Thursday 24 May 2012

E-Cigs: Cottage Industry To Big Business

Snowdon reported the Lorillard purchase of US e-cig company Blu Ecigs last month, noting quite rightly that this could be a boon for the industry.
The Lorillard buy-out is good news, especially if they pump serious money into developing better products. I've said before that e-cigarettes can replicate the sensation of smoking very well but there's room for improvement when it comes to taste (at least to these lips, many thousands of people disagree). I fully expect e-cigarettes to come on leaps and bounds in the next few years unless they are suppressed by the prohibitionists.
There have, however, been fears expressed by some vapers that there is something sinister going on.

I own a fairly successful business myself, and have always thought these fears not only far-fetched, but also rather naïve, considering some of those expressing them have been loudly trumpeting e-cigs as 'the future' for quite a while now.

As Lorillard CEO Murray Kessler expresses in this fascinating and highly recommended Ecig Advanced video, why would a major listed company not want to be on board with such a hugely promising product? Or indeed, 'the future'?

His promise of placing Blu Ecigs in every retailer in the US is not so bold when coupled with the fact that, as highlighted by the ever-vigilant SteveVape, their potential has been noted by investment heavyweights UBS and Wells Fargo.

In their investor report [pdf], UBS are particularly upbeat about the massive continuing increase in sales.
(1) Since being introduced to the US from China in 2007, the e-cig category has been growing in triple-digit territory, reaching an estimated $250 mm during 2011 and is expected to double to $500 mm by the end of 2012. Looking ahead the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association expects the category to quadruple by mid 2014.
Or, if you'd prefer something more readily digestable ...

So mahoosive are the amounts of cash being discussed that it eclipses even tobacco industry sales of alternatives such as chew, snus and dissolvables. And growing at an alarming (for grinchy smoke-haters) or exciting (for vapers) rate, depending on your point of view. The sales growth is certainly not restricted to the US either, it's a western phenomenon which has even reached Peterborough!

Now, if anyone truly believes that Lorillard would buyout a fraction of that market for $135m in a futile attempt to close the industry down, David Icke probably has a spare turquoise shell suit they could borrow.

No. As I've said many times before, the popularity of e-cigs, and the loyal support they engender, has attracted extremely big players to the market. So much so that e-cigs are becoming a nicotine juggernaut which it would be irresponsible to halt, if not impossible.

Of course, even in a scenario where harm is reduced and happiness is distributed more widely, there will still be losers.

Fortunately, they will mostly come from the ranks of hysterical tobacco industry-hating dinosaurs who still live their lives in the 60s and 70s. The types who produce desperate press releases in a pathetic bid to stay in control of a world which has moved on from their obsessive prejudice; the types who would rather see hundreds of thousands die rather than allow tobacco companies to profit from harm reduction and also insist on e-cig bans; and the plainly mad.

There's also this guy.

In the current climate of inexorable e-cig growth, that tweet - which I'll admit to taking great delight in publishing on a regular basis - could become legendary.

Additionally, now that tobacco companies are increasingly moving into the business - which can arguably only enhance its profile and appeal - one wonders where that leaves passionate e-cig afficionados like the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA). In March, their representative thought it a clever move to pitch e-cigs to EU Commissioner John Dalli - who is already more than sceptical about recreational nicotine - by describing the tobacco industry as "Big Death", with some of those very same companies soon to be big hitters for e-cig promotion in attendance.

Perhaps the biggest argument yet for involvement from more professional advocates, I'd say.

All things considered, it's an interesting time for vapers. Big business weighing in with hefty financial investment looks set to transform a little-known niche product into something far more visible and part of everyday life than it is now. From cottage industry status, the electronic cigarette could be on the verge of breaking into the big time.


shelldon said...


NHS Fife bans e- cigarettes on safety grounds

Jay said...

It's a real shame that my only experience with a UK e-cig company was pretty dreadful.  I won't name the company, but they really turned me off of the idea of vaping. And so after a few purchases where they sent the wrong goods, two dead batteries in fewer than 30 days, and lackluster inattentive communication on their part, I gave up the idea and switched to snus, which is a lot more difficult to get.  Not to mention that e-cig company was openly advocating against traditional cigarettes and spreading the same propaganda as TC, which really pissed me off. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Exactly the type of thing Kessler describes in the video when he talks about bans by small authorities "because of ignorance". The idea of an e-cig setting fire to bedding is laughably dumb. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Agreed. I've had a couple of atomisers which lasted just a day, plus a dodgy battery before. Quality control is just one thing big business can bring to the e-cig market as it's true there are problems in that area. Again, Kessler covers that in the vid. 

Jock Coats said...

Equally, if you find a good, friendly supplier (I use, an Edinburgh based couple I believe, for most things vamping) I do want to keep them.  They've been good and I'm loyal to them as much as to the devices themselves.  My first attempt was terrible, but that was when things came in three bits not two and you had to replace them all at different rates and had to hold a button down like a nob-head to draw on them.  

On the other hand Chinese (I think) liquid supplier Zicchi have not got any of my pretty basic two orders right and though I would like to give more of their flavours a go I've lost confidence in them ever getting anything right or replying when it's wrong.  On the one or two occasions JAC has got something wrong, it's been dealt with absolutely promptly and with no quibble.

Here's another interesting scare-article (and comments refuting it from non-users as well as users):

Jocelyn said...

'Of particular concern is how these devices closely resemble cigarettes, in terms of appearance and nomenclature, as well as features such as flavouring and styling that are potentially highly attractive to children.
Typical Anti Rubbish!  Oh but it's 'For the Children' of course!

