The US vaping scare has meant that the second half of 2019 has been turbulent for the vaping industry. At the time of writing this post, approximately 50 deaths have been linked to vaping. In addition to this, nearly 2,500 people have reported e-cigarette related illnesses. All the cases are based in the US, with 48 states affected. The outbreak is largely among young men. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 70% of those affected are male with the average age being 24. Almost half of those affected are under 21.
What We Now Know
A paper released by the New England Journal of Medicine on December 20th has concluded that the outbreak of vaping related illness was likely caused by people using vitamin E acetate in their e-cigarettes.
Vitamin E acetate is often used as a thickening agent in e-liquids that contact tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound found in marijuana that produces the high.
The study showed that 94% of fluid samples taken from individuals who developed breathing problems after e-cigarette usage contained vitamin E acetate. Samples that were taken from e-cigarette users who had not used THC came back free of vitamin E acetate.
The experts behind the paper concluded that vaping was not to blame for the recent wave of illnesses that caused the US vaping scare.
The Impact on the Vaping Market
The media attention around vaping is largely negative. If vaping is thought to be causing deaths, then it’s like throwing a match in a petrol tank. Although some news organisations were responsible in their reporting, for many, it was a chance for sensationalist headlines.
This negative attention does hit home, in particular with new vapers or those considering switching from traditional cigarettes.
The US market has seen vape shops closing down across the country. Reports from US vape manufacturers claim that sales have fallen by as much as 80% in the wake of the scare.
Although not as seriously affected, the UK market has also been impacted. Vape shops are reporting drops in sales of between 15% to 40%, with those caterting for new vapers suffering the biggest falls.
One of the most worrying statistics is the fall in sales of starter kits reported by IBVTA members.
IBVTA Chief Executive, Gillian Golden said, ‘’Some of our members are reporting a drop in sales of ‘starter kits’ of between 30 and 60%. Starter kits are typically the devices a smoker purchases in order to switch to vaping, and this downturn is a clear indication that the misleading messages on vaping are adversely affecting perceptions among smokers about their safety.”
Vaping in 2020 and Beyond
The US vaping scare has obviously dented both industry and consumer confidence. The US vaping market is by far the hardest hit, but the industry worldwide has taken a big knock.
ECig Intelligence had been predicting the UK market would grow by 17% in 2020. In the wake of the scare, this has been revised to 10%. Worldwide the market had been forecast to grow by 20%; this has now been dropped down to 5%.
Although vaping has taken a hit, it still has a bright future. More and more studies are being released than contain positive vaping news and the number of individuals switching is still rising year on year.
Here’s hoping that 2020 starts better than 2019 finished for vaping and that more people can find the positive health benefits it offers over smoking.