Predicting the black market in e-cigarettes

by Carl V Phillips

The anti-tobacco movement is fundamentally dishonest and unethical, and it is also led by minimally-skilled people who isolate themselves in an echo chamber that avoids scientific review.  As a result, it is frequently difficult to determine whether one of their false scientific claims is an intentional lie or blatant ignorance.  Most of their epidemiologic claims seem to fall into the former category.  But most of their economics-related lies seem to stem from an utter failure to understand even first-semester level economics.  Snowdon and I (mostly at EP-ology including a few days ago, but also on the present blog) have documented this extensively.

One of their fundamental failures in this area is the apparent belief that — contrary to all we know from the results of the Drug War, to say nothing of all other observations of supply and demand — that bans will eliminate supply even when there is huge demand.  One critical appearance of this ignorance relates to the current U.S. FDA draft regulation of e-cigarettes.  FDA has clearly made no attempt to consider what the real — as opposed to fantasy idealized — results of their proposed e-cigarette ban would be.  It is not difficult to understand that there will be a continuing market in e-cigarettes — mostly not actually “black” despite the shorthand in the title.

As has been extensively documented by CASAA (based on what is effectively an out-and-out admission of the point by FDA), the proposed regulations would allow for FDA approval of only a dozen or two of the e-cigarette products now on the market, which are probably on the order of 100,000.  The potentially approved products are cigalikes made by the largest manufacturers, which are dispreferred by experienced vapers and are not as effective at promoting smoking cessation as higher-quality products.

So what happens to the others?  FDA seems to want their ANTZ friends to believe they will disappear, though I am guessing that FDA knows better.  But they do not seem to have really thought it through, or they do not care about the real consequences.

The standard ANTZ lie is that the market for tobacco products is created by the suppliers and not by demand.  For anyone not living in that bizarro fantasy world, it should be apparent that continuing demand will result in continuing supply.  The reality is that the products that exist now will continue to exist, and will result in a market that is far less regulated and safe than the current situation.

The nature of the continuing market

It is not difficult to predict the response to the proposed de facto ban by manufacturers and consumers.  There are many smokers who will be denied the opportunity to quit due to the restriction in the open and legal market for higher-quality e-cigarettes.  But there are hundreds of thousands of dedicated vapers already using refillable component systems in the USA, and there will be many more before the de facto ban takes effect after more than two years.  Some will switch to the handful of cigalike products that can pass the paperwork burdens to get FDA approval (assuming FDA grants any approvals), but many – probably most – will not be interested in this lower-quality and more expensive option.  They will have no difficulty in continuing to do what they do now, because this huge demand will continue to attract supply.

The continuing market for e-cigarettes in the USA, under the proposed regulations, will contrast with the minimal markets for banned or almost-banned low-risk tobacco products, such as snus in the European Union (EU).  In the case of snus in the EU, the product is easily available for consumers who seek it, but the ban does appear to have reduced awareness and has kept this low-risk alternative from becoming popular among subpopulations who did not use it traditionally.  By contrast, e-cigarettes are already very popular in the USA, there is an established strong social network associated with them, and there is near universal awareness of them.  Moreover, because the proposed regulation is a backdoor ban that only regulates sales, and not a full-on ban that criminalizes acquisition, usage, or manufacture (absent sales), there will be no stigma or legal exposure in continuing to use and discuss the products openly.

CTP (FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products) statements have made it clear that they do not believe FDA has the authority to regulate, under the TCA, e-cigarette liquids that do not contain nicotine (or other chemicals derived from tobacco plants).  We concur with this reading.  Thus, current manufacturers of the liquid will be able to continue to make and market zero-nicotine versions of their current products.  Unless additional legislation is passed to enable FDA to regulate these products, perhaps as foods, FDA appears to have no authority to limit the variety of available flavors (which is good for the consumer) nor to regulate what ingredients can be used (which is potentially bad for the consumer if it is ever discovered that particular ingredients create a substantial health risk).  Given that many manufacturers have acquired industry-specific skills and infrastructure, and have developed brand equity in the sector, it is inevitable that many will stay in the market on this basis, though most will be forced to dramatically downsize because they can no longer openly sell nicotine-containing liquid, the majority of their business.