Jocelyn said...

A very enjoyable read!  I agree, I think it's a good thing, which would benefit both tobacco and e-cig companies.  And personally, If anyone was to 'buy out' e-cig companies, I'd rather it was Big T than Big Pharma: if it's Tobacco companies then they'd invest a lot in making e-cigs even better, and, due to all the competition - cheaper.  Whereas Big Pharma would make them more expensive and probably put all sorts of nasty additives in them.  

This is why I think that the E-Cigarette companies should NOT be trying to appeal to the Healthists to get on their side.  Although I enjoy using e-cigarettes, I think a lot of their websites and blogs have a strong 'anti smoking' tone - they should remember that their customers are smokers who are I think are, for the most part fed up with all the antismoking propaganda.  Smokers and Vapers (and 'dual-users like myself!) should unite against the prohibitionists and banmeisters - because they don't like e-cigs either -  they look too much like the real thing and can entice the chiiiiiiiiiiiiildren!

Interesting links posted here. I see the holy zealots are out in full force preaching their usual gospel of hell-fire and damnation!  The thought of anyone doing anything pleasurable fills them with such fear and dread - and jealousy because they're a bunch of miserable gits themselves!

Dolce Vita said...

Sorry,I'm sticking with the real thing
The choice is somewhat similar to one's choice of women
I prefer the real thing as opposed to inflatable dolls.
Anyway you cant use E Fags in the Taverns of the Undead,
The Innes of Despair
Goes without saying ,if E fags give pleasure, the puritans will be soon be
pestering the Westminster whimps to ban them everywhere
Oh befoer I go,did you REALLY have to mention that sump sniffing ,
thistle munching ,kilt lifting,pictish ,crofting,snichJock Bannatyne
The McSchmuck  really wants stuffing up some God forsaken,heather bound rain sodden ,mozzy infested Glen with the other po faced ,joy
dreading Calvinists and Knoxite congregations of universal misery.

Joie de Vivre 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

"they should remember that their customers are smokers"
Very true. The UBS report found that 99% of e-cig users were former smokers, and 82% still smoke (page 6). It's just that a majority of them smoke less (like me) ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ta for the recommendation, JC, certainly worth looking into. Especially if their accessories fit with the kit I use currently. 

Jock Coats said...

Don't think I've ever had a shipment that wasn't next day too.  But since I like trying out flavours, though their range is adequate and I could last on them no problem, I've just put in an order also at as they have a huge range and appear not to have the deliver problems of dealing with an overseas supplier.  Will let you know how they are.

Russell Vincent Richard Ord said...

This is all good :)

I am a smoker who uses ecigs more than I
smoke.  Once you find a 'brand' that works, it is just as good as a real
fag.  However the problems are that many of the brands that are
commonly seen (due to their massive marketing budgets) are not very good
and their claims about their performance give smokers unrealistic
expectations - which leads to disappointment.  Also some esmokers or the
hobbiest 'vapers' as they like to be known, recommend huge things that
look like shiny drug taking devices that many smokers just think that
ecigs are crap and NEVER for them in any situation.

The places I
use my ecig the most are in the car, at work and more importantly IN the
pub.  A good ecig can satisfy this smoker for hours on end if I know I
cannot smoke where I want to be.

Traditional pubs are dying on
their arse for many reasons BUT getting smokers IN and using good ecigs
whilst they are there is possibly one way to protect that endangered
species for a few years.  The tobacco companies have the power to make
that happen.

Tobacco companies also have the money and
way-with-all to ensure that the smokers experience of ecigs is better
than what they currently get from smoking tobacco cigarettes.  A few
years down the line and we may all be wondering why we even doubted the
benefits of ecigs over real fags.

Russell VR Ord
Founder of the Campaign for Vaping in Pubs

Jocelyn said...

@ Russell - what brand of e-cig do you use?  I have the 'Halo' from ECigarette Direct (Smokers Angel), which I think is pretty good as far as taste is concerned, the cartridges last a long time and the product is good value for money.  But I'm always interested in hearing recommendations from experienced vapers.  

I still smoke, only I now smoke less.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I'll hold my tongue about Liberty Flights' atomisers, IYSWIM. ;)

Not Dun Yet said...

The principles of liberty still remain
If you want a smoke free venue I will fight for your choice
If you want to enjoy an E Cig ,again, I will fight for your choice
If I wish to smoke a cigarette in a Pub,will you fight for my choice.
When a small elite clique decide the freeoms of others ,all rules of engagement,all conventions ,all decencies ,all civised conducts are abandoned,torn up.
When despots do as they wish,so be it
So shall we.

One of the "300"

vapingpoint said...

 @jack In 2009 I had a bad experience with a poor three part device like you, but in 2011 I saw something that might possibly be useful on the (then new) JACVapour site. I bought a starter kit. Never looked back! All their devices are robust and do the job. I have also bought from other vendors like cloud9vaping. These two suppliers Andy at JACVapour and Lisa at cloud9vaping are dead honest and care about their devices and customers - absent from the motive of greed. I like that. It commands my loyalty.

Russell Vincent Richard Ord said...

 Hello Jocelyn - I have used many brands of ecigs over the last 3 years.  I like the one you use and have one but I tend to go for those that do not look like real fags these days - which are not for everyone I know.

The cheapest and most discrete non-cig-looking one is called an SDK - great for using where you shouldn't really be 'smoking' as it hides in the palm of your hand.  I used mine at the hospital yesterday and no-one even knew.

If you want recommendations and are prepared to be blasted with thousands of suggestions, try one of the ecig forums - but don't blame me if it confuses you and makes you spend lots of money!