Before I begin I'd like to state that I do not condone smoking in any form, be it tobacco or liquid based. I was a smoker for 10 years, but managed to quit in 2014 with the help of a vaporizer. Now I no longer do either. While I certainly don't believe e-cigs are "good" for human health, I do believe there's a real need for them in the market.
E-cigs have emerged as the most popular and successful method of smoking cessation. From a distance, the vaping community looks to be thriving. But, among the thick beards, tattooed arms and fruity flavoured e-liquids, there may be some degree of ignorance towards the political interference. When you look at the popularity of vaping and how it has left an indelible mark upon communities everywhere, you can see why users are seemingly oblivious to any impeding changes. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will see an industry that is repeatedly plagued by unrelenting regulators.
The latest effort to restrict the use of e-cigs was the EU's Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). Initially devised in July 2006 to deter smokers, it looked set to change the face of the industry. But then something happened which wasn't according to plan... Brexit. Although the victory for the Leave camp was narrow, Britain will inevitably leave the European Union. Therefore, it is unclear if the TPD will be implemented in the UK. As it stands, Britain is still subject to EU legislation: smaller refill containers, weakened potency, smaller tanks and cartridges.
Is it logical to assume that the vaping community were Leave voters? A study conducted by E-Cigarette Direct found that 56% of vapers were going to vote to leave before the referendum took place, compared with 38% of the general population. Overall, a vaper was considered 18% more likely to vote leave than the average voter. At first thought, this may not seem like a massive proportion of society. But there are around 2.6 million vapers in the United Kingdom. Coupled with a phenomenal turnout of 72.2% - more than the last general election - it would be foolish to disregard the influence of vapers on the final result.
Another attribute typical of the vaping community is the extreme attention to detail and nerdy, obsessive task of altering e-cig devices to reimagine the experience: the trial and error of tanks, the use of modification kits, the unquenchable thirst for fresh and exciting e-liquids, the willingness to experiment. This could all be lost. That said, there is one e-cig that's almost guaranteed to remain unaffected by the changes: the Cigalike.
By today's advanced and ever evolving standards, the Cigalike is pretty out-dated and was surpassed long ago by refillable tank systems. If British e-cig retailers and businesses wish to continue trading with EU member states, they will almost certainly have to acquiesce to the rules of the TPD. Therefore, if the changes go ahead as planned, Cigalike (or something similar) could be the only option left, which won't go well down with the community's plant-hungry hipsters.
Christopher Snowdon, a feature writer for the Spectator and a vaper himself, believes the TPD is a typically blunderous move from the EU, calling it "Misguided, ill-considered and counter-productive," in a piece in which he brands this era the golden age of vaping. He went on to say "I'm fairly sanguine about the possibility of returning to a 20-a-day habit. The growing number of venues that ban vaping -- for no good reason -- make smoking more appealing by the day." It appears as though the EU is actually pushing people towards regular tobacco, and ignoring the health benefits of e-cigs -- Public Health England (PHE) estimates that e-cig smoking is 95 percent less harmful than regular tobacco smoking. What we really need is a Brussels that will actually process the facts and not rule out e-cigs as a viable quitting method.
But it's not just Britain and the EU's vaping community that's being affected. The sustained attack against vaping is gathering pace across the pond as well. The Food and Drug Administration -- the organisation behind US e-cig legislation -- will be regulating e-cigs like a tobacco product -- the FDA's latest vision was communicated in the following 499-page document. Surprisingly, a large number of legislators fail to realise that e-cigs are not a tobacco product!
Nonetheless, there are changes to the US e-cig industry on the horizon; changes that are likely to be frantically received by members of the American vaping community. The alterations are primarily aimed at the manufacturers, i.e. all e-cig products devised from February 2007 must be recalled for scrupulous examination -- a move which some have described as potentially catastrophic for small e-cig businesses. In addition, manufacturers must also submit a pre-market review to the FDA for approval, place health warnings on product packaging and advertisements, and list the ingredients and materials.
While, of course, there should be a certain level of warnings, regulation, and testing, all this strict legislation could eventually drive people back to tobacco smoking. According to a Cornell study into US High School smoking habits, this is not only a very real possibility, but a much greater threat to human health.
In light of all these facts, would it be overly ridiculous to suggest the regulations imposed by the EU and FDA are covertly synchronised?