The Rocky Road Ahead of The Electronic Cigarette Industry
As the months go by, we are getting closer and closer to an eventual regulation and oversight by some government body. Almost daily there is a new piece to this puzzle that hits the news—some good for the industry, and some bad.
All through the months of November and December, lobbyists from the electronic cigarette industry flooded through the White House lobbying in support of electronic cigarettes. More than 35 organizations visited the white house in the two-month period, from electronic cigarette companies to lawyers and physicians. Their goal: to prevent imposition of unnecessarily strict rules restricting electronic cigarette sales in a variety of fashions.
Another great piece of news is that the head of the FDA’s Tobacco Division, Mitch Zeller, said that he believes that “people smoke for the nicotine, and die from the tar.” Given the fact that e-liquid contains no tar, this is a good sign. Zeller further stated that: "I'm not saying nicotine is benign, but when compared to the risk associated with regular tobacco, it pales." This is potentially wonderful news, as it gives us a hint that the FDA may be a bit more lenient on electronic cigarettes than what has been feared.
Moreover, Diane Canova, the vice president of government affairs at the American Legacy Foundation, which is extremely anti-tobacco, stated: "it's not just a matter of a blanket dropping in of the current regulations over additional products . . . Some of the current restrictions may not fit." This is very positive news in favor of the electronic cigarette industry.
An analyst at Citigroup, Vivian Azer, was recently quoted as predicting that future proposals of electronic cigarette regulation will include a ban of all internet sales, due to the fact that it is very difficult to verify the age of the purchaser. However, one potential solution to this may be for all packages to require a signature by an adult 18-years of age or older.
Cynthia Cabrera, the executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), argued that restricting Internet sales would be "devastating to the companies that have built successful businesses online."
Additionally, many speculate that one of the other likely restrictions will be flavoring of e-liquid that may appeal to children. Dessert flavors, fruit flavors, candy flavors, drink flavors, etc. are almost certain to be banned, some claim. The basis of their claims is that the FDA has banned flavored cigarettes for many years now.
With so much attention now on the electronic cigarette industry, heated debates from both sides of the spectrum are likely to ensue. However, one thing is for sure: regulations and restrictions are coming—it's just a matter of time. Our hope is that they will be reasonable, and won’t kill one of the most innovative and high-growth areas of the American economy today.