Development of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) has exceeded expectations and the global market looks likely to remain innovative and diverse – except where regulation holds it back.
That is the prognosis of Elise Rasmussen ten years after founding The Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum, which she still directs and which appears for its next incarnation in London next week.
“I never anticipated that the market would grow that quickly, and with that much variety. When cigalikes first came on the scene, they looked like being the future. Now, there is so much choice, I wouldn’t want to predict where the category will go next.”
For example, she says, “it’s quite possible that growth will come from a technological development not yet on the market.
“This is still a very young category, and I don’t think we have yet seen a consensus breaking out among consumers. It makes all the manufacturers’ jobs that much harder, in trying to predict a way forward.
More fragmented, more choice
“With the right regulatory framework in place, in five years’ time I think that reduced-risk products will have grown again and captured more of the overall share of the market, but I don’t think it will have consolidated in the way that we all think. If anything, it will be even more fragmented, and with even more choice.”
For instance, heated tobacco and e-cigarettes will likely “be co-existing happily” at least for the foreseeable future, Rasmussen believes.
But she fears regulation could hold this back in many jurisdictions.
In countries where ENDS have been banned, “innovation has ground, or will grind, to a halt. In other markets growth is slower than it was, and I largely put this down to a reactionary approach by regulators who mistakenly treat smoking and vaping the same.”
Indeed, a presentation to the event by ECigIntelligence’s Tim Phillips will focus on precisely the issue of ENDS bans around the world.
Says Rasmussen: “Of course, e-cigarettes need to be regulated, in order to protect consumers, but the category is still evolving, and technology is still developing. In another decade, the products we see on the shelves today will have evolved again, and regulators need to allow space for those improvements to take place.”
– ECigIntelligence staff