CTP has been rather more ambiguous about whether they will attempt to assert authority over e-cigarette hardware that is sold independently of the liquid.  But it is clear that hardware manufacturers will have the easy option, given that zero-nicotine liquid will continue to be legally sold:  They can continue to market their products, duly labeling them as “not for use with nicotine-containing liquids.”  It seems unlikely that, should CTP attempt to exert jurisdiction over such products when they do not have authority over nicotine-free liquid, the courts will uphold it.  It seems unlikely that such sales could be prevented on the basis that some of the hardware is being diverted to use with nicotine-containing liquid (compare: the inability to ban products which were clearly designed to smoke cannabis because they were sold under the transparent fiction of being tobacco smoking devices).  Moreover, ironically, since most e-cigarette hardware components can be used for vaping increasingly-legal cannabis, this will create an additional safe-haven for hardware sales, and also ensures that the powerful cannabis lobby will join vapers in opposing new laws that restrict hardware sales.

Thus, the components of open-system e-cigarettes will continue to be legally sold outside the jurisdiction of FDA.  It is difficult to imagine that consumers will be criminalized for repurposing the hardware for the legal act of vaping nicotine, and such a law would be unenforceable in any case, for several obvious reasons.

That leaves only the nicotine solution, which can easily be supplied in any of several different ways.

The first option is the inevitable black market for the same e-cigarette liquid varieties that are available now.  Given the large number of tiny domestic manufacturers that exist and have local distribution networks, and the social networking surrounding vaping, there is no doubt that this will exist.  It would be easy for such small manufacturers to stockpile years’ worth of nicotine, and probably not much harder to continue to untraceably acquire it.  Foreign manufacturers — existing or new — who are not seeking FDA approvals and are in jurisdictions where the U.S. FDA has little influence would have no incentive to not ship to US consumers.  The products are sufficiently inexpensive that the risk of Customs seizure would be tolerable.  The supply chain for black market e-cigarette liquid would be easier to operate than that for popular banned drugs, products which are easily available to consumers who seek them, and distribution would be similar.  The risks involved would be less than for suppliers of those other products, given that possession would be legal and the draconian anti-drug punishments would be unlikely to be replicated for e-cigarette liquid.  However, there would still be some risk, and thus prices would rise to compensate suppliers for this.

The second possibility involves legal sales of an approved liquid.  It is possible that FDA would never approve any refillable e-cigarette.  If such approval were granted, however, the approved liquid would be available for repurposing.  It would almost certainly be offered in an unflavored variety and this would create a secondary market in flavored (zero-nicotine) liquids that were designed to be mixed with it to achieve the desired flavor level in the mixture.  For those who did not want to dilute the nicotine concentration of the approved product, concentrated flavor drops or do-it-yourself flavor mixing would be options.

A hybrid version of these two market possibilities is a black market in unflavored nicotine solution, with nicotine concentrations that are optimized for easy mixing with legal zero-nicotine liquids.  The equivalent products are already sold for do-it-yourself mixing.

The third method, which would be impossible to stop, is do-it-yourself nicotinization of the liquid or full-on do-it-yourself manufacture.  A year’s supply of nicotine for a typical vapor is in the order of 10 g., which is about two teaspoons.  This would be trivial to distribute and stockpile, or smuggle if necessary.  Smuggling would apparently not be necessary, given that pure nicotine is not a controlled substance, and does not appear to fall under the current proposed regulation since it is unsuitable for vaping without further processing.  While nicotine manufacturers are unlikely to enter this business, it would be trivial for some of their corporate customers to stock up and divert the nicotine to the consumer market.  If nicotine remains legal, the logistics are simpler, but a ban would be a fairly minor obstacle.  While the process for mixing the highest-quality (and safest) e-cigarette liquid requires artistry and engineering skill, mixing e-cigarette liquid can be done at home by most anyone with easily-available ingredients.  It already occurs to a sufficient extent to provide proof of concept.

Consequences of the new market for e-cigarette products

The result of the de facto ban of the legal e-cigarette market will be less regulation and greater risk than currently exists, and would also prevent many of the benefits that might come from good and proper regulation.

