In 2023, the global vaping industry underwent substantial transformations as a result of regulatory and market changes, greatly impacting its future trajectory. As a prominent media and think tank within the vaping industry, VAPINGFIRST emphasizes the ten most significant events of the year and their profound influence on both our lives and the industry’s future course.
Key News Highlights
1# UK Market Issues with Disposable E-cigarettes:
The “ELFBAR 600” product was reported by the UK’s Daily Mail on February 6, 2023, for exceeding e-liquid limits. Major retailers like Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s removed the product, and Booker recalled it. Several other brands were also found non-compliant in subsequent tests.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: UK stands as one of the most e-cigarette-friendly markets worldwide and ranks second only to the USA in terms of market size. The incident surrounding the ‘exceeding e-liquid limits’ has had a significant impact on regulations and the market in the UK. This has sparked ongoing discussions regarding disposable e-cigarette regulations, with a growing focus on safeguarding minors and protecting the environment. As the year draws to a close, the UK government has carried out public consultations pertaining to disposable e-cigarettes.
2# France’s Move to Ban Disposable E-cigarettes:
The French National Assembly passed a bill on December 4 to ban disposable e-cigarettes, pending approval from the French Senate and the EU Commission. This is part of France’s broader strategy to create a smoke-free generation by 2032.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: the rapid growth of the global e-cigarette market in the past three years can be attributed to the increasing popularity of disposable products. However, governmental attention has been drawn to the environmental concerns associated with such products. Notably, France has become the first European country to explicitly regulate disposable e-cigarettes, exemplifying its leading role in the EU’s e-cigarette markets.
3# WHO Urges Equal Treatment for E-cigarettes and Traditional Tobacco:
On December 14, 2023, the WHO called for governments to treat e-cigarettes the same as traditional tobacco, citing insufficient evidence of their effectiveness in quitting smoking and potential health risks, especially regarding nicotine addiction in non-smokers, children, and teenagers.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: the WHO FCTC serves as a ‘compass’ for global tobacco policies. Its stance on novel tobacco products could directly influence global governments’ regulatory approach to e-cigarettes. Previously, regions like the US, UK, and EU had a lenient attitude towards e-cigarettes, considering their potential as smoking cessation aids. Now, the WHO’s proposal to regulate e-cigarettes like traditional cigarettes changes the traditional distinction between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. The WHO’s stance will significantly impact future regulatory policies and adjustments in various countries.
4# SMOORE’s Launch of FEELM 2.0:
SMOORE announced the FEELM 2.0 technology in the UK on November 10, 2023, featuring a 2ml compliant disposable pod system with enhanced e-liquid utilization.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: as one of the world’s largest e-cigarette manufacturers, SMOORE did not initially capitalize on the disposable product wave. The launch of FEELM 2.0 represents SMOORE’s new solution in the disposable field, focusing on ‘compliance + technology.’ Under the expectation that the UK and EU will not change e-liquid limits, SMOORE’s technology offers new opportunities for disposable product compliance. This attempt also presents a new insight for the industry, suggesting that future innovation can continue in key areas such as audience-tailored vaporization heating technology, smarter devices, and safer battery technology.
5#FDA’s Import Alert on Chinese E-cigarette Companies:
On May 17, 2023, the FDA issued an “Import Alert” for several Chinese e-cigarette enterprises, signaling increased scrutiny and retention of unapproved new tobacco products entering the US.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: the US is the largest e-cigarette market globally and a trendsetter. The FDA, as the main regulatory body for e-cigarettes in the US, has its actions closely monitored by global manufacturers and regulatory bodies. The FDA’s ‘Import Alert’ on leading e-cigarette brands and its continuous enforcement and seizures of related products in collaboration with customs and CBP indicate the onset of an era of strict enforcement by the US government. The focus on ELFBAR, a leading disposable e-cigarette brand in the US market, indicates shifting market dynamics.
6# Russia’s Comprehensive E-cigarette Legislation:
On April 11, 2023, Russia’s State Duma passed a law regulating e-cigarettes, including banning flavorings and additives in nicotine-containing products to make them less appealing to minors.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: Russia is the fourth largest and one of the most eye-catching emerging markets globally. Its large market size and previously lenient regulations attracted many brands, creating the world’s largest ‘grey market’. The Russian State Duma’s comprehensive e-cigarette legislation and implementation of ‘honest labeling’ in 2023 mark the beginning of a compliant era in the Russian e-cigarette market. Although full regulatory implementation is still some time away, there is a noticeable increase in legally compliant products in Russia, indicating a shift towards a healthier market. The implementation of licensing systems and a list of flavor additives in 2024 will further solidify the market’s compliance.
7# China Tobacco’s International Showcase:
China Tobacco International (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd. presented a range of new heat-not-burn tobacco products at an international tobacco exhibition from September 14-16, 2023.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: China Tobacco is the largest tobacco enterprise globally, and its Hong Kong branch is the sole export agent for China’s new tobacco products. The global industry closely watches its moves in the new tobacco field. This showcase by China Tobacco International, along with several subsidiaries, not only demonstrates the maturation of Chinese-style heat-not-burn cigarettes after years of research and development but also reflects China Tobacco’s determination and confidence in bringing high-quality new tobacco products to the global market.
8# China’s Quality Assurance System for E-cigarette Exports:
On July 18, 2023, China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration issued guidelines for building a quality assurance system for e-cigarette exports, emphasizing the responsibility of enterprises in ensuring product quality.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: the issuance of China’s ‘E-cigarette Export Quality Guidelines’ is a significant document following the inclusion of e-cigarettes under monopoly license management in the Chinese market. It outlines quality requirements and regulatory measures for export products at the regulatory level. As the main global supply chain hub for e-cigarettes, with over 90% of manufacturing occurring in China, these new regulatory measures by China’s tobacco monopoly authorities are of great significance for enhancing global e-cigarette product quality and combating illegal trade.
9# BAT’s Failed Attempt to Acquire ELFBAR:
British American Tobacco (BAT) showed interest in acquiring the ELFBAR brand from Aiqicha, but Aiqicha declined the offer on December 12, 2022, after several discussions.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: ELFBAR, under Aiqicha, is a globally renowned disposable e-cigarette brand with leading market positions in the US and UK. BAT, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, has extensive experience in global operations and capital acquisitions. The news of BAT’s intent to acquire ELFBAR indicates that the e-cigarette market competition has reached new heights, with leading enterprises considering capital means to create an oligopolistic competition. ELFBAR’s growth into a brand that can compete with traditional tobacco companies like BAT in just over three years also demonstrates the enormous potential of the e-cigarette market.
10# Indonesia’s Rising E-cigarette Exports to the US:
In June 2023, it was reported that 35% of e-cigarette imports in the US came from Indonesia, challenging China’s dominance in the supply chain.
VAPINGFIRST’s Comment: e-cigarettes were invented in China, and their production mainly relies on China. However, in the past three years, due to a combination of regulatory and international trade factors, some e-cigarette enterprises have started setting up manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia and other regions. China remains the largest manufacturing base for e-cigarettes, but the trend of production moving overseas is significant and deserves attention.