Before we talk about electronic cigarettes, let’s talk about the prohibition of alcohol in the United States.
On January 17, 1920, just after midnight, people in full dress began to sing and dance. On the dance floor, people wriggled excitedly. But strangely enough, it’s hard to find the old toasting at such a grand dance.
This is a scene from Empire of the Atlantic. This American drama depicts the American society in 1920s under the background of prohibition. It seems that prohibition is good enough not only to avoid the domestic violence caused by men’s drinking, but also to subsidize their families with the money to buy alcohol.
However, after the ban was issued, the black market of private alcohol was rampant, and the social crime rate in the United States rose sharply. The cost of the government’s investment in maintaining stability has skyrocketed, and the financial and tax revenue has lost a lot. In the end, the ban was repealed in 1933, which became a thought-provoking case in history.
If the demand is real, one size fits all will only let the supply to meet these needs go underground. And this is happening again on this continent of America.
The latest data in the United States shows that illegal electronic cigarette products containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have caused more than 2000 people to fall ill and be hospitalized, while regular nicotine electronic cigarettes have been mistakenly killed. San Francisco, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and other places in the United States have successively promulgated regulations on banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, but local regulations have begun to eliminate all e-cigarette stores, and hundreds of thousands of people are facing unemployment.
Just like the prohibition of alcohol in those days, the domestic e-cigarette market in the United States has been greatly disrupted. But on the other side of the ocean, it’s a different story.
On November 1, the State Administration of market supervision and administration and the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration jointly issued a notice that the online sale of e-cigarettes would be prohibited, and defined as “the supplement of traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes”, and the e-cigarettes declared “power failure”.
At present, the penetration rate of e-cigarettes in China is only 1%, far lower than that in the United States, which is more than 13%. The announcement of the two ministries clearly cannot be confused with the US ban. On the contrary, it is more like avoiding the “tragedy of prohibition” and moving towards the beginning of positive guidance.
After the announcement, a large number of domestic e-cigarette brands responded quickly, and expressed their strong support and implementation of the decision to ban the sale of e-cigarettes on the Internet. E-cigarette enterprises such as RELX quickly took their own e-commerce offline, and the third-party e-commerce platforms were also off the shelves.
An industry, two situations. On the one hand, the sword of Damocles, which has been hanging over the head for many years, has fallen, and on the other hand, it is actively conducting positive guidance. Will the differences between China and the United States lead to different industrial development directions?
01 electronic cigarettes out of control in the United States
In fact, today’s electronic cigarette storm in the United States has been shrouded in fog.
First of all, what is the lung disease patients smoking? Is it electronic cigarette?
As of November 7, 2051 cases of e-cigarette related diseases have been found in 49 states. But so far, none of the cases has been confirmed to be related to legal nicotine electronic cigarette products.
Recently, the latest statement issued by CDC and FDA has made it clear that “illegal electronic cigarette products containing THC play a role in harm cases.”
New York University Professor David Abram also told CBS recently.
“All the evidence shows that the cannabis oil used by more than 500 patients with lung disease is illicitly manufactured, belongs to street drugs, and has nothing to do with the electronic cigarettes sold through legal channels.”
THC, one of the key components of cannabinoids, is easily soluble in most organic solvents, especially lipids. Vitamin E is added to the oil. However, when vitamin E is inhaled into the lungs, it will cool down and turn into lipids, which will lead to lipoid pneumonia. Almost all patients in the United States suffer from this disease.
Legal e-cigarettes do not add THC to e-liquid, only open refillable products can do it. Instead of vaping, people with lung disease smoke marijuana with the tools of electronic cigarettes.
According to John Britton, a professor and respiratory medical consultant at the University of Nottingham and director of the UK tobacco and alcohol research center, cases or unique phenomena of lung disease in the United States are rare in the UK and other regions where there is no illegal addition of products, Reuters reported on October 14.
In the face of different state policies on cannabis control, it is obvious that cutting off e-cigarettes is not a cure.
Second, what do teenagers smoke? Is it electronic smoke?
Earlier this year, a survey conducted by the National Institute of drug abuse showed that over 30% of 16-18-year-olds in the United States had smoked e-cigarettes in the past year, and more than 4 million American teenagers had smoked e-cigarettes.
What makes e-cigarettes so popular among teenagers? Time has clearly pointed out that one of the root causes is the rise of Juul, who adopted the strategy of conniving teenagers in the early stage of development.
