In its ongoing struggle to overturn the FDA e-cig regulations, the American vaping industry might have recently discovered a very unlikely friend and ally. China might be the industry’s secret weapon, one with tremendous amounts of political influence, power, and money.
Modern-day electronic cigarettes were actually invented almost ten years ago by a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik, who also just happened to be addicted to smoking. He wanted to invent a device that would simulate the effects of smoking tobacco without ingesting all of the deadly toxins. Oddly, e-cigs sales in the United States began skyrocketing almost immediately while the Chinese people have been somewhat resistant to the new trend.
Smoking is still one of the biggest health problems facing China in 2016. An estimated 1.2 million Chinese citizens die from smoking-related illnesses every year, and Big Tobacco rakes in about $200 billion annually just from this single, national market. On the other hand, China is beginning to reap the financial rewards of a global vaping community that demands bigger and better technology as fast as they can get it.
China, innovation, and the FDA e-cig regulations
While the FDA e-cig regulations will very likely stifle innovation in the United States after the coming August 8 prohibition date, the rules simply don’t apply to manufacturers in China where even tobacco cigarettes are largely unregulated. This lack of government oversight of the Chinese tobacco industry makes for fierce competition among the marketplace, which is part of China’s problem. Cigarettes are cheap, so people keep smoking, and unfortunately, keep dying.
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Meanwhile, this highly competitive tobacco market (and cheap cigarettes) leads to extremely low profit margins for cigarette vendors. But because an estimated 300 million people smoke in China, nearly every business is forced to sell them just to keep their customers happy. However, things began to change when two young vaping start-ups named Kangertech and Innokin began manufacturing their products in this bustling, smoke-addicted, eastern country.
As a result, the Chinese discovered rather quickly that they are very good at making high quality e-cigs and vaping devices for a very low price. And along the way, they also learned better and safer ways to make them. Yes, the American vaping community has enjoyed ten years of rapidly advancing vaping technology and steadily falling prices largely due to the ingenuity of the Chinese.
China, SEVIA, and the American Vaping Industry
As American retailers become increasingly frustrated with the impending FDA e-cig regulations, many are considering moving their entire operations overseas. And where better to relocate than to a country that is quickly becoming the global expert in e-cig innovation and safety? Perhaps along the way, they can pick up a bunch of new customers, too.
If only one percent of the Chinese smoking community transitioned to vaping, then that translates to a potential new customer base that spends a whopping $3.5 million per year. And because of cheap cigarettes and escalating smoking-related death rates, the Chinese government is beginning to show signs of growing concern over the public health of its citizens. In April 2016, China officially banned smoking in all public venues and during all government activities.
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In January 2016, China also helped create a vaping advocacy group called the Shenzhen Electronic Vaporizer Industry Association (SEVIA). Members include vaping manufacturers like Kangertech, Innokin, Aspire, Joyetech, and Smok while the organization also invites all vendors to join regardless of their geographical location. SEVIA supports the Cole-Bishop Amendment, essential legislation currently in the United States Congress that will reset the predicate date of the FDA e-cig regulations. And SEVIA even provides financial support to several American-based advocacy groups, including the Right 2 Be Smoke-Free Coalition and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA).
The FDA e-cig regulations have definitely taken the American vaping industry by storm, but hope is not lost. While America is well known for its bureaucratic red tape and a legislative process that moves at a snail’s pace, China has a reputation for taking the bull by the horns and getting things done. Thankfully, China is on the side of the United States vaping industry and not the FDA. Otherwise, we might really be in a world of trouble.
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- Tags: August 8, China, Cole-Bishop Amendment, FDA Deeming Regulations, FDA e-cig regulations, Prohibition, SEVIA