The following is a post penned by RolyGate*. All opinions are solely those of the author.
I asked a number of fellow bloggers to share with me their vision of the future, particularly where it relates to regulations that might limit the industry we know and love today. The following are the responses I got from RolyGate and felt they needed to live free as their own post instead of edited down to a soundbite for the article I’ll be publishing next week.
I think it likely that both in the EU and USA we are going to be looking at restrictions of some kind, at some point in the future. It’s only logical – our opponents have the power and the money, and need to see us gone totally; the compromise that will result is inevitably that we lose something.
That’s just the way it is – you can’t expect that we get away without damage. Now, to guess what exactly we might lose, at this point in time, is impossible. You can bet, though, that they will get something and it won’t please us.
So, what exactly? I think there are already clues: the most effective refills (maybe over 20mg, maybe even over 6mg) and of course advertising. Now, the advertising issue is much worse than you think: it means that review sites and forums could be gone – as they will be classed as advertising. Try that one for size… (By ‘gone’ I mean that, since the revenue streams for those sites will dry up, many will shut down – just as a result of the economics, not specifically any legal issue.)
Our opponents need us gone for commercial reasons, and they will not be satisfied with minor wounds – they want crippling, mortal wounds. Every man’s hand is against us: Altria for example, a tobacco company who have bought into ecigs, are doing everything they can think of to kill off the independents: it’s a win-win game for them, after all: sell cigs, don’t sell e-cigs, see either one crippled = no difference, they sell more of the other. We have no friends with money, and few enough with any real power.
We *will* see restrictions. It will take them a couple of years to get something in place, but two years goes fast enough. What is the answer? Some of our operations will have to go offshore, in order that we can ensure they survive. It’s our duty to do that, no less. You have to be completely honest here and recognise that we are up against the total corruption of the health system (i.e. the process from legislation to enaction of public health measures), together with its current operation as a commercial revenue stream for certain key players.
When faced with that, you can quit or fight. Our moral duty is to fight; you can walk away from it or not. The ecig businesses will inevitably suffer, and jobs will go – it is impossible for this not to happen.
We need to find a way to keep the supply going for products they ban. Offshore sites, with offshore or clandestine distribution, maybe. One day we will have enough voters to reverse the corrupt laws; we have to survive until that day. The Swedish data gives us enough clues as to what will happen: we’ll get enough people in the end to make it a voting issue, and at that point we will see the damage reversed. That’s at least another 15 years or so.
The black market will be the largest the world has ever seen: it will eventually involve 60%+ of smokers, many buying on a daily basis. It will be so immense that newspapers will devote front page stories to it. It will easily be larger than any hard drugs black market.
It will be unique because it will be the first time the population has needed to go to the black market, on a wide scale, to buy safer products to keep them alive – the opposite of the usual situation.
You may remember RolyGate from his time running the show over at ECF. Nowadays he’s a pundit at large and can be found all over the net as an e-cigarette activist. You can also read his musings on his blog, e-Cigarette Politics.
* This is probably the first-ever guest post the author didn’t realize he wrote. I sent out a call to action for what people thought would happen if e-cigarettes were banned for my first article of 2014. Roly’s response sort of took on a life of its own, so I decided to give it its own article.