JAC Vapour were asked the following questions by The Wall Street Journal regarding the future of e-cigs against proposed regulation via the TPD in 2016 and the possibility of a black market emerging. Here are our answers.
Do you see much evidence of counterfeiting/illicit trade in e-cigarettes at present?
We do see a vast number of substandard products being sold without the necessary, accredited, certification being sold on-line and offline – for both hardware (batteries and chargers) and e-liquids, which only serves to discredit the industry. It also goes against existing EU regulations for electronic goods, which should have the necessary certification and safety usage information, similarly e-liquids should have child-proof lids and feature information about the risks and the amount of nicotine they contain. These regulations already exist, and as yet we see little evidence of effective policing against the sale of these products.
My reporting so far has suggested that increased regulation proposed for 2016 — which would likely see the price of e-cigarettes increase sharply — could have the effect of creating a black market. Do you agree/disagree? Please explain.
We believe that the proposed regulation for 2016 in the EU, the TPD, you mention is disproportionate and doesn’t benefit the end user in any way, the customer. By over regulating, for the sake of it, we may very well see a black market emerging.
Why? The TPD and the regulatory stipulations will increase production costs significantly which will in turn increase costs, curb innovation, mean fewer suppliers operate in the marketplace (creating a monopoly) and, as a consequence, a reduced product range which could result in either:
- Existing users or potential future users returning to/remaining with tobacco cigarettes (the known killer)
- Reputable e-cigarette retailers and manufactures in the UK, who comply with the overzealous restrictions and regulations, competing with e-cigarettes continuing to be produced outside the EU operating out with the new guidelines, or potentially with 'black market' e-cigarettes being produced illegitimately within the EU. Both of which set the industry back in terms of regulation – not forward, in a potentially hazardous manner.
The EU should focus on imposing and policing existing safety regulations, which all ECITA members already adhere to, before embarking on an ambitious programme to duplicate existing regulations that they already fail to enforce. The approach shows very little understanding of the product or its users and benefits absolutely no-one (neither the customer nor the retailer) without the necessary resource or understanding to govern the policy.
The industry must be allowed to grow and flourish, with proportionate and well thought through regulations that benefit and support the end user.
What sort of a threat would the development a black market pose to the e-cigarette industry?
We are trying very hard at the moment, as an industry, to create consistent guidelines. ECITA, our trade body, of which JAC Vapour are members, work very hard lobbying, creating, developing and pushing forward well thought through, knowledgeable, proposed proportionate regulations and guidelines on behalf of their members and the industry as a whole. The TPD threatens to throw out all this good work by potentially allowing a black market to emerge – which could mean:
- No quality controls
- No governance, policing or traceability
- Potentially harmful hardware and eliquid being purchased by the end user
- An uneven playing field, with cheaper, unregulated, products taking a larger proportion of the market share (remember, currently, many smokers switch to vaping, not just to stop smoking but for money saving reasons too), exactly the opposite of what proportionate regulation should achieve.
What sort of steps have you taken to guard against the problem?
JAC Vapour have always been pro-regulation, provided it’s well-informed and sensible. We do not want to be seen as operating in a 'cowboy' industry, there are many reputable brands who care deeply about their customers and what they sell to them.
JAC Vapour are relative dinosaurs in the market place; the brand was set up in 2010 to offer smokers a genuine alternative to tobacco cigarettes and quality and safety has always been at the forefront of our offering.
We joined ECITA in 2012 as a commitment to working with the trade association in the UK to ensure we, as a company and an industry, operate to a governed standard of excellence.
We continue to operate at the forefront of driving safety procedures and processes. We are audited twice yearly by the ECITA. All of our e-liquids are CHiP compliant, batch tested at source, batch tested a second time by ECITA and thirdly, also independently in UK labs to ensure customer safety.
Our batteries are also tested independently by ECITA and all JAC Vapour hardware (including chargers) are CE and ROHS certified. Our own manufactured designs, such as our SERIES-E model, are also TUV certified also (currently the SERIES E is the only TUV tested e-cigarette product on the market in the EU that we know of).
We continue to support working with ECITA and thus the government and trading standards to create a ‘kite mark’ equivalent standard for the industry. Customers need more education on the importance of only purchasing quality products. Nobody should purchase potentially unsafe products and should be made aware of the negative effects of doing so, to aid informed choices.
We believe that our large, loyal customer base place value on quality, performance and reliability and will continue to want the best and safest products available on the marketplace.