Last Updated on June 1, 2020
Vaping has taken the world by storm, with over 35 million people vaping. The alternative to smoking cigarettes has been touted as being healthier than cigarettes, but recent deaths have made a lot of people question the health risks associated with vaping.
Still, data shows us that vaping is still booming. The vaping market was worth $22.6 billion in 2018, and this figure is likely to rise.
What Happened in 2019 to Harm the Industry?
The year started off great for the vaping industry. Companies like Juul really flourished with interesting flavors that attracted adults, but the flavors also attracted teens. Juul’s products had 59 mg/ml of nicotine in the United States and 20 mg/ml in Europe.
A single cartridge of Juul has roughly the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
The high levels of nicotine made many teens start vaping. Teens are vaping in school, and without smell, many teachers do not know that their students are vaping.
Juul was accused of marketing specifically to teens and blamed for getting teens hooked on vaping.
The safety of Juul and their products started to come into question in the middle of the year. People vaping started to become sick, with more than 450 cases of lung disease in 33 states being reported by September 2019.
Two months later, in November, and news outlets are reporting over 2,100 lung illnesses and 42 deaths due to vaping.
Black market cartridges started to take the blame initially, but the reason for many people suffering from lung disease is still up for debate. Scientists have linked the illnesses to Vitamin E acetate.
The substance, not found in cigarettes, is safe for topical use, but not safe when inhaled.
Researchers have found the substance in the lungs of people that vape and have lung-related illnesses. Vitamin E acetate has a thick, sticky consistency and will stick to the lungs. Once in the lungs, the substance, which is likened to honey, will interfere with how the lungs function.
Consumers have become more cautious of their vaping usage after the spike in lung disease and deaths.
Black market suppliers, that often offer cannabis, are being blamed for the outbreak. Legitimate suppliers may also use the substance, which is known as a cutting agent.
Teens and the Future of the Industry
Teens will be the deciding factor in the industry. One-in-five high school students vape in the United States. Federal regulators wanted to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes that attract teens, and even the President had called for a crackdown.
The government seems to have shifted its stance after intense lobbying.
If outbreaks harm more teens, it’s likely that regulators will have to take action. One teen had to have a double lung transplant at the age of 17. The teen, a former athlete, started to get sick from vaping when he was 16.
Doctors found severe scarring and inflammation in his lungs, causing him to require a transplant to live. Double lung transplant patients have a much shorter life expectancy, with many starting to become sick after just five years.
The teen’s life will be significantly shorter after his transplant.
The vaping industry’s future will depend on whether or not the number of deaths and illnesses are able to be curbed.
San Francisco banned e-cigarettes in June 2019.
Juul, despite regulations and stopping the sale of flavored products to teens, had a 75% market share in the United States in July 2019.
Market growth is expected to continue rising at a pace of 22.5% CAGR through 2026. The market is expected to hit a value of $58.32 billion by this time. Emerging markets will continue to grow, with the United Kingdom, France, and Russia among the markets that are expected to push the market’s growth further.
It’s important to note that the European Union has stricter requirements on the industry and how much nicotine can be in each cartridge compared to the United States.
If the industry is able to pinpoint the cause of the recent spike in lung disease and death, the industry has a bright future ahead of it. Otherwise, market growth may be stifled as more deaths and bad press cause many adults and teens to reconsider their vaping habits.