Tuesday, 6 January 2015

eCigarettes 2015: To December And Beyond

It's been a long time since I wrote a new blog (on here at least), so I thought it might be time to put that right by reflecting on events that happened over the Christmas and New Year period, and on what 2015 might bring.

As with most people, the Christmas/New Year period was spent making merry and consuming copious amounts of food and alcohol. The Public Health nut-jobs must really dread this time of year, seeing people actually going out and enjoying themselves for once. The economy gets a massive boost as we all go out and buy frivolous things as presents for people who will probably never use them. We buy far too much food (a large part of which ends up going to waste), enough alcohol to keep a pub going for a week, and of course quite a few people will having 'embarassing' moments to try and forget as a result of having consumed just a little more alcohol than they intended at their works do.

The pubs and restaurants did a booming trade catering for Christmas parties and of course the pubs themselves were full for almost the entire period as customers were finally able to let their hair down and stick two fingers up at the Public Health zealots. It was certainly a time to make merry and forget about any troubles we may have. Mercifully, the period also shut those Public Health zealots up (for the most part).

Cue the New Year however, and the inevitable 'Stop Smoking' campaigns started in earnest in a fanfare on Breakfast TV and the news. You can tell how orchestrated it all was by the supposed 'big names' that were all wheeled out to speak on the subject.

As an ex-smoker myself, I always detested this kind of nannying and cajoling. At the end of the day, people who choose to smoke know of the risks and no amount of campaigns is going to make an iota of difference to them. But Public Health need to justify the obscene amount of public money it receives each year and I guess they think that such campaigns show that they are doing something. It's about time that cuts in public money was brought down on these people as they serve no purpose other than their own ideological and puritanical interests.

People are opening their eyes and seeing through the Nanny state. Their days are numbered. The three main political parties are in panic-mode to stop the electorate moving to ‘alternative’ parties with their votes. Labour in particular are worried about this as the general public shows increasing signs of tiring of their nannying ways.

Which brings us nicely on to where 2015 might take us.

Two immediate areas of concern are the ongoing Public Health Consultations in Wales and Scotland. The Scottish Consultation has only just completed (2nd January), but the Welsh one ran its course during the second half of 2014. In Wales, Labour are beginning to wake up to the reality that the general public are fed up of the constant intrusions into their personal lives. There has been strong opposition to the proposal to ban eCigarettes from enclosed public spaces. The Welsh Petition drummed up considerable support both from the vaping public and from opposition AM’s.

However, a lesson learned during the Welsh Consultation is how the people attempting to impose such bans ‘cherry-pick’ the responses. The fact that the majority of public responses were in opposition to the proposals seemed to bear no weight in the eyes of the Health Minister, who bullishly pushed on stating that most of the public bodies were in agreement with his proposals. He neatly avoided noting that both the Royal College of Physicians and ASH opposed his proposals. Furthermore, he accused the general public of being part of an orchestrated campaign due to the fact that many of the responses were from template letters. The fact that the responses from many of the public bodies (especially the NHS Trusts) were also almost word for word identical to each other is, in his eyes, by-the-by.

The Health Minister needs a strong reminder that public bodies such as the NHS Trusts and the BMA do NOT vote him into office. We, the general public, do that and he ignores us at his peril. Elected officials are elected to serve the public, not puritanical societies like the BMA. This is something I fully intend to remind the Health Minister of when he finally comes face to face with me in the coming year.

The Scottish opposition to a ban on vaping in enclosed spaces would do well to learn this lesson. They must not allow the politicians to run roughshod over the electorate and ignore their wishes. The SNP gained significant support during the Independence campaign, but if they think they can sit back and rely on that support continuing whilst they try to interfere in the private lives of their citizens then they will be in for shock. The upcoming General Election may go a long way in reminding them of this fact when May arrives. It is easier to LOSE support than it is to gain it.

