E Cigarettes are Here to Stay

An article in the convenience store e-publication, Convenience Store Decisions has come to the conclusion that e-cigarettes, in spite of laws threatening to ban and tax them to oblivion are here to stay.

Quoting Thomas Kilas of the organization Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, the publication noted how strong sales have been (2.5 million sold in 2011 over 750,000 in 2010) and how they are expected to increase fourfold going forward into 2013 and 2014.

The article further indicated that sales analysis has recorded sales of flavor cartridges for e-cigs and disposables at 20 million sold weekly for the former, and approximately 10 million of the latter in the U.S. alone.

According to marketing research, the two sales segments involve two separate markets for the electronic devices. Rechargeable devices such as the Green Smoke and V2 cigs sell most strongly in tobacco stores or dedicated e-cig retailers where the customer has time and opportunity to learn more about the products and their use. Not unsurprisingly, disposables sell mainly in convenience stores and gas stations where on-the-go people routinely impulse buy as they pay for gas or shop for other items and the disposable aspect most strongly appeals.

The only drag on sales foreseen is that the FDA, which currently views e-cigs as tobacco products with little to no regulation, may shift gears and decide to become more heavily involved in the taxation and regulation of e-cigarettes and associated accessories and products.

Thomas Kilas noted that the industry is more than willing to be taxed and licensed, but that the taxation should be keyed to the harm the product does. He believes that analog tobacco products with a proven history of health impacts including cancer and emphysema should be taxed at a higher rate than e-cigs which use a nicotine solution suspended in a flavored liquid and which emit few of the over 4000 carcinogens and toxins that traditional cigarettes do.

States like Hawaii, which recently lost its bid to tax e-cigs like tobacco at 70% of unit price, and Utah which has pushed through a bill to ban the use of both e-cigs and hookahs in all public places, (including bars dedicated to their use) also complicate the picture in the U.S.

The recent “exploding e-cig” incident in Florida has also clouded the issues, leading to unfounded fears for e-cigarette safety. Experts like Kilas note that out of billions of e-cigs vaped since their introduction approximately eight years ago, this is the first known incident of its kind and involved a tampered with battery and caution taking a wait and see attitude about safety issues. Modifying a battery is a bit like strapping a rocket to your back and attempting to fly—common sense is that you put nothing in your mouth that you aren’t qualified to have attempted to rewire to begin with.

Overall, however, the picture is seen as increasingly bright for e-cigarette sales, and the upward trend is expected to continue as more is known about the devices and as anecdotal evidence continues to spread about the effectiveness of the devices in offering a satisfying alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

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