E-cigs are the latest fad, perhaps even the fastest growing in the states. The nicotine delivery devices (nicknamed Vapes) and their imprint is being felt worldwide. As governments have pushed through legislation to ban smoking from public places there's not been a huge amount of attention given the newest delivery system for nicotine users and addicts, until recently.
To call e-cigs a fad might be saying that computer tablets and cellphones are a fad. Time to wake up and smell the aromatic vapors of e-reality. The e-cig industry is integrating rapidly into the mainstream. At least the US Food and Drug administration thinks so. They're spending millions of dollars trying to bring them under their regulatory umbrella. Currently they are not classified as cigarettes. Therefore they can't be regulated or taxed at the same levels.
If you're curious about the levels of money we're talking about, consider this from Business Insider:
Miami, FL – V2 Cigs (www.v2cigs.com), the worldwide online leader in electronic cigarettes with over 1 million customers, today announced that, for the first-time, the electronic cigarette category has surpassed $1 billion in annual sales across both traditional and digital retail channels. Wells Fargo Securities also projects total 2013 retail sales to reach a record $1.7 billion by the end of the year—an increase of at least 240 percent, respectively, over the previous year’s estimated $500 million mark.
What's driving all of this business and possibly taking down the traditional tobacco industry? Some startling facts. Here's how Goldman-Sachs assesses the budding and burgeoning industry:
Goldman's Judy Hong describes e-cigarettes as basically all the good stuff about regular cigarettes but none of the bad. "Imagine a product that is possibly >99% less harmful than cigarettes, delivers a similar user experience and offers a better economic bargain—this is the proposition of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs)."
Source: Goldman Sachs
We all know that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true. So what's in this "safer" system of nicotine delivery? Here are the four ingredients in e-cigs?
First is the scary sounding propylene glycol.
Propylene glycol is considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it is used as an humectant (E1520), solvent, and preservative in food and for tobacco products, as well as being the major ingredient in the liquid used in electronic cigarettes.
This scary sounding chemical compound, what's it do? It makes foods safe to eat as well as clearing the air (pumped into some hospital ventilation systems to clean the air). It's in layman's terms, a relatively safe preservative. And it's already in cooked goods, candies and other foods that we eat. If you look at the labels on your canned goods at home, you'll probably find it there, down toward the bottom of the list.
Next on the list is vegetable glycerin. What does it do? Wikipedia source:
serves as a humectant, solvent, and sweetener, and may help preserve foods. It does not feed the bacteria that formplaques and cause dental cavities.
Third on the ingredients list for e-cigs you'll find flavorings -- yes, the smoky product can be anything from cherry, mint, chocolate, citrus, strawberry -- whatever flavors you like, they'll either have it or mix it for you. It's kind of like Ben and Jerry's -- there's something for everybody -- with some funny name associated with it. "Aunt Rosie's Raspberry" or "Rock of Ages Apple" were two I find inspired.
Finally, we come to the Nicotine. As mentioned earlier, in small doses it's a stimulant. And with controlled use, it's safer than caffein which is found most commonly in soda, coffee and chocolate.
This brings the story to the video portion of this commentary. Here's a short, but easy to understand report which DNEWS Channel presented and lays it out pretty well.
Now I've never tried an e-cig. But I have been in the company of those who use and love them. I never noticed any issues with smoke, and not unlike an aromatic pipe smoker, there was a tinge of pleasant smell in the air. It was certainly nothing noxious as second-hand cigarette smoke.
No product, even water (hyponatremia), is free from abuse and misuse. And having regulations may be necessary. Sadly, it seems 1.5 million kids grades 6 - 8 have tried e-cigs. They've Vaped.
The FDA seems to think regulations are necessary, if for no other reason than that opens the door for them to grab revenues to squeeze out of users. And they want their piece of the vape. They're looking to raise additional federal taxes and put into place federal guidelines on these PV's (personal vaporizers) and their liquid contents.
Time will tell. But if we look to Europe where trends are often set on medications and legalizations of substances, The Hill revealed that recently:
The European Parliament rejected a proposal to subject e-cigarettes to the same regulatory standards as medicines. That was seen as a major win for the e-cigarette industry, which is expected to eclipse $1.75 billion in global sales this year.
Safer than cigarettes. Legal to use in public. No second-hand, carcinogenic smoke threats. Can reduce regular cigarette addictive habits. Maybe there's something here that's going to benefit us all. It will be interesting to see as the FDA tries to move in and inhale from the vape industry.
It will be fun to see how the traditional tobacco industry reacts. Right now they're trying to buy up the smaller, emerging PV suppliers and e-cig manufacturers. They can smell the smoke in the air, and it's their traditional industry burning down. There's a battle brewing and I'm going to enjoy watching this one. Vape up, if you're so inclined.