First, to take the most obvious concern, the do-it-yourself manufacture or mixing will create more direct and immediate health risks.  Thousands of vapers possessing and handling pure nicotine would dramatically increase the accidental poisoning hazard posed by e-cigarettes.  Despite the engineered hype about poisonings that exists now, the current risk is very close to zero due to the very low toxicity of e-cigarette liquid.  That would not be the case for pure nicotine.  There is even interest in do-it-yourself extraction of nicotine from tobacco leaf.  Although most consumers who are toying with this idea will abandon it when they discover how difficult it is and how easy it is to access the black market, any attempts will further increase the health risks caused by the regulation.

As is typical for prohibitions of drugs that people choose to use, the do-it-yourself market presents far greater risks of accidental overdose than a legal market would.  There is no formal quality control and the risk of badly erring in proportions is much greater due to the small quantities and lack of experience.  Once again, one of the frequently hyped engineered concerns — that nicotine concentrations sometimes vary from what the consumer intends to use — would be dramatically exacerbated by the supposed solution.  Moreover, with tens of thousands of people mixing their own liquids, it is inevitable that some will try adding ingredients that no reputable manufacturer would use, and that would increase health risks.

Second, the existing de facto regulatory system, which has proven quite effective so far, would be hugely eroded.  The current rhetoric about “there is no regulation” or that the e-cigarette market is “the wild west” (which is also historically inaccurate) ignores not only the many command-and-control regulations that already do apply to these products, but also the fact that regulation of consumer goods comes substantially from brand equity and, in the USA, from the civil liability system.  The benefits of these regulations would be dramatically reduced in the world that would be created by the proposed regulations.

For obvious reasons, full-on black marketeers gain limited benefit from building brand equity.  They have obvious incentives to not use consistent branding, and the value of their reputation is capped by their need to stay small enough to escape serious scrutiny.  They are almost impossible to sue should something go wrong.  But even manufacturers of hardware or liquid products for the legal shadow repurposing market will lose some of these de facto regulations for similar reasons.

Even as the FDA approval process favors only the largest companies, the evolving market will almost certainly favor very small domestic producers over the existing medium-sized domestic manufacturers that tend to have better quality-control.  Existing medium-sized e-cigarette liquid companies who stay in operation will lose the large part of their business that is nicotine-containing liquids, which will force downsizing and cost cutting.  The regulations will create a climate of risk for manufacturers — obviously for the black marketeers, but also for the shadow markets where there will be constant fear of new regulation or government enforcement actions, which are still financially devastating even when they are unlawful.  This will discourage investment in the physical facilities and brand equity that lead to higher-quality and safer products.  There will also be a reasonable fear that greater size will attract more scrutiny.

Thus, most of the de facto regulatory protection that is now in place will be lost, with no apparent offsetting benefit.  Manufacturers that are currently motivated and able to produce higher-quality products will be disadvantaged compared to fly-by-night producers who can simply disappear if something goes wrong.  The market for manufacture and distribution will favor those with high risk-tolerance or financial desperation, as with the illicit drug market, rather than more desirable skills and traits.

Finally, the establishment of a thriving black and shadow market will likely make future regulation more difficult and less effective.  A time may come when a beneficial regulatory regime — one that is designed to benefit consumers by improving quality rather than hurt them by removing options, as the present proposal does — is enabled and enacted.  But by then, regulated legal manufacturers will have to compete against an established black and shadow market which consumers have become accustomed to using, and which will probably be able to maintain lower prices by avoiding taxes and regulatory paperwork.

For example, if it is ever discovered that particular flavoring ingredients cause needless substantial health risk, a sensible regulatory system could forbid those ingredients in all e-cigarette liquid (with or without nicotine).  But if such regulation is attempted after the currently proposed regulation creates a black and shadow market, it is likely that many manufacturers would ignore it.  What is worst, if such a discovery were made today, the suppliers who represent the vast majority of sales volume would voluntarily stop using the ingredient because they are respectable companies who care about their customers and their reputations.  This effective self- and community-regulation would be severely weakened by the proposed regulations, which would largely replace the reputable companies with a black and shadow market.

To summarize, in just a few years, the market has evolved away from the “wild west” characterization that represents much of the motivation for the proposed regulation, and it continues to evolve in a direction that is good for consumers and public health.  The only apparent way to stop such evolution, and thus to bring about the out-of-control market that exists in the politicized mythology, is to impose a regulation like the current proposal.

So, what will you do?

