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There has been a lot of uncertainty this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day seems to bring different insight into the virus and how it spreads. Strict quarantining policies caused an economic upheaval; the United States alone has seen an unemployment rate of 14.7% (over 20 million jobs were lost). People are worried about their health and paying the bills. It’s been a time of high tension. And yet despite that, some industries are still flourishing. The vape market is one that is anticipated to keep growing—even with the associated health concerns.
Health, Vaping, and COVD-19
The first commercially successful electronic cigarette (or “e-cigarette”) was created in 2003 and arrived in the United States market around 2006/2007. Since then there have been improvements in technology, from the first-generation Cig-A-Likes to vape pens and vaping mods to pod systems. And even though the electronic cigarette dates as far back as the 1930s (when a patent for one was filed in 1927), it has only been around for less than 20 years, meaning there is still a lot we don’t know about vaping. An article in Harvard Health Publishing from September 2019 explains that there is still a lot that is not known about e-cigarettes, such as if they can cause lung disease or if it is more common among those with pre-existing lung issues.
The Harvard article goes on to detail additional health effects such as accidental liquid exposure causing acute nicotine poisoning, e-cigarette ingredients linked to cancer, and more. According to the United States’ Surgeon General’s website, in addition to nicotine, other ingredients in e-cigarettes that are potentially harmful include ultrafine particles, chemicals linked to lung disease, and heavy metals. The use of e-cigarettes increases the user’s risks of health complications—even to the point where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed those who vape in the “higher risk” category when it comes to COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can significantly affect the lungs, causing permanent damage. Even after recovering from the illness, many still feel effects long after. Having a health immune system and uncompromised lungs can be key to lessen one’s chance of severe lung damage. But individuals with a history of smoking are 14 times more likely to have a more severe case of COVID-19 compared to their non-smoking counterparts. The reason for the increase is because vaping and smoking affect the lungs by leading to inflammation, disease, or other damage, thereby affecting the overall function of the lungs, which, when mixed with a COVID-19 diagnosis, can cause serious complications.
And while health officials urge individuals who vape to quit—or at least suspend their use—those in industry don’t see the vaping marketing dying off anytime soon.
The Growth of the Vape Market?
In an interview with Forbes in June, Clear Cannabis Inc. CEO Tom Brooksher said that “summer is a strong season for cannabis sales” due to individuals looking to “enhance” their outdoor experience or vacations. As the quarantine and social distance restrictions that were put in place continue to be lifted, Brooksher anticipates a spike in sales since more people will be able to enjoy activities outside, including a return to tourism.
Elizabeth Hogan, the vice president of brands at GCH Inc., states that vape sales will increase because right now, sharing is not caring: “With the fear of spreading germs, vapes sales will continue to grow as consumers move away from shared joints or bowls. … We’re sharing in spirit only these days,” Hogan said.
Another industry expert agreed with this line of thinking. According to Spherex CFO Dan Gardenswartz, more customers were shifting toward vape pens due to concerns over health and sanitations. And Cortney Smith, CEO and founder of DaVinci vaporizers, agreed, saying, “We recognize the need for personal vaporizers, especially in a time when cannabis consumers are shifting from a culture of sharing devices to more individual consumption.”
But don’t take their word for it. There is ample data that backs their claims. In a report from Grand View Research published in February 2020, the global market is expected to expand well into 2024 to meet demands from millennial customers. The growth is in part driven by both the thought that e-cigarettes are safer alternatives to cigarettes and the options for customization that cigarettes do not offer. The market is forecasted to be worth $67.31 billion by 2027.
A March 2020 report released by Research and Markets states that the global market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 14% into 2025. Their three contributing factors for this growth are:
1.A shift to vaping over traditional cigarette consumption
2.An increase in market consolidation
3.An increase in product variety
With these three factors—in addition to the growing trend of individual consumption—the vape market will continue to grow well into the next decade.
2021 and Beyond
At the time of this writing, the total of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide was at 18.2 million, and a vaccine is still not available to the public. Even with the push for individuals to socially distance, wash their hands, and focus on remaining healthy overall, the vape market has not seen a significant hit. While it may have dipped initially in the beginning stages of the pandemic, the industry is listening to consumers and adjusting accordingly.