Like the look of Juul. Different from the early e-cigarettes, which mostly simulate the cylinder shape of cigarettes, Juul’s long strip shape is similar to the U-disk, which is novel enough and can avoid the connection with cigarettes, greatly meeting the needs of teenagers in pursuit of trends and hiding in schoolbags and desks.
Reuters interviewed Juul’s former manager in a November 5 report, noting that Juul deliberately ignored signs that early e-cigarettes began to attract teenagers. One of the details mentioned is that after entering the market in 2015, Juul began to receive calls from teenagers asking where to buy more Juul products.
Some people advocate immediate measures to curb Juul’s popularity among teenagers, but co-founder James Munsis believes that Juul should not be accused of being addicted to nicotine among teenagers. Juul has no intention to promote or sell products to teenagers.
In other words, with the connivance of Juul, electronic cigarettes have become a “cool” symbol for American teenagers.
Will electronic cigarettes in the United States be so out of control now?
In the early stage of development, it was allowed to grow savagely, and it was not until the situation was out of control that it began to mend the situation.
In fact, in an academic report as early as January this year, THC has been determined to cause serious respiratory diseases. In 21 similar cases in California, the THC liquid purchased on the black market was used without exception.
Up to now, the United States has not formulated the relevant policies for THC flooding. But for the problem that electronic cigarette prevails in teenagers, it has also been ignored for many years.
It was only a year after Juul went public that FDA put e-cigarettes into the traditional tobacco control scope; it even went directly to secondary school campuses to publicize nicotine addiction knowledge to promote e-cigarettes. But it’s not until recently that this has attracted the attention of the U.S. government.
But opposition to the US ban has been rising. Michelle Minton, a senior fellow and policy analyst at the Washington competitive enterprise association, commented on the US ban:
“A comprehensive ban will not only fail to improve public health problems, but also put consumers at greater risk.”
In her view, the ban will force people to return to the embrace of traditional cigarettes, or buy electronic cigarette products with different tastes through the black market, or even THC oil, and eventually more people will be harmed by smoking or using illegal products.
As of 2018, the penetration rate of electronic cigarette market in the United States is as high as 13%, accounting for 43% of global electronic cigarette sales. If the ban on electronic cigarettes is not resolved as soon as possible, it will probably go the same way as the ban on alcohol.
02 “unique way” of China’s e-cigarettes
Why do I say that there will be no “Prohibition” tragedy in China?
Intuitively, up to now, there is no case of e-cigarette disease in China, and the overall situation is still under control. The reason lies in many aspects, which may affect the development of domestic electronic cigarette industry.
First, there is no soil damaged by THC in China;
In English, smoking e-cigs is not called smoking, but has a proper term vaping, which comes from the word “atomization”. What is reflected behind this is actually the difference in e-cigarette consumption between China and the United States.
Why is there an outbreak of lung disease caused by THC in the United States? Because its market rose in the era of “mod vape”, it precipitated a strong “vaper culture” for a long time, and was used by addicts.
The so-called “mod vape” refers to the above-mentioned open electronic cigarette filled with oil. Players in the circle are keen to discuss different winding methods of heating coils, matching of oil storage and oil drop atomizer, proportion of vapor and oil, showing different tastes.
The consumption base accumulated over the years, coupled with the relatively complex marijuana control in the United States, has resulted in the current outbreak of lung disease.
Not at home. Shenzhen controls 90% of the global production of e-cigarettes, but in the early years, orders were mainly exported. Take Smoore for example. In 2017 and earlier, its overseas order station once accounted for 99.99%.
However, although there were vaper circles in the early stage of China, the relatively high price and difficulty of starting make it difficult to form a trend out of circles. In addition, China’s significant investment in drug control over the years has also made it impossible for ordinary people to get access to THC.
In other words, the level of industrial development and China’s drug control efforts have eliminated the public health crisis similar to the U.S. lung disease epidemic from the source.
Second, the consumption of domestic e-cigarettes starts from pod vapes;
The pod vapes that really opens up China’s e-cigarette market is totally different from Juul’s growing environment.
Compared with aiming at the mod vapes of players who attach importance to playability, pod vape aims at the “harm reduction” to smokers. This consumer market started to break out from a wave of intensive financing and a group of continuous entrepreneurs in 2018.
