interests of health. All of them were based on fear of making a brave decision to embrace a new technology. Nottingham even went as far as to ban employees from vaping on their way to and from work! Without the government and NHS taking a firm lead on the matter, companies and councils hedged their bets and hid behind the scare stories emanating from California.

How could they be? While the beginning of the year welcomed the Smoking Toolkit Study demonstrating the efficacy of vaping, August saw the release of the Public Health England report screaming its relative safety. “E-cigarettes really do help smokers give up the demon weed,” said the Economist in 2014 – now there was concrete evidence. In the face of such overwhelming support for ecigs only a fool could ignore it and press on towards a de facto ban. Only the ignorant or the corrupt could implement legislation that would see the death of most of the European electronic cigarette industry.

But legislate they did.

Totally Wicked set up their Legal Challenge website and, for a while, optimism returned. As news drifted out regarding the corrupt science underpinning the original Tobacco Products Directive everyone hoped that there would be some sense applied to Article 20. Arguments were put to government ministers outlying the impact it would have on eliquid producers and ecig vendors – powerful presentations that carried conviction backed by logic and evidence. We saw how ignorant policies had crippled the industry in countries like Italy.

But vested interests were waging a campaign of war on tobacco companies – and saw vaping as part of that. Wales, as a case in point, sought to ban vaping from all public areas. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Mark Drakeford quartet stuck their fingers in their ears and pushed forward. And then slipped and fell on their backsides.

Drakeford repeated the fears we’ve had thrown at us all year: a non-existent gateway effect, flavours and names luring in children, formaldehyde and micro-particles. We’ve seen testing on mice and agar jelly that displayed no understanding of how vapers vape or how vape compares to smoke. Except for those that showed vaping is better than smoking – but since when did that make good copy?

Travis Nummerdor made good content for media articles. America loves their soldiers – and here was one who allegedly blew a chunk out of his face with an ecig. 2015 witnessed many more of these incidents as vapers stuck the hugely popular sub-ohm tanks onto hybrid mech mods and live to rue the decision.

The industry was awash with such devices now. The year saw every more powerful regulated box mods, cheaper authentics, a flood of drippers and mini-RDAs. The range of products now available to buy has reached bewildering proportions – to the extent that Svoëmesto’s warning over its trademark seems light-years away.

Vape events in London, Birmingham and Yorkshire joined the annual Vapefest as opportunities for UK vapers to meet each other and spend money their partners didn’t know they had. Social media platforms creaked at the seams with new juice vendors all desperate to get in on the action. Stores opened up across the country, vape cafes and tea bars offered a new way to socialise.

Vapefest opened its arms to vape advocates and Vapers In Power (ViP) held talks. But, like with the anti-TPD demonstrations, support for campaigning organisations has faltered. Whether it be a case of weariness or willing ignorance, the 2.6 million UK vapers failed to throw their weight behind the many calls to action. While social media powered a new incumbent into the leadership of the Labour party it has misfired and failed to inspire ecig users.

It is a shame as the argument is still there to be won. Prisons have adopted Ecig trials, the NHS has accepted the role they can play, vapers are now welcome on the grounds of some Scottish hospitals, mental health wards have embraced the opportunity afforded by the technology and Wales failed to implement its ban. The independent experts working with ViP and the New Nicotine Alliance can only succeed if we put our weight behind them – and yet the 100K campaign still only has 4932 signatures. There’s a New Year resolution for you right there – sign it.

There are ears willing to hear if enough of us shout loud enough - not even MPs respected a ban on their vaping at the Houses of Parliament. While the designated vape area languish unused, Mark Pawsey MP pressed (possibly ex-smoker) David Cameron to support electronic cigarettes. "I think we do need to be guided by the experts,” Cameron said. “We should look at the report from Public Health England but it is promising the see that over all, one million people are estimated to have used e-cigarettes to help them quite or have replaced smoking with e-cigarettes completely.”

And those experts really need our support.

The year finished with the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union declaring that the Totally Wicked case, in her opinion, failed to demonstrate the unfairness in Article 20. The draft proposals for the UK were leaked on the Planet of the Vapes news section and the impact is going to be severe.

2015 was, without doubt, the greatest year in vaping for liquids, mods and attys. How next year develops will be firmly in your hands; we can accept what is going to be done to us or we can protest. Fight on or fall by the wayside, the choice is going to be yours.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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