Some takeaways from the Wells Fargo Annual E-cigarette Conference

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Yesterday, ACSH s Ariel Savransky attended the 2nd Annual E-cig conference in New York City. Conference attendees included investors, industry leaders and public health and regulatory experts and discussion was centered on trends and opportunities in this category. Nine e-cigarette companies spoke about their innovative products, and a discussion followed each presentation on the benefits of e-cigarettes and implications of FDA regulation. There were two panel discussions, Public Health Panel Communication with Public on Vapor s Potential Benefits Key to Educate Consumers and Drive Adoption, and Regulatory Panel Some regulation is Valuable But Too Much Will Ultimately Diminish the Industry s Value Proposition. Some of the main takeaways, as summarized by Bonnie Herzog, Managing Director of Beverage, Tobacco and Convenient Store Research with Wells Fargo and organizer of this conference are:

  • The vapor industry continues it s evolution The only constant is change: The e-cigarette category is still a relatively new category and is in the early stages of innovation. As e-cigarettes continue to evolve based on consumer preference, they will continue to be a game changer.
  • The public health community will play a crucial role in properly educating the public and ultimately accelerating conversion of smokers to ecigs/vapor. Data is misrepresented in the public sphere leading to many misperceptions about the safety of e-cigarettes. There was also much debate surrounding flavored e-cigarettes.
  • Regulations by the FDA are necessary but should not be so onerous as to stifle innovation. Everyone was in agreement that e-cigarettes need to be regulated but they should not be regulated in the same way as tobacco products. Furthermore, regulators must ensure that regulation does not result in unintended consequences, most importantly, deterring addicted smokers from quitting their deadly habit.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, It was interesting to learn more about the evolving e-cigarette category and the many innovative companies entering the market. The intersection between public healthy and industry is extremely important in ensuring that the potential of e-cigarettes to help addicted smokers quit their deadly habit is fully realized. However, the discussion also illustrated that there is a long way to go, not only in terms of product innovation which was the main focus of many of the e-cigarette companies presentations, but also in changing how the public perceives e-cigarettes. As the public health panel pointed out, the perception is not necessarily positive and we need to work to make sure the messages being heard are those backed by science, not the alarmist sensationalism that often surrounds the e-cigarette discussion. And of course, the decisions made by the FDA on how to regulate e-cigarettes could potentially be a game changer, and not for the better depending on how stringent they are.