For those readers who are dedicated vapers, it is interesting to ask yourself what you would do in the world created by these regulations:

  1. Use the regulated mass-market cigalike products that FDA approves?
  2. Vape zero-nicotine liquid?
  3. Return to smoking?
  4. Switch to another nicotine source like snus, and perhaps continue to vape zero-nicotine liquid?
  5. Continue to buy hardware and buy the liquid you want on the black market?
  6. Continue to buy hardware and try to make your own liquid, by adding pure nicotine to zero-nicotine liquid, or from scratch?

[P.S. It turns out the date this was posted was coincidence; it was a point in an ongoing process that just happened to be reached today.  But it is remarkably fitting.  Happy Independence Day, everyone.]

[Update:  A few additional observations I omitted, to make sure they do not get lost in future version of this.  The black/shadow market will continue to innovate to improve the quality of the products.  However, because of the noted constraints that discourage trying to grow to a medium-sized company, there will not be so much of this.   It will probably pick up more on the current trend toward gimmicks (“ooh! pretty pretty clouds!”), and comparatively neglect the current trend toward safer products.

Second, it should be noted that FDA bangs on about their vague “how it affects the entirely public’s health” standard under which, for example, they ask MRTP applicants to try to figure out how many additional people will use a product if they learn it poses very low risk.  This is all about people not just doing “what they are supposed to” in response to changes, but what else might happen also.  They talk about it in the context of this regulation.  But they clearly have completely ignored that consideration when designing their own policies.]

37 responses to “Predicting the black market in e-cigarettes

  1. Norbert Zillatron

    Well, for me it’s either 3, 5, or 6. I never wantet to quit. I switched to vaping because it simply tastes so much better.

    Here in the EU we face about the same absurdities. Some are even worse. But the battle continues. Although it’s steeply uphill, we won’t give up. Our last hope is the european citizens initiative EFVI http://www.efvi.eu/

    That’s not just “another online petition”. That’s the heavy stuff. We need ONE MILLION verifiable signatures from european citizens. If you know anyone in Europe, please ask them to sign and spread the word.

  2. Pingback: Predicting The Black Market in E-cigarettes | The Spinfuel Network

  3. Pingback: From the Good Doctor: Predicting the Black Market in E-Cigarettes

  4. Reblogged this on jredheadgirl and commented:
    Happy Independence Day Everyone!
    If you have not already seen this floating around out in the blogosphere, here is yet another pointed and sensible post from Carl V Phillips @ Anti-THR Lies-

  5. Well said, Carl. I have COPD and vaping has saved me from having it get worse by allowing me to quit smoking easily and pleasurably.

    If the FDA persists in its path to effectively banning vaping through oppressive regulation I will take option 5 and continue to buy hardware and buy the liquid I want on the black market or import Grant’s awesome Vanilla Custard and other flavors from abroad.

  6. And there’s another danger if they make it difficult to get nicotine.
    I’ve already had to correct two people saying they would use pesticide who didn’t seem to know what they were talking about and were thinking neonicotinoid pesticides would be OK and a third who did seem to know what he was looking for but doesn’t believe there is a difference between pesticide quality nicotine and pharmaceutical quality nicotine.

    But of course like with the War on Drugs any poisonings because of the law (or because of the government adding poisons like with alcohol during Prohibition or paraquat under Carter) will simply be held up as proof of the dangers.
    But more and more people are getting tired of sticking their heads in the sand and believing the government didn’t know the obvious results of their actions.
    Even when it’s not directly from the government, like PCP laced marijuana, the blame goes to the government for banning a safe supply.

  7. I’m sure you know, but the EU TPD also has clauses designed to prevent any discussion of the benefits of vaping as well. So, in effect attempting to band online forums. right, I’m sure that’ll work.

  8. All of this prediction will make ANTZ happy, make the FDA and CDC happy, make BT and BP happy, and make city councils happy all over the country or world. Evil nicotine users will die. Smokers will see the danger and continue paying tobacco taxes and MSA money. Bureaucracies will get increased funding and power to fight the new dangers, which they accurately predicted, so they must be competent, right? The DEA will have work for their former Marijuana enforcement agents. And, MOST important of all, all of the above people will continue to have someone to bully one way or another. Even if there is a successful black market, they will have forced law-abiding people to become non-law-abiding, therefore having to slink back into the closet instead of proudly proclaiming ourselves free. Just like making African-Americans go back to using separate drinking fountains, or LGBT people go back to never holding hands or taking pictures with wedding cake. The REAL motive is bullying, simply knowing you can make someone else feel and act inferior, and a black market is not inconsistent with bullying.