2015 is also the year when the TPD will finally be challenged in the European Court. It is being challenged on several fronts. The Tobacco Industry were the first to launch a legal challenge, quickly followed by an actual Nation – Poland. Toward the end of the year, Totally Wicked also launched their legal action and were given permission to take their case to the European Court. I have heard rumours that other vendors are also about to launch legal challenges of their own. But as those are unsubstantiated rumours (to the best of my knowledge) at present, I will not be naming any further names in this blog.

I am confident that at least one of those challenges will be successfully (and reasonably confident that all of them will be successful). My big hope is that the legal challenges will expose the cloak-and-dagger negotiations that went on behind the scenes in the European Parliament when the TPD was forced through and that we will also learn just who was lobbying whom. I am pretty certain that more than a few skeletons might be exposed from the closets were this to happen.

Of course, any successful legal challenge to the TPD will have an inevitable knock-on effect to the proposals in both Wales and Scotland that the prohibitionists are trying to push through. For this reason, I feel the first 6 months of 2015 is going to be the most significant period.

On other fronts, science and evidence is beginning to show its teeth in the ongoing propaganda war being waged by the likes of McKee, Chapman, Glantz, the WHO and the BMA. Constantly being faced with real scientific evidence from the true scientists, the ANTZ are increasingly tripping themselves up and they desperately strive for new angles to undermine vaping and put their own evidence-less, puritanical viewpoints over. I find it interesting that each time new scare stories appear in the news, non-vapers are now also questioning what they are hearing. As stated above, people are starting to push back on the ever increasing intrusions into their private lives by these people. They are starting to see where the path is inexorably leading us and they don’t like what they see. If left unchecked, the ANTZ will see the entire EU become one massive police state (some may argue it is already dangerously close to being that).

Finally, what about eCigarettes themselves ?

Toward the end of 2014, we saw the launch of what is probably the 4th Generation evolution of the eCigarette. This is something that could never have been achieved if eCigarettes were already regulated in the way the TPD seeks to do. It is this very innovation that is driving the eCigarette industry forward with ever increasing momentum. With the release of Evolv’s rDNA40 chip, we now finally have a means of controlling the temperatures of eCig coils. This removes one of the big obstacles that the ANTZ were trying to use against us in 2014. With temperature control, it will be impossible to push an eCigarette to the temperatures that are said to produce any dangerous by-product (notwithstanding the fact that no vaper would ever go to such temperatures anyway as it would produce a nasty burnt taste).

However, with the ever increasing rate of innovation in eCigarette Technology, it wouldn’t surprise me if we were to be talking about Generation 5 devices before the end of 2015 is reached. What would a Gen 5 device look like ? The answer to that is ‘How far can your imagination take you ?’

Whilst it was said that eCigarettes sales plateau’ed during 2014, personally I did not see much evidence of this. At the start of 2014, it was still quite rare to see an eCigarette being used ‘in the wild’. As 2014 closed, I was aware of ever increasing numbers of people I could spot in all walks of life and environments happily vaping away on some device or other. From how busy I have noted the local bricks and mortar shops to be in the run-up to Christmas, I expect to see eCigarettes becoming even more commonplace in 2015.

Also of interest to me was how few ‘cigalikes’ I was actually seeing about the place by the close of 2014. Big Tobacco may have invested heavily in buying the independent cigalike companies up in an effort to control the eCigarette market. But they have got it badly wrong in my opinion, and backed the wrong horse. People are increasingly going directly to Gen 2 (and sometime even Gen 3) devices and ignoring the cigalike market. Of course, there is nothing to stop Big Tobacco from trying again and buying up the independent Gen 2 Vendors/Manufacturers, but the current situation means that we can still assert with considerable ease that Big Tobacco is very much a minor player in the eCigarette marketplace and I would even argue that what presence they do maintain in the eCigarette Marketplace is rapidly dwindling.

So, in summary, we have two areas to watch in 2015. The first is the regulatory side of things and whether they manage to force through strict regulation (which I doubt), and secondly the really interesting part will be the speed of innovation and evolution of eCigarette Technology. I strongly suspect that the Technology is moving much too fast for the Regulatory side of things to keep up with. Innovation and evolution is going to be our greatest ally. Long may it continue.

A very Happy New Year to all my blog readers and Twitter followers.

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