Before the surge in cases of e-cigarette and vaping use-associated lung injuries (EVALI), vaping use was on the rise. This was especially true among young people. According to a study done by researchers from the University of Michigan, 21% of college students vape.
From seven million globally in 2011, the number of vape users has increased to 41 million in 2018; this number is projected to increase even further to almost 55 million by next year.
It’s clear from the numbers that vaping is here to stay. But in the aftermath of the EVALI controversy, what does the future hold for vaping and vape users? Here are some predictions from industry experts.
Increased Regulatory Pressure will Result in Better Products
The negative publicity generated by the recent EVALI cases has resulted in louder calls for vaping regulation. The FDA is in the process of crafting new regulations on e-cigarette products, while certain states have banned the use of certain vaping products.
President Trump even proposed a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in September 2019. This was followed by an announcement in January 2020 that cartridge-based products in flavors other than tobacco and menthol will be removed from the market.
This was a clear stab at manufacturers like Juul, which was at the center of last summer’s EVALI controversy due to its popularity among younger users. Indeed, it effectively exempts tank-style vapes, which are sold only to those of legal age.
At this point, experts predict that these new regulations will result in products with lower vitamin E acetate content, as well as safer vape tanks and batteries.
More People will use Vapes to Consume Cannabis
As people become more open about their cannabis consumption, CBD producers will develop new and better ways of enjoying it. Vaping, in particular, is fast gaining popularity, especially for those who have medical prescriptions for CBD.
Vapes are a lot easier to use than other methods. They also don’t leave behind any residues. In addition, CBD vapes are practically odorless, making them a lot more acceptable among medical cannabis users.
While THC was identified as one of the addictive components in vaping products that caused EVALI last fall, it was not the cause of these health issues.
If anything, the EVALI controversy could only result in more stringent quality and safety standards for CBD-based vaping products.
More Vape Users will Buy In-Store
Manufacturers like Juul benefited from the wide availability of their products, placing both Juul units and cartridges in places such as convenience stores, where age checks are not strictly applied.
However, we’ve already discussed the ban on vaping products with flavors other than tobacco or menthol. As such, this advantage will cease to exist.
Most e-cigarette and vape users already buy their devices and e-juices in vape shops, and the latest regulations are likely to steer more users towards specialist shops.
First-time vapers looking for the best starter vape kit also go to vape shops to seek advice on the types of device that suits their lifestyle. At the same time, online sales are likely to plateau, especially with the FDA cracking down on black-market sellers.
Manufacturers will Pivot to Europe to Generate More Sales
Europe has stricter overall controls on the sale and manufacture of vaping products. These including a cap on the nicotine content of e-juices. However, governments have not proposed Trump-style blanket bans on vaping products.
Instead, vaping in Europe is treated as potentially useful for smoking cessation programs.
Doctors and public health professionals are in agreement that e-cigarettes are not as risky as tobacco, with one independent study claiming that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.
In fact, the professor who wrote the study says, “e-cigarettes could be a game-changer in public health”.
This makes Europe a more appealing market for manufacturers of vaping products seeking to expand their reach. The stricter regulations will also mean more focus on research and development, especially when it comes to the nicotine content of the products.
People will Find New Uses for Vaping
However, some studies show that vaping (and inhalation in general) increases the bioavailability of certain vitamins, such as vitamin B12. Bioavailability indicates how well a certain substance is absorbed by the body.
Oral supplements that contain vitamin B12 have a bioavailability of 10 micrograms per 500 micrograms. Inhaled vitamin B12 is absorbed hundreds of times better – a figure comparable only to intramuscular injections.
However, unlike shots, vaping is a low-cost, painless way to deliver vitamin B12.
Not all medical professionals are convinced about the effectiveness of this approach, but vitamin vape manufacturers are constantly working to develop low-risk, low-heat alternatives to tobacco vapes.
Closed Vaping Systems will Overtake Open Systems by 2020
Most vaping products sold today are of the open-system variety. That is, they are refilled manually by the user. Closed system vapes, on the other hand, use refill packs that are attached to the vape’s battery.
Industry observer Euromonitor International says that the demand for closed system vapes will overtake that for open system e-cigarettes for the first time, with estimated sales of $10 billion this year.
Fears over the safety and manufacturing standards of black-market e-juices are likely to drive up the sales of e-juice cartridges despite the ban on flavored e-cigarettes imposed by the Trump administration.
Niche products, such as vitamin and CBD vape cartridges, will also add to this figure.
By 2023, closed system vaping products will form around 75% of all e-cigarette sales, thanks to their ease of use, portability, and lower initial investment compared to open systems.
The future of vaping holds so much promise despite recent incidents.
As regulations become stricter, manufacturers will come up with better and safer products while offering new vaping experiences. With medical professionals also jumping on the vaping bandwagon as an aid to smoking cessation, it’s safe to say that vapes will not go anywhere.