In 2012, Bonnie Herzog, leading tobacco analyst for Wells Fargo, predicted electronic cigarettes will overtake tobacco cigarettes within ten years. In 2013 she confirmed that projection and said Big Tobacco will take over most of the market.
A competitive free market was not going to determine the winners or losers in the e-cig industry. With this kind of money at stake it was going to take the participation of one of the United States federal executive departments, the FDA, to guarantee the takeover.
On April 24th the FDA’s long awaited deeming regulations regarding electronic cigarettes were released. If these regulations go into effect as written, the number of legal e-cig manufacturers will go from about a thousand … to about five. The twenty thousand legal e-cig products will be cut to … around six. It will cost an e-cig manufacturer close to ten million dollars to file an application with the FDA for each e-cig product. Only Big Tobacco, who has already entered the e-cig market, can afford to jump through those hoops. There will always be e-cigs. Just not the ones I use. Just not the ones I buy from the vendors I like.
In short, the FDA’s 241 pages of provisions give the e-cigarette industry to Big Tobacco.
It took two and a half years for the FDA to come up with these regulations. The public comment period will last only 75 days. Soon there will be much activity by e-cig users, vendors, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, and tobacco harm reduction experts, to extend the comment period. There will be petitions to sign and letters sent to members of congress. If the deeming regulations go into law as written, within three to four years virtually all the e-cigs in use today will be banned, and Ms. Herzog’s projection about Big Tobacco’s primacy in the market will come to pass.