    • Carl V Phillips

      Even given my opening to this post, some of that is too cynical for me. But I totally agree about the larger ramifications of making many law-abiding people into criminals or borderline criminals. That is definitely worth adding to the list of harms.

      • Actually, as much as it sounds like cynicism, it’s not. More like despair. I just listened to that great BBC radio presentation, and “got it” — I’m not claiming that ALL of those people are conscious of a desire to bully. Some are clearly as accustomed to having SOMEONE to demonize as many “well-meaning” racists and homophobes who view themselves are reasonable people. But listening to that Welsh lady speak, I suddenly “got it” that if EVERYBODY quit smoking and switched to vaping, but vaped in public without shame, that would be a tragedy for her. Even if nobody ever died from nicotine again for all time. For her, the ickiness would continue and she’d be powerless to stop it. Powerlessness is a horrible feeling, people will do just about anything to avoid that.

        • Carl V Phillips

          I should clarify that the bits that were a bit too cynical for me were those about the authorities relishing the manufacture of a new “evil” to get richer and make themselves seem useful. On the other hand, that worked amazingly for them with al Qaida et al., and it is hard to say there is such a thing as overly cynical in a county that did that.

          As for the bit about anti-smokers and ANTZ being just like racists and homophobes, I totally agree with that. I have noted that in my writings numerous times. These are people who are just wired to hate, but they are too cowardly to direct their hate in a potentially productive direction, against someone who might push back. So like racists and homophobes in cultures where that is accepted, they join the mob in picking on the weak. Of course, they miscalculated badly when they decided to take on THR users and supporters, and they are floundering and desperate in the face of the resulting Stonewall.

  9. (” The anti-tobacco movement is fundamentally dishonest and unethical, and it is also led by minimally-skilled people who isolate themselves in an echo chamber that avoids scientific review. As a result, it is frequently difficult to determine whether one of their false scientific claims is an intentional lie or blatant ignorance. Most of their epidemiologic claims seem to fall into the former category. ” )

    It appears Mr Phillip that most if not all that are educated on tobacco and the tobacco industry are anti-tobacco; Including myself. The difference from the above described however , is the fact I am a single voice amongst millions now who has had the opportunity to try ” vaping ” as an alternative to smoking. I liked it and I will continue to ” vape” no matter the outcome of deemed regulations. For the record, I just turned 65 in February and had started using an electronic device ( e-cig or e-puffer) September 1 2013 . I opened my mind enough to understand I had for a couple years prior labeled them as targeting new smokers. Those being the ones I found in local smoke shops and sold by I don’t know who but assumed it was big tobacco companies. ( I was wrong about both assumptions come to find out) Here in Canada I could not find one with nicotine locally. It was only after online searches that I started realizing the potential this simple but ingenious device could have for me.

    Ten months has past since my Initiation into ” vaping” without ever once having to smoke. I don’t believe I have to mention all the benefits I personally have experienced since I quit smoking. Many hundreds of thousands who pioneered and documented the experience have accomplished this for me. They have shared it and they have evidently researched endlessly, in spite of all the stigmatized and biased opinions cast upon them. It seems the smoker has finally found and escape from the endless sufferings that smoking has proven to cause for so many.

    To conclude my understanding of your well written article I wish to ask a few questions and make a couple of notes I now experience on a daily basis. My question is ” Now that I no longer “smoke” does that not provide me the same rights as those non-smokers rights activist ? I keep hearing the terms ” BAN and REGULATE or GATEWAY back to smoking or Initiate new smokers through vaping. What is all this? Does the stigmitization of the smoker not end when they quit? Is it like a felony conviction? People just don’t change? Is my sense of taste permanetly suppose to be ….gone? Am I suppose to stop vaping also in order to carry the message to the smoker? Quit or Die! mentality? Again….don’t we all have rights or is the smoker so shamed to society as to dwell in the misery of torn families with COPD, cancer and many other smoking related illnesses as they brunt the blame for a failed solution? And…for my final question; where is health care in all this debate? What have they been doing in research? Why are activist seemingly spearheading the derogatory and misinformation instead of health care? Where are they? What is the real motive in mind?