For example, Smoore mentioned above, because of RELX’s strong rise in China last year, managed and operated a 4-story, 20000 square meter exclusive factory with the latter.
In August last year, the State Administration of market supervision and the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration jointly issued the circular on banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. The brands not only put an end to Juul’s “youth line”, but also actively began to respond.
For example, RELX put forward the “Guardian plan”: it is strictly prohibited to sell and market electronic cigarette products to minors, and adults should avoid using electronic cigarettes in front of minors; MOTI put forward the slogan of “Moti is cool, but it’s coller of being non-smoking”.
Until November 1, the domestic regulatory actions began to become more frequent. First, the notice urged the online ban, and then checked the e-commerce platform and content platform one by one. Each e-cigarette brand did not have the situation similar to Juul high-level turmoil and layoffs for the winter.
With timely regulation and cooperation of enterprises, the domestic e-cigarette industry may be able to avoid the tragedy of Juul. The sword of Damocles, engraved with “protect minors”, is expected to disappear with the efforts of all parties.
03 rational object watching “harm reduction”
If you have the patience to sort out the e-cigarette reports in the past year, the titles with the highest frequency must be such as:
Is electronic cigarette harmful or safe
This reflects that most of the media and the public are still in a black or white stage of the cognition of e-cigarettes.
The essence of electronic cigarette is “harm reduction”. The so-called “reduction” is a comparative level, compared with traditional cigarettes. There is a group of data circulating in the industry. If the harmfulness of traditional cigarettes is regarded as 100%, the harmfulness of HNB iqos is 10% – 30%, and that of vape is 5%.
However, the report of black or white may push the smokers who choose e-cigarettes to reduce the harm back to the traditional cigarettes.
In an interview last month, vice pointed out that the runaway of e-cigarettes in the United States is largely due to the rise of health issues to a moral level and the failure to promote effective measures for control.
The UK has developed e-cigarettes as an effective means of tobacco control. For example, Sandwell hospital and West Birmingham Hospital in the UK have introduced e-cigarette stores into the hospital in July to replace traditional cigarettes:
The British society’s cognition and attitude towards e-cigarettes can be seen from Deborah Robson, a senior researcher of tobacco addiction postdoc at King’s College London, in her interview with vice
“The UK has a long history of using harm reduction to improve public health. According to decades of research experience, we have found that nicotine is not the most harmful substance in tobacco. Only after tobacco combustion brings tens of millions of toxic gases and tar particles, can it really kill smokers. ”
In other words, the progress of e-cigarettes is to ensure that nicotine is provided for smokers to “enjoy” while abandoning the vast majority of harmful substances caused by combustion in traditional cigarettes.
In the UK, not only a large number of academic studies have shown that e-cigarettes are an effective means of harm reduction compared with traditional cigarettes, but also the government has taken them as a means to achieve a smoke-free society by 2030.
For example, according to the latest research published by University College London in addiction, an internationally renowned academic journal, e-cigarettes helped at least 50000 British smokers quit smoking successfully in 2017. Jamie Brown, a researcher at University College London, points out that the UK has found a reasonable balance between the regulation and promotion of e-cigarettes.
The British Department of public health, equivalent to the US CDC, has long appealed to the public: “the harm of e-cigarettes is 95% less than that of smoking.”. According to the Sun on October 30, Professor John Newton, an official of the United States, said that the United Kingdom will always be convinced of the harm reduction of e-cigarettes. The main culprit of the U.S. epidemic is illegal products containing THC.
He cites two key figures: one is that 220 people die from cigarettes every day in the UK; the other is that e-cigarettes have caused only 200 health problems in five years. In contrast, there is no doubt about the harm reduction of regular electronic cigarette products.
So, for e-cigarettes, the real more rational cognition is the official notice like the New Zealand Health Bureau: first of all, no smoking is recommended. If you can’t get rid of nicotine dependence like you can get rid of coffee, it’s recommended to choose electronic cigarettes.
At the end of the day, the real risk for the industry is that people start to cut through all the misunderstanding and eventually return to traditional cigarettes from e-cigarettes. Nowadays, the chain reaction caused by the rough tightening of e-cigarettes in the United States is exactly a negative case worth pondering for China.
In contrast, compared with the United States, the domestic e-cigarette industry has achieved early intervention and orderly guidance. However, it is worth noting that it is not advisable for the United States to overcorrect.