e-cigaretteElectronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are devices designed to release nicotine vapor without actually burning tobacco, thus, without smoke. They are battery operated devices which, in many cases, look like cigarettes but use a battery to produce heat which then atomizes the nicotine in a specially made cartridge. The liquid in the cartridge may contain flavorings such as cherry, mint, or cotton candy to name a few. Vaporizers are similar to e-cigarettes, except that instead of a disposable cartridge, the liquid is stored in either a refillable tank or a prefilled capsule.

E-cigarettes were first sold in 2007. By 2016, 35 million people worldwide vaped, a five-fold increase from 2011. According to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 10.8 million people in the United States vape. In contrast, the number of tobacco smokers worldwide numbered 1.11 billion in 2016 and in the United States, 37.8 million. These numbers aren’t exclusive. Researchers found that in the United States many users both vape and smoke traditional cigarettes.

While overall youth tobacco use dropped 20% from 2011 to 2017, e-cigarette use among high school students in the U.S. increased 900% from 2011 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In response, on September 12, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave several e-cigarette product manufacturers 60 days to formulate plans to reduce the use of their products by minors or have their products removed from the market. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated “e-cigarettes may present an important opportunity for adult smokers to transition off combustible tobacco products. But these public health opportunities are put at risk if all we do is hook another generation of kids on nicotine and tobacco products through alternatives like e-cigarettes.”

In November, a week before the deadline imposed in September, the FDA announced it would ban convenience store and gas station sales of all flavors of e-cigarette liquids except for tobacco, mint, and menthol. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that was signed into law in 2009 prohibits any restrictions to “the sale of any tobacco product in face-to-face transactions by a specific category of retail outlets.”1 As a result, lawsuits seeking to block the ban were predicted. A few days after the FDA announcement, Juul Labs announced a halt to all sales of its flavored e-cigarette liquid2 at brick-and-mortar stores throughout the United States, more than 19,000 locations, including those locations not a part of the FDA ban.

Today’s market size shows e-cigarette sales in the 52 weeks ended June 16, 2018, in the United States.3 In terms of dollar sales during the 4 weeks ended October 6, 2018, Juul Labs led with a 75% market share, followed by British American Tobacco (10%), Altria Group (6%) and Imperial Tobacco (6%). All other e-cigarette makers combined had a 5% share of the market. Globally, the market for e-cigarettes and related products is estimated to be worth $22.6 billion, up from $4.2 billion five years ago.

1 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Public Law 111-31, Sec. 906.d.3.A.i
2 Mango, cucumber, creme and fruit flavors.
3 Original source of data: Nielsen. Nielsen tracks sales at mass merchandisers and convenience stores.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2018
Market size: $1.96 billion
Sources: Angelica LaVito, “Popular E-Cigarette Juul’s Sales Have Surged Almost 800 Percent Over the Past Year,” CNBC, July 2, 2018, updated September 11, 2018 available online here; “Smoked Out,” The Economist, September 15, 2018, page 72; Teresa W Wang, et. al., “National and State-Specific Unit Sales and Prices for Electronic Cigarettes, United States, 2012-2016,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 2, 2018 available online here; Lisa Rapaport, “Almost One in 20 U.S. Adults Now Use E-Cigarettes,” Reuters, August 27, 2018 available online here; “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 24, 2018 available online here; Lora Jones, “Vaping – The Rise in Five Charts,” BBC, May 31, 2018 available online here; WHO Global Report on Trends in Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking 2000-2025 – Second Edition, World Health Organization, 2018 available online here; Emilie Ikeda, “E-Cigarettes Ubiquitous at Schools Despite All Efforts: ‘You Won’t Find a Kid in Georgia Who Hasn’t Vaped Before,'” Fox News Channel, June 7, 2018 available online here; “Differences Between E-Cigs and Vaporizers” available online here; Jayne O’Donnell, “FDA to Limit Sale of Sweet-Flavored E-Cigarettes in Hope of Curbing Teen Vaping ‘Epidemic’,” Lansing State Journal, November 9, 2018, updated November 10, 2018 available online here; “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act Table of Contents,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, January 7, 2018 available online here; Ashley Welch, “Juul to Halt Sales of Flavored E-Cigarettes in Retail Stores,” CBS News, November 13, 2018 available online here.
Original sources: Wells Fargo, Nielsen. Nielsen tracks sales at mass merchandisers and convenience stores.
Image source: Rolandmey, “e-cigarette-steam-evaporator-health-1881957,” Pixabay, December 5, 2016 available online here.