    Fellow “vapers” suffering smoker, concerned family and friends. Please….help change the direction tobacco industry and anti-tobacco industry is leading us. I personally suffer with advanced emphysema and have had my life extended past the 3-6 months I was given last June if I do not stop smoking. I quit September 1 2013 . It’s still working and IMPROOF # 308 ( days since) Stand up for …. ” OUR RIGHTS ” in order we may help others to stop smoking. Thank you sincerly. Have a great day too.
    Thanks for this article Dr. Carl Phillips

  10. Early adopters used to MYO (mix your own) which lead to a variety of weird and wonderful flavours. It seems initial increases in vaping take up occurred after these flavours became available via the retailers. Hardware improvements came later. MYOers preferred dripping to give better flavour and this also drove the hardware.

    MYO is quite easy though inconvenient. Nicotine solution, as you say, is an issue although (imho) zero nic was always going to be the issue regulators were going to have problems with.

    The genie is out of the bottle and all regulation will do is bring out the entrepreneurial spirit.

  11. Here in Australia, we face similar pressures. As well as attempts by the State Governments trying to ban Ecigarette hardware. Not on any reason of health risks, but because ecigs resemble tobacco products under a rule that was brought in to ban cigarette and cigar lollies and toys.

    • Carl V Phillips

      I think you mean “resemble cigarettes”. In any case, yes, I am aware of that. But in the USA, there seem to be no laws that restrict hardware (assuming it meet standards for battery safety and such), and there is basically no chance they will be passed at the national level, and very few states — if any — would do it. I would be interested to hear about how the black market is dealing with the situation there.

      • Here in Aus. sadly most of us at the moment import nicotine either as a concentrate (though usually no more than 100mg strength which is mostly ignored by customs as long as it appears to be for personal use. http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/qld-man-fined-for-selling-e-cigarettes/story-e6frfku9-1226984769775.

        Some states allow the sale of ecigarettes at the moment. But we are awaiting the fallout of the current situation in Western Australia.

        While 0 mg eliquid is being tolerated to an extent in some states , in states like Queensland, they threaten ecig sellers that if their goods are seized and tested, even 0mg labeled eliquid if is shown to have any trace of Nic’ the seller would be charged.

        We are finding some Overseas (mainly USA), sellers are now banning sales to Aus’ for fear of being charged or having the products seized by customs on arrival here. Some customers here are having things like Vamo tube mods seized on the pretext that they are Lazer Pointers, and it can take months to grudgingly sort out such issues.

        But marketing of nic’ at any strength is brought to court, when they catch sellers. In certain states the authorities are actively discouraging sellers with threats of court cases. Which is rather interesting considering Aussie authorities claim nicotine is a schedule 7 poison (level of arsenic and strychnine) when stories are now coming out eliquid is probably more at the level of Dishwashing liquid http://www.ecita.org.uk/blog/index.php/how-toxic-is-e-liquid/.

        AT the moment Vince in Western Australia has till the 15th of July to announce an Appeal to the High Court for his conviction over there, or other states like Queensland who have put in place similar amendments to their laws against lollies & toys and now objects that are like cigarettes. Will no doubt start pushing this ban.

        Which does bring up an interesting question, If ecigs are banned because they resemble a cigarette, which surely means they are not a cigarette/tobacco product. Then how can they stop anyone under no smoking rules if they vape in public.

        • Carl V Phillips

          Thanks for that — very informative. I would be interested in learning more.

          It is certainly more of a problem to have a functioning shadow market when there is an out-and-out ban, and it appears the stakes are high for the full-on black marketeers. I find it difficult to imagine something similar happening in the USA, since the products will not be banned per se. That is part of the reason our proposed regulation is practically purpose-built to facilitate a shadow market.

          Anyway, sounds awful. Bad governance.

          Just to clarify, pure nicotine sufficiently poisonous to require substantial care when you handle it. The 10% concentration you mention is not nearly such a big deal, but should still be treated with some caution. It is the liquid as actually used — down in the 2% concentration range — that is similarly hazardous to dish soap.

        • But the authorities all over, never differentiate between those levels especially in public statements sadly, it is even at the premix levels of .06 to 2.4% that authorities keep harping on that it is still so toxic supposedly

        • Black market for me. There is nothing to stop agricultural companies importing vaping quality nicotine for use as an “insecticide”. Everything else can be imported in parts. I am really stunned by what is happening and the willful ignorance displayed by so-called experts.

