Love him or hate him, Trump’s time in office is going to be interesting. According to the clouds, some vapers expect big things from President Trump. Although the betting odds are in favor of the new president’s first term ending prematurely, the vape industry is picking up all sorts of waves that Trump might be good for business. And it’s not because of all of the stress-vapers.
1. Vaping and FDA reform
The main reason e-cigarette and, especially, e-liquid companies are feeling optimistic is because Trump plans to reform the FDA. Trump’s reform appears to be in the favor of Big Pharma, allowing these corporations to have free reign over drug prices. However, the e-cigarette community hopes that a reform will distract these huge, multinational companies from the vape industry that is effectively making Big Pharma’s smoking cessation products redundant.
According to Matt Rowland at Vapes:
Obama said that Big Pharma would only have to reduce their prices a little, but in exchange, they could place one of their Head Honchos in charge of the new branch of the FDA called the Center for Tobacco Products. Big Pharma chose Mitch Zeller from GlaxoSmithKline, and the Obama Administration gave him full reign over the new agency. And Mitch Zeller is the man most responsible for creating the new FDA deeming regulations that threaten to wipe out the entire vaping industry by 2018.
If Trump’s stance on vaccines is anything to go by, it looks as though Trump isn’t too concerned about Big Pharma’s interests. On the other hand, on Tuesday, Trump declared his new plan for lower drug prices: to create a more competitive market; give pharmaceutical companies tax breaks; and
“get rid of a tremendous number of regulations”
(Trump cited by RT)
Time will tell if these include the FDA’s e-cigarette regulations.
2. E-Cigarettes and the FDA’s new head
Trump plans to bring in a new head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is a big announcement. Trump said “We have a fantastic person that I think I’ll be naming fairly soon who’s going to streamline the FDA and you’ll get your products either approved or not approved, but it’ll be a quick process,” he said. “It won’t take 15 years.”
According to Boehm at Reason “Jim O'Neill, a managing director at Mithril Capital, an investment firm co-launched by Peter Thiel, has been rumored to be on Trump's shortlist to run the FDA.” Remember, Peter Thiel who, according to Beckett at Vapes.com “invested in vape product pioneers NJOY and is a close confidante of President-elect Donald Trump”. If that’s anything to go by, perhaps O’Neill, should he be appointed, will look favourably upon electronic cigarette FDA approval
3. Republican vapers
O'Neill and his buddy, Thiel, are not the only Trump-men with links to the vape world.
Californian Republican Duncan Hunter once said "e-cigarettes are a suitable alternative to cigarettes, and they could very well save my life." Right on, Congressman Hunter! You may remember Hunter's point-making cloud last year. The congressman started vaping in the middle of a discussion about anti-vaping legislation.
Another renowned pro-vaping Republican is Grover Norquist. This man hates tax increases! In fact, he "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle". Also, Norquist seems to really love the hardworking vape entrepreneur. Whats more, according to O'Haver at Vice, Grover is getting pretty "groovy". Norquist has "gone to Burning Man (his Playa name is "Grover") and gotten really into vaping." Norquist believes that "vaping and vapers will decide the future of America."
4. E-cig health issues and Big Tobacco
The local US vape industry may have reason to expect the FDA reform to include the reversal of Mitch Zeller’s deeming regulations. These are the FDA policies that make running a local American vape business so daunting. If tobacco lobbyists can get it right, the vape industry might see slacking of FDA regulations. Time will tell if this will, in fact, favor vaping.
Two weeks ago, two Big Tobacco companies made a notable announcement. British American Tobacco Pl and Reynolds American Inc are merging. Since analog cigarette sales started dropping (largely as a result of reduced e-cig health issues), these companies have been working to compete majorly in the e-cigarette industry. Now, as one of the most massive global tobacco corporations, they are set to compete against Philip Morris and Altria’s new technology, iQOS. This new smoking invention “heats tobacco but does not burn it, potentially preserving the qualities that smokers want with fewer health risks”(Jilian Mincer for Reuters). We'd stay clear, especially since TSNAs are contained in all analogs, as a result of processing and curing tobacco. Interestingly, the company submitted the product for FDA review just two months ago, in December 2016.
5. E-cigarette imports from China
An FDA reform could be likely, even though - or maybe because - it favors Big Tobacco. Another current of change is that Donald Trump proposes a 45% taxation on Chinese imports. This is something that could cause tidal waves of change in the vape industry. With Trump's policies, e-cigarette imports from China would just become too expensive, whether it's parts and supplies or Chinese-made devices. This means that Americans would have to make e-cigs right here in the US. The best e-liquids are made here at home.
However, the crunch on Chinese imports spells worry for many US vape device companies that are e-cigarette importers and distributors. For Jan Verleur, CEO and co-Founder of V2, the largest independent electronic cigarette brand in the US, Chinese imports are his company’s “lifeblood”. Although a US-based company, V2 manufactures the vast majority of its products in southern China. According Kathy Hoekstra at Watchdog.org “China …[is] the birthplace of the e-cigs, produces about 90 percent of the devices sold all over the world.”
It’s clear that Donald Trump wants everything to made at home. This could mean that vaping becomes more of a luxury market since we don't consider American-made devices to be cheap. That isn't a bad thing though. According to Crosbie, at Inverse, “[c]onnoisseurs would still search for the perfect pipe and the perfect juice and they’d pay a premium for buying American while getting, in return, a better experience”.
Prices that are too high are intimidating. Could a more exclusive vape market deter smokers from switching to e-cigarettes, regardless of e cig health benefits?
6. Vaping could mean jobs
One thing is apparent: many new jobs could be on the horizon. If Trump slacks FDA e-cigarette regulations and brings more manufacturing to the US. V2’s example shows that the vape industry presents opportunities for “young innovative companies that want to start something out of a two-bedroom apartment [to] turn it into a 1,500-person company.” This simply can’t happen if you need six or seven million dollars to start.
On the other hand, if President Trump lets the FDA’s stringent rules and regulations go ahead, many small to medium sized vape businesses could go under. Plenty of hardworking entrepreneurs could be left jobless, and that’s no way to make anything great again.
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