The fifth instalment of the Next Generation Nicotine Delivery Conference in London had a packed speakers schedule and the attendance numbers reflected the growing interest this young industry has in standards, regulation, innovation and trends.
The two-day intensive event was held at the Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel, in view of the Palace of Westminster where a draft Brexit deal was being debated the same week.
All the while across the Thames sat a couple of hundred business people debating whether Brexit would in turn have much of an effect on their industry.
Like heads of state, leading professionals in all sorts of vape-related organisations and associations from around the world took a seat at the table, sharing opinions about what the best direction is for the future of the trade.
As expected, Brexit, salt-based nicotine and CBD dominated conversation.
We’ve summed up the highlights of the 2018 event, as it heads into its sixth year in 2019.
Raising the bar
There’s room for improvement where standards are concerned. A group discussion on the current and future landscape of standards within the industry took place on day two of this conference. This included notable industry members who took on board the considerations and viewpoints of the various professionals and business owners among the audience. On this panel sat Neil McCallum of JAC Vapour, Andrej Kuttruf of Evapo and Pierre-Marie Guitton of the Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco in France and all three gentlemen were in agreement that the industry as a whole can improve on its standards.
Mr Kuttruff touched on the point that there may be opportunities for self-regulation, calling on brands and manufacturers to take further responsibility for their products. He said: “It’s good as an industry to some extent to self-regulate. As an industry, we have to do some growing up.”
He made the analogy of Elon Musk turning his attention from regular petrol or diesel motors to electric cars, in demonstrating the shift among Big Tobacco brands in turning their focus from cigarettes to e-cigarettes in recent years. On the topic of branding, marketing and the youth issue coming across the Atlantic from the US, Mr Kuttruf added: “We have a massive perception problem, one we have to address as an industry. What we don’t need is a bad reputation.” On prospects after Brexit, Neil McCallum of Scottish-based JAC Vapour said, “I don’t personally think Brexit will have an impact on what we do.”
Burden of proof
Ronan Stafford, lead analyst with GlobalData Consumer, addressed the room as the first speaker on day one. He outlined possible hurdles to be faced by those in the room, alluding to a possible crackdown on flavours – not just in the US – and the probability of a specific tax on vaping which may not be as far off in the future as some may think.
“There will be a crackdown on flavours and it will be through legislation,” he said, adding that the industry will face an increased burden of proof where smoking cessation is concerned. This, he said, may involve a product’s status as being modified or posing reduced risk being subject to increasing scepticism. Mr Stafford also added that we can expect larger studies, more studies and specifically, “studies to prove smoking cessation,” which many will welcome.
In issue 18, we reported on the possible ‘sin tax’ which was speculated to be on the cards at the Treasury. On the prospect of a vape tax, Mr Stafford said: “Higher taxes on next generation nicotine products may be something we need to adjust for in the coming months. We may see different tax structures, one for smoking cessation products, another for heat-not-burn.”
On what drives the vape market, Mr Stafford said it’s all down to what’s convenient for people, in making e-cigarettes the more convenient choice for smokers who want to quit. “A lot of the market is driven by convenience, what’s close to your work and home.”
The analyst provided research statistics, in particular, one element demonstrating that 60 percent of European consumers are influenced by how unique and enjoyable a product is. In comparison, this stands at 66 percent in North America, 65 percent in the Asia Pacific region and 65 percent in Latin America.
He said: “Unique flow and experiences are key to consumer preferences in every region ranking highest among consumers.”
Oliver Mammon, co-founder of InHemp / CBD Vape Shot took part in a panel discussion designed to examine the European cannabinoid market. He spoke at length about the barriers to CBD trade, such as ‘hit and miss’ PayPal which its reported has been blocking CBD companies from its service. However, Mr Mammon noted there has been a recent shift among card payment facilitators, “in the last two to three months.”
“Everything has opened up. It’s refreshing, it makes doing business a little bit easier. On the future of CBD in the UK and Europe, Mr Mammon added, “I think we’re in for one hell of a ride.” Also on this panel were Boris Banas, CSO at CBDepot.s.r.o, Nathan Wogman, co-founder at InHemp / CBD Vape Shot, Alex Michaels, director at C21 / CBD Health Store, Sasha Bajilo, CEO Ilesol and Ben Walker, director at N.V Biotech.
Vapouround Magazine is media partner to the Next Generation Nicotine Delivery Conference.