Looking back at the e-cigarette industry in 2023

Looking back at the e-cigarette industry in 2023

In 2023, regulatory challenges and misinformation continue to test the e-cigarette industry.

It's still a frustrating business environment. Despite setbacks in 2023, the e-cigarette market has survived and continues to grow as a global market. However, differing regulatory views on the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes continue to hinder smokers' acceptance of e-cigarettes. The past 12 months could also be called the year of the Great Escape, as several e-cigarette retailers and manufacturers went out of business. Despite the challenges, more and more former smokers are continuing to quit smoking.

While several countries have banned, enacted regulations, or continued to strictly regulate e-cigarette products, the U.S. has rejected many Premarket Tobacco Product Applications (PMTAs), which has had the biggest impact on the industry this year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ban on most e-cigarette products has turned the disposable e-cigarette black market into a multi-billion dollar industry. According to data from ECigIntelligence, disposable e-cigarettes account for nearly 40% of the global e-cigarette market.

Critics accuse the industry of evading responsibility for the environmental damage caused by disposable vaping products, while federal regulators have failed to pass measures to make vaping components easier to recycle or more environmentally friendly. Several regulations have been proposed to reduce the environmental impact of products. For example, standards could be developed requiring them to be reusable, or requiring manufacturers to fund collection and recycling programs.

Disposable e-cigarettes now account for about 53% of the multibillion-dollar e-cigarette market in the United States, more than doubling in size since 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several states, including New York and California, have extended product liability laws to computers and other electronics, but those rules do not apply to vaping products. At the federal level, there are no regulations specifically addressing the handling of vaping products. Some experts say the devastating environmental impacts could last for centuries if no action is taken.

Misinformation surrounding the e-cigarette industry also continues to spread in 2023. Nearly half of smokers and young adult non-smokers believe nicotine-containing e-cigarettes contain the same or more harmful chemicals as regular tobacco cigarettes, according to a Rutgers study.

Another study found that there is also a lot of exaggeration and misinformation about e-cigarettes on social media. Some tweets exaggerated or misrepresented claims about nicotine and addiction, while others misinterpreted scientific research to promote e-cigarette use. There are also tweets that downplay the harmful effects of nicotine and promote its benefits, which is a potential problem. Here are the biggest vaping industry headlines in 2023. We'll be doing a month-by-month review.

January

Upscale UK-based grocer Waitrose has stopped selling disposable e-cigarette products due to environmental concerns. The FDA says it will decide "within months" how to regulate legal marijuana (no decision has been made yet). Vaposso becomes the first open system e-cigarette device brand to gain sales capabilities in the United Arab Emirates. The Netherlands bans flavors and Belgium says it plans to restrict flavor names and vaping devices. The World Journal of Oncology has retracted a 2022 article that claimed e-cigarette users face the same cancer risks as combustible cigarette smokers. Taiwan’s legislature bans e-cigarette products. A U.S. district judge has given preliminary approval to a $255 million settlement that resolves consumer claims that Juul Labs deceptively sold e-cigarettes.

February

Hong Kong has begun to implement a ban on CBD, classifying it as a "dangerous drug" and imposing severe penalties on those who possess it. Bloomberg Philanthropies has pledged $420 million over four years to the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. Australia has rescheduled the use of psychedelic drugs psilocybin and ecstasy, providing access for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Connecticut sued five companies for selling delta-8 products. Alex Nocia resigned from Filter to take a job at Altria. RAI Services has filed a citizen petition asking the FDA to adopt new enforcement policies targeting “unlawfully marketed disposable electronic nicotine delivery systems [ENDS]” products. Matthew Farrelly, former chief scientist and director of the Center for Health Analysis at RTI International, has been named director of the Office of Science in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). For the first time, FDA has imposed a civil penalty for illegal sales of ENDS products.

