Vape News In Brief: March 6th, 2019 Edition
Vape News In Brief: March 6th, 2019 Edition
Welcome to Breazy Briefs, where we take a look around the globe, searching for news, science, and the occasional tasty pop culture tidbit related to vaping and the life of vapers. Today, let's talk about…
…the anti-tax conservative think tank Heartland Institute, which is speaking out against new vapor taxes being proposed in Arkansas. That much isn't surprising, but the fact that the Institute isn't also vociferously opposing complementary taxes on combustible tobacco products is a bit of an eye-raiser. Not only that, they've apparently launched a podcast in support of vaping. The timing is interesting, as the group has in the past received major funding from Philip Morris, whose American spinoff Altria recently made a heavy investment in the Juul cigalike.
Five Seconds of Celebrity: Musicians Adele and Drake, both of whom we're told are quite popular, spent an evening out in Studio City (almost Los Angeles) by renting out an entire bowling alley before stopping by a vape lounge to pick up Juul cartridges. Favorite flavors are reported to have included mango and peach, though who picked which (and where a peach-flavored Juul pod even came from) were not among the disclosed details.
Despite posting a $70 million loss in the last quarter of 2018 tied to a 2.5 percent decline in sales, Juul is expecting revenues to nearly triple in 2019. Even though the cigalike giant voluntarily pulled its flavored refill pods out of US stores last year, internet sales and expansion into foreign markets have the company projecting a net income of $3.4 Billion-with-a-B for calendar year 2019.
Culture: vaping in your wedding photos is now apparently a thing. The New York Post is appalled by couples celebrating a practice that, according to doctors, could give newlyweds considerably longer lives with which to enjoy one another's company compared to smoking. Your humble blog editor and his beautiful vaping bride would no doubt have embraced the idea had vaping been around a decade sooner.
It's (almost) official: FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has reportedly sent a plan to ban flavored e-liquid sales to the White House for review. If the reports we're hearing are correct, the final plan is essentially the same as what Gottlieb floated several months ago. In order to sell e-liquid in varieties other than menthol or tobacco in a brick-and-mortar retail location, retailers would be required to check the ID of anyone visiting the store, denying entry to minors. Such a policy is already considered a best practice and is in place at most vape-specific retail locations, but for a gas station or convenience store to continue selling e-liquid they'd need to build a separate room where vapor products are displayed, only granting access to adults with identification. While it's a blow for consumers of closed-pod systems like Juul (who has already voluntarily moved all of their flavored pod sales online), most serious vapers are already buying their gear online or in dedicated vape shops, so the immediate impact of the change will be minimal.
In more Juul news (there's always more), the company is suing four more companies for infringing on its trademarks. One even tried to trademark the name "Juul Monster" and an image of a fuzzy green cartoon character puffing on a Juul. While this is a terrible look in terms of potential underage marketing allegations, we're wondering if any of the defendants will argue that the term "juul" has become generic to the point where it's simply a synonym for "vape." It's hard to imagine any other way they could attempt to justify the wholesale theft of another company's name.
A petition circulating in Europe is asking for the EU to acknowledge that vaping isn't smoking and that the practice requires its own set of rules and regulations that protect the public while acknowledging the harm reduction role vaping plays in getting people to switch from cigarettes. That's good news. The petition is being bankrolled by Big Tobacco in an effort to gain traction for mass-market cigalikes being pushed by cigarette companies. That's not so good, and it's causing detractors to question the legitimacy of the entire citizen initiative process.
As the state of New York looks to follow in the footsteps of local municipalities like San Francisco in pursuing a complete flavor ban on e-liquids, vape shop owners across the state worry they and their employees may soon be unemployed. "They smell good, they taste good" argues Broome County Tobacco Control Educator Sharon Fischer, advocating for the ban while admitting it likely won't stop underage vaping on its own. "Banning flavors will definitely be a step in the right direction." Meanwhile, New York vapers are fighting back, rallying in opposition to the ban that recently passed a state senate committee hearing. We'll be watching this for more, as it's the largest comprehensive ban currently being proposed outside of California.
Science: a new study out of the University of Minnesota takes an interesting look at how college-aged young adults perceive vaping. Among the findings, they believe that occasional use of e-cigarettes is more acceptable and less risky than everyday use (probably true, but still not a good idea), that their parents wouldn't approve of vaping but would be even more upset to find out their children were smoking (also probably true), and that while nicotine is addictive students believe they can control whether or not they become addicted to the drug (strong start, horrible finish). Remember, if you're not an adult smoker, you shouldn't vape. If you're an adult non-smoker who insists on vaping (don't do this), please don't vape liquids containing nicotine.
Horrible headlines: according to this site a new study "says e-cigarettes are not safe for the lungs." Read the article, however, and you'll find an unsupported lede claiming vaping has been tied to "acid reflux, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and even heart failure." Dig deeper and the truth comes out: two-thirds of the vapers included in the study were actually dual users (smokers who also vape), that the study relies only on whether the "vapers" recalled shortness of breath after vaping, and the kicker: "Scientists also stressed that they didn’t find any evidence related to vape use and breathing difficulties, however, the study aimed to establish a link between the two." Translation: "A study that sought to prove vaping specifically is associated with breathing difficulties failed to prove its hypothesis." There's good science out there that doesn't always paint vapor products in a flattering light, and when there's reason to express concern we strive to share that here. Likewise, if there's blatant scaremongering going on using questionable techniques, we'll call 'em as we see 'em.
Thailand is using a novel technique to fight back against draconian anti-vaping laws that could send you to jail for even being in possession of a vapor product. Thai vapers are appealing to the nation's tourism industry, noting the round of bad publicity following the jailing of a French woman recently spotted in Phuket not vaping but simply holding an e-cigarette. If you've been lusting after a Thai getaway but you're not willing to risk jail time or reverting to smoking (which is perfectly legal) to do so, perhaps someday soon you'll be in luck.
Reynolds American, whom you may recognize as the folks who brought you Joe Camel, is rolling out a series of new television ads for the Vuse cigalike, set to air on CNN, The History Channel, and AMC. The company says its goal is to convert adult smokers to vaping (and perhaps to get in a round of ad buys before the FCC updates its anti-cigarette stance to include vapor products), and that it'll prevent underage use of the product by limiting its online customers' purchases to no more than one vape a month and $80 worth of refills a week. If you're buying a new vapor device every month (and the same one every time), or spending anywhere close to $80 a week on e-liquid, we regret to inform you that you're clearly doing it wrong.
In case the New York flavor ban didn't hit home for you, a US congresswoman wants to ban them nationwide, and she says she's preparing to introduce a bill that would do just that. "To me, there is no legitimate reason to sell any product with names such as cotton candy or tutti fruitti, unless you are trying to market it to children," opined Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado this week. We'll just leave this and this (and this) here for context.
We'll leave you with this college op-ed on "the right way" to vape. Do it to quit smoking. Do it to reduce your nicotine consumption. Don't do it to be cool. Don't do it around people who don't want to be around it.
See y'all next go-round…