For vaping companies, business just keeps getting better and better. Sales of vapor pens that are used as substitutes for tobacco cigarettes are on the rise. Hookah pen models are even being shown in television shows like the Netflix series “House of Cards” and the HBO series “True Detective,” and celebrities are being spotted with them, even on the red carpet.
The increase in popularity of the electronic cigarette has made the FDA begin considering how to regulate the vapor pen industry. To protect their business interests, the biggest ecig companies are mobilizing and sending lobbyists to Washington to work on their behalf.
A Growing Industry with Billion Dollar Roots
Economic analysts estimate that the electronic cigarette has an overall value of around $1.7 billion and predict that the companies will enjoy increasing success with virtually no limit on growth potential over the next 10 years. You may think that ecig manufacturers are in direct competition with tobacco companies, but some of the most popular brands are actually owned by Big Tobacco. For example, Reynolds American makes Camel and Winston brands of cigarettes plus the very popular VUSE ecig. With billions of dollars of assets, tobacco companies that own electronic cigarette manufacturing subsidiaries have ample resources available to ensure that their voices are heard in Washington.
The Mission of ECig Lobbyists
Normally, Washington lobbyists set their sights on lawmakers, hoping to sway their opinions and get them to vote one way or another on key legislation; however, vape pen lobbyists have a slightly different goal. They are working to connect with regulators at the FDA who are currently refining the regulations that will one day govern the sale of electronic cigarette products. In interviews, representatives of hookah pen manufacturers have advised that companies want to ensure that regulators have accurate information about their products (such as seen on vapor plants), so that they can make the best possible, informed decisions regarding regulations.
Alignments between Regulators and the ECig Industry
You might think that electronic cigarette manufacturers would be completely at odds with regulators, but based on interviews and statements issued by the FDA, it’s clear that they share two beliefs:
- Electronic Cigarettes Are Safer than Cigarettes. The FDA is already on the record stating that vapor pen usage is most likely a healthier choice than using tobacco cigarettes, and obviously, the ecig industry agrees. What is at issue is how responsibly electronic cigarette products are being marketed, sold, and used.
- Vapor Pens Should Be Kept out of the Hands of Children. Representatives from major vapor pen brands have shared that companies support changes to make it harder for minors to obtain hookah pen products, and confirm that they manufacture products strictly for adult use. Most manufacturers already strive to adhere to the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act, a law that makes it illegal to market tobacco products to minors.
Until the FDA releases their final set of ecig regulations, we won’t know for sure what impact lobbyists are having on the discussion, but with billions of dollars on the line, you can be sure that they’re doing everything they can to fight on behalf of their employers.