March

Altria exchanged its entire investment in Juul Labs for a non-exclusive, irrevocable, global license to certain Juul heated tobacco intellectual property. Altria also agreed to acquire Njoy Holdings for about $2.75 billion and asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to drop a 2020 challenge to the company's 2018 acquisition of a 35% stake in Juul Labs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has imposed new requirements on tobacco product manufacturers regarding the manufacture, design, packaging and storage of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. RLX Technologies revealed that its 2022 financial results have been significantly impacted by new industry regulations and e-cigarette taxes in China, as well as coronavirus-related disruptions. A U.S. federal judge has dismissed the tobacco industry’s lawsuit challenging California’s statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. FDA updated its definition of “tobacco product” to include non-tobacco nicotine products. R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. can continue to sell two mint-flavored Vuses that were subject to a sales denial order (MDO) after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay. Argentina bans the import and sale of ENDS products. Former CTP director Mitch Zeller has joined the advisory board of Qnovia, a "platform pharma" company developing a prescription inhaled smoking cessation treatment.

April

Malaysia has removed nicotine-containing e-liquids from e-cigarettes and other vaping products from the country's list of toxic substances. Green Bank Technology has closed a $16.5 million Series B funding round, with its "strategic investment group" including Bat-invested Canadian cannabis producer Organigram Holdings. Vuse's U.S. market share rose from 41.5%, while Juul's market share fell to 26.1%. Altria's teen marketing lawsuit in California begins. The UK has announced plans to provide free e-cigarette starter packs to one million smokers to encourage them to give up tobacco products. Juul Labs has settled youth marketing lawsuits with six states, bringing the total number of state settlements to 45 states and totaling more than $1 billion. Panama has rejected a proposal to regulate e-cigarette products. London's High Court has ruled that Philip Morris Products' patent protecting its tobacco heating technology is valid. Delaware becomes the 22nd state in the United States to pass a recreational marijuana bill. Altria's teen marketing lawsuit in California begins.

May

Australia has announced that it will ban the import of all over-the-counter e-cigarette products, including those that do not contain nicotine. Reynolds sent letters to several small e-cigarette shops threatening to sue them if they did not stop selling flavored e-cigarette products. A British report shows prisoners spend more than £7 million ($8.5 million) a year on e-cigarettes. Logic Technologies challenges FDA marketing denial of its menthol e-cigarette product. Altria Group has reached a $235 million agreement to end a California lawsuit that accused the company of marketing e-cigarette products to young people. Flonq launches the world's first fully recyclable e-cigarette device - Flonq Plus-E. Yolanda Richardson succeeds Matthew Myers as president of Tobacco-Free Kids. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued "Import Alert 98-06" to detain new tobacco products such as e-cigarettes without border sales permission. Altria completes acquisition of Njoy.

June

Hawaii law makes it a misdemeanor to transport e-cigarettes and other tobacco products worth more than $10,000. ANDS launches Slix, a disposable e-cigarette that is said to be 99.29% recyclable.

Bidi Vapor ships first batch of Bidi Sticks to over 900 Kwik Trip and Mapco locations.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the FDA was justified in refusing to allow Magellan Technologies to market its flavored e-cigarette products.

The FDA issued warning letters to 189 retailers for selling unauthorized tobacco products, specifically the Elf Bar and Esco Bars brands. Zanzibar bans the use and import of vaping products. CTP announced that it has made significant progress in putting the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s recommendations-based improvement plan into action.

July

Juul Labs is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the sale and import of its Njoy Ace vapor device, claiming the product infringes on multiple Juul patents. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission dismissed a complaint against Njoy parent company Altria Group for acquiring a 35% stake in Juul Labs after Altria exited. New York City charges Magellan Technology Inc., Ecto World LLC (Demand Vape), Mahant Krupa 56 LLC (Empire Vape Distributors) and Star Vape Corp. with fraud for selling illegal e-cigarette flavors. Jason Carignan switches to Chemular. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration awarded The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center $3.9 million to evaluate the impact of e-cigarette flavors on smoking behaviors among current adult smokers. Philip Morris International has acquired Israeli company Syqe Medical for approximately $650 million. Juul Labs submitted a PMTA for the Juul 2 system to the U.S. FDA. China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration issued guidelines for e-cigarette exports. Gastroenterology Research retracts a study linking nicotine e-cigarettes to liver disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued more warning letters regarding the sale of Esco Bar and Elf Bar. In the first half of 2023, China’s e-cigarette exports will exceed US$3.36 billion.