  12. I’m so deep into this culture, I’d have no problem getting away with #5.

  13. The Best E-Cig Blog (@BestECigBlog)

    Wow. This is everything I have been thinking about the “black” market but with so much more information and written so well. Fantastic work…this needs to be read by everyone.

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  15. joanne stokley

    I have to admit that I have given this some thought as it becomes increasingly apparent to me that big tobacco will potentially become the sole distributor of fda approved ecig products. The underground will become real. Kitchen scientists will distill home made nicotine products increasing the danger to users.

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  17. I’d like to see this as a poll. I think many participating in the regulatory debate seriously under estimate the backlash against tobacco companies coming from vapers (and current smokers), me included. One of the joys of vaping has been not turning my money over to arrogant corporations that feel entitled to dominate and profit from nicotine. Not for one split second will I ever believe my health is their concern over stock holder profits.

    That is a very important difference from the current market. The devices and eliquids now available have been directed by a sincere desire to get smokers off cigarettes. The community that’s developed around vaping reminds me of 12 step groups in that past users are driven to help current users to find their path away from an addictive substance, in this case, the harm from combustionable tobacco products.

    I don’t see those goals being compatible with tobacco or pharmaceutical products and if anything, the reverse; it would be in their best interests to continue the addiction with their products used as substitutes to the point of slipping in ingredients without much concern for overall harm. I think we can us some of the additional addictives in cigarettes as examples (ammonia?).

    Many of these regulatory agencies and supporters have done everything possible to ignore that even second and third generation devices exist for that reason above. Somewhere along the chain of authority there is some one that recognizes that tobacco cigalikes can’t co-exist with products developed that actually do support quitting altogether. But I think that’s why regulations were developed to make those products illegal and the ones that promote dual use were supported.

  18. Pingback: Turning the tables on public health – let’s talk about the risks *they* create « The counterfactual

  19. Excellent Carl – a masterpiece and very educational… but I think there is a 7th option in your final list. This is the naive preference of the crypto-prohibitionists behind all this: “because you can no longer legally obtain it in the form you like, cease using nicotine altogether”.

    My take is that we THR advocates need to be more assertive about the health risks that the Antis and their friends in regulators create, including in creation of black markets… I’ve put down a few ideas here: Turning the tables on public health – let’s talk about the risks *they* create

    • Carl V Phillips

      Well, I suppose it is also possible that people would emigrate to somewhere with sensible policies, but I decided to leave out highly costly and far-fetched options like that and becoming abstinent.

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  21. 6 for me.
    I’ve already got a decent stock of nicotine… enough to last me about 7 years at my current mg/ml…

    and I have no plans of stopping there.

  22. Pingback: CASAA - First Call to Prepare for FDA Proposed Regulations - My Vapor Site

  23. MYO folks will require a solid nicotine test kit to ensure proper end result mixing proportions in my view.

    • Norbert Zillatron

      Not really. The only number that should be rather good is the content of the nicotine base.

      The rest is really simple math. When you got 50 ml of 36 mg/ml base and mix it with 50 ml pure base (PG/VG) you get 100 ml of 18 mg/ml base. Adding typically 2% to 5% flavoring will not dilute it significantly.

      You don’t really need much precision. A slight variation of +/- 10 % of the target value will make no difference. When you get much more than desired, you’ll find the effect immediately unpleasent. If the nicotine level is much too low, you’ll soon feel something missing.
      E.g I usually vape about 18 mg/ml. I don’t consciously feel any difference with 16-20 mg/ml.
      It doesn’t knock me out to vape 24 or 36. But I don’t like to vape it for long.
      Of course I can always vape 0-12. But then I would be vaping more often than I like, to get to the nicotin level that feels best.

      • Carl V Phillips

        As a public service, I feel a need to note something that is probably obvious to most everyone: As noted, variations in the quantity of flavor added to a nicotine solution make no important difference in the nicotine flavoring when it is down in the range of adding 5% of the original volume. However, if you are adding pure or highly concentrated nicotine to a flavor solution, an error of 50% changes the concentration by 50%, and an error of 300% (not out of the question when working with tiny quantities)….

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