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The New State of Flavour and Regulation in US E-Vapour

April 2020

In 2019 and early 2020 the US e-vapour industry faced a variety of new challenges that threatened its rapid growth. The outbreak of vaping illness and broad concerns related to underage use led to closer scrutiny of manufacturers and legislative change. In response, the industry has modified its products and reprioritised alignment with public health goals. These developments in the US market are a harbinger of changes in the global e-vapour market.

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Key Findings

US vapour goes from unmitigated growth to existential challenges

E-vapour has been able to grow at high rates while cigarette volumes have faced continuous decline. However, youth vaping and vaping illness have drawn enormous attention, threatening the category’s growth in 2020 and beyond.

Major regulatory changes are having big impact…

Government actors enacted a variety of measures in 2019 aimed at responding to concern from advocacy groups, the media and general public over vaping. Many actions targeted limiting flavours in e-vapour products.

… and more are on the way

2020 will see the FDA continue with its implementation of nationwide regulations, in the form of its pre-market tobacco approval process and enforcement against certain e-liquid flavours. Further far-reaching regulations from state and local governments targeting various aspects of the e-vapour industry are also likely.

Major industry players are pre-empting government actors

As controversies related to e-vapour grew, some industry players did not wait for government action to enact changes. Major players took a variety of actions including stopping sales to individuals under 21 and limiting their offer of flavours.

Trends that could impact the global market are playing out in the US

The US has been the first to seriously contemplate youth vaping, its prevalence, and its causes. Vaping illness also occurred first in the US. As the products associated with both become more common in other markets, these phenomena may spread.

Key findings
Flavours are a key component of e-vapour’s success…
… and their appeal spreads across the gamut of vapers
Underage vaping threatens the category’s growth
Vaping illness has hastened the call to action for regulation
Closed system manufacturers’ response has been swift
Milestones in the evolution of flavour regulation
New regulations are a continuation of long-standing flavour scepticism
Vapers may pursue new products as closed systems offer fewer flavour options
US e -vapour will continue growth despite its numerous challenges
The US has been the first to grapple with youth vaping
Emerging challenges to US vapour could make their way to other markets
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