August

Ukraine imposes excise tax on disposable e-cigarettes. Venezuela bans all vaping products. The Philippines passed a law forcing importers of raw materials for e-cigarette products to seek special clearances. High Light Vape, a company that sells vape pens disguised as highlighters, has come under fire from the media. Njoy asked the ITC to ban the import and sale of certain Juul products. New Zealand has introduced new regulations to restrict the use of e-cigarettes by teenagers. The Asia-Pacific Alliance of Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates has released a shadow report on the failure of the World Health Organization's tobacco harm reduction strategy. Juul Labs announced a corporate restructuring aimed at reducing operating costs. Romania bans flavors in heated tobacco products. Suriname bans the sale of all e-cigarette products. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with Fontem U.S.A. in a ruling that the FDA failed to conduct a proper analysis before denying marketing applications for some e-cigarette products.

September

The British Electronic Cigarette Industry Association has announced that it will exclude tobacco companies from its membership. Indonesia legalizes e-cigarettes. The maker of Esco Bars has filed a lawsuit against the FDA over an import ban on its product. Vaposso becomes the first authorized company to sell open systems in the UAE. New York State Opens State Marijuana License to Public. The FDA issued warning letters to 15 companies selling products under the Elf Bar, EB Design, Lava, Cali, Bang and Kangertech brand names. A fire has destroyed the factory of British e-cigarette and hardware brand Dinner Lady. Spiire announced that its cannabis and tobacco e-cigarette product revenue increased by 100.4% and 10.9% respectively in fiscal 2023. Healthy Choices Management Corp. is suing R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. for royalties from sales of its Vuse Alto e-cigarette pens, chargers and prefilled e-cigarette pods, alleging the products A patent was infringed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has imposed civil penalties on 22 retailers for illegally selling Elf Bar/EB Design products.

October

Philip Morris International launches LEVIA, a zero-tobacco stick for its IQOS heat-not-burn device. A new study, "The Impact of E-Cigarette Flavor Restrictions on Tobacco Product Sales," found that flavor bans boosted sales of traditional combustible cigarettes. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has proposed a final tobacco plan. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Avail Vapor's arguments against the FDA's regulatory authorization process. ECigintelligence reports that disposable e-cigarettes account for nearly 40% of the global e-cigarette market. American Vaping Association ceases operations; Greg Conley joins American Vaping Manufacturers Association. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration refuses to issue a marketing order for flavored Vuse Alto pods. Elf Bar changed its name to fight the U.S. import ban. Njoy filed suit against 34 domestic and foreign manufacturers, distributors and online retailers of illegal disposable e-cigarette products. Logic Technology Development has lost a court appeal to stop the FDA's ban on the company's mint-flavored pods. The Czech Republic bans flavors in heated tobacco products. Altria said the boom in the illegal disposable flavored e-cigarette market has caused a significant decline in sales of its licensed e-cigarette products.

November

Italy's Lazio Regional Administrative Court (TAR) has suspended a decree that would make CBD oil a narcotic substance until January 16, 2024. According to Straits Research, the global e-cigarette market will be worth US$93.94 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 16.27% from 2022 to 2030. BAT announced a $90.5 million investment in Organigram. Ohio becomes the 24th state in the United States to allow adult non-medical use of marijuana. United Nations research shows that toys create a much larger amount of e-waste than vaping products. The FDA has once again issued warning letters to online retailers for selling single-use products from brands such as Elf Bar, EB Design, Bang, Cali Bars and Lava. The 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was postponed, officially due to unrest in the host country Panama.

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control released a nearly 4-year-old
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