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Industry professionals, advocates, vape reviewers, vape enthusiasts and any other vapor product user were all invited to register for the webinar VTA hosted. The webinar focused on the single most important situation unfolding within the vape industry. What exactly do you think this issue pertains to?

Can you guess? Or, do you already know? Okay, then say it out loud.

Flavors? Well, yes of course…kinda, sorta, but not exactly. To provide “Flavors” as your answer would be to simplify the savvy approaches and clever actions taken by the VTA to redirect the “Evil Flavors Fallacy.” Therefore, the VTA shifts the attention onto what the real issue is

Of course, the most important argument and major issue does certainly have to do with flavors being potentially banned or limited. More importantly, the entire issue is also being perpetuated by irresponsible labeling and packaging of flavored eliquid products violating intellectual property laws or using child-appealing designs.

However, the VTA is taking lead by reminding Industry professionals of the role they must insist on playing when taking the opposition arguments into consideration.

As with every setback, there is also an opportunity, an opportunity for a better vantage point. Therefore, the opportunity is that the vape industry has been placed in a unique position to develop a fresh perspective with a new view on the matters.

By actually taking action instead of waiting around for rules and regulations to come to the vape industry, the advocacy and trade groups along with business professionals can decide their own fate by agreeing the VTA should be the voice of authority for establishing vape industry marketing standards. Hence,  “Industry Wake Up Call!”

The VTA-hosted webinar arrived at a crucial moment in the young history of the vapor industry. This is largely due to that special month of every year the FDA seems to cherish, the month of May, particularly the beginning of the month.

In order for everyone to be on the same page, the VTA began the webinar with taking the opportunity to discuss the events leading up to the concept of launching their online educational event.

Events Leading Up to Webinar

The Food and Drug Administration announced that it and the Federal Trade Commission had jointly issued warning letters to 13 companies covering 8 specific products on May 1, 2018.

The FDA announced that it had issued warning letters to 4 more companies covering another 3 products on May 10, 2018. Coincidentally, exactly 2 years from when the FDA published the deeming rule on vapor products.

The VTA points out how the FTC did not join in the second set of warning letters, which is interesting to say the least. In total, there have been 17 Warning Letters that were sent out pertaining to 8 Products.

Regardless, just as on May 5th, 2016 when the deeming rule on vapor products was announced, a type of shockwave striking the core and foundation of the state of the vaping nation. A detailed and rather severe regulatory framework was presented to the vapor-sphere throughout United States.

Given that the U.S. is the largest market for vapor products in the world, this announcement also affected the entire global market of vape-based companies. For whatever happens to vaping in the U.S., no matter what the case, the events will undoubtedly determine the rise or fall of the entire worldwide vaping industry.

Whether we like to believe it or not, this is indeed the case. Unless, of course, 10 million more vape product consumers can be replaced  elsewhere in the world.

Important Educational Information

The following da,y after the online event, VTA Executive Director Tony Abboud asked what I thought of the webinar, though he also mentioned how “The feedback and response has been nothing but positive thus far.”

The VTA opened up the webinar by sharing a brief statement that explains what it is exactly that they do. Considering this, the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) defines themselves as “The national trade association that is executing a federal & state advocacy strategy to promote sound regulations for the vapor industry.”

All things considered, the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) is not free to join, which was once a somewhat controversial feature to their organization’s system that eventually became a well-understood necessity. VTA Members consist of Device Manufacturers, E-Liquid Manufacturers, Wholesalers, Distributors, Vape Shops, Online Sellers, Importers and Suppliers

The fact of the matter is that this “pay-to-stay-and-play” membership the VTA requires was only briefly criticized since the industry was so young and very suspicious of anything that consisted of  and perhaps may have been unaware that all this work that is comprised of behind the scenes negotiations that routinely serves as disaster insurance save the entire industry from potential annihilation through lobbying efforts with a highly professional team of attorneys.  

Thus, expecting all their industrial clientele to pay for a membership is entirely reasonable and is not out of the ordinary by any means. In fact, the cVTA is only following the lobbying market standards. Needless to say, you get what you pay for and you are paying for an efficient service of influence and support.

The Agenda of the National Conversation on Marketing Standards serves as an Industry Wake Up Call. The title could not have been more appropriate, given the vastly different points of view on this precise topic all throughout the diverse vape community of consumers, advocates and business owners.

Furthermore, during this webinar, the VTA had three primary objectives to achieve as their agenda. These objectives were:

  1. Explaining the Recent FDA Actions Targeting Unlawful Marketing
  2. Reiterating the VTA’s Leadership on Developing Marketing Standards
  3. Outlining a Call to Action to All Companies in the Vapor Industry

The webinar was created with a user friendly interface presentation for clearly describing the purpose of the discussion and allowing those in need of guidance, a more transparent understanding on how to handle marketing concerns. Offering advice on preventative actions.

Furthermore, the Executive Director of the VTA, Tony Abboud led the national conversation along with additional commentary by Chris Howard.

Mr. Howard is a VTA Board member, serving as Treasurer and formerly General Counsel and CCO of Fontem Ventures, which is a subsidiary that owns blu eCigs.

Chris Howard provided much of the webinar narration with professional confidence.

Reasons for Events and Launch of Webinar

The VTA provided a valuable service by offering this webinar as an opportunity for all members of the vaping community to participate, it was by no means restricted to VTA members only.

Either way, the Vapor Technology Association explains how the FDA has made claims about products being misbranded under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. The FDA clearly states, “Labeling and/or advertising that cause them to imitate food products, particularly ones that are marketed toward, and/or appealing to, children.”

Cite: section 903(a)(1) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. § 387c(a)(1)) and/or section 903(a)(7)(A) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. § 387c(a)(7)(A))

Ultimately, from this, the FDA is attempting to communicate their position and their reasoning is quite clear. The Vapor Technology Association explains it for the vape community, by stating, “such marketing may attract children to consume the product which, of course, is neither intended nor safe.”

In addition to the FDA’s perspective, the FTC claims how certain products violate regulations governing unfair or deceptive marketing.

“Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. This prohibition includes practices that present unwarranted health or safety risks.”

The Main Takeaway

Overall, it is a well known to be the absolute truth for government entities to have a tendency to exhaust the public with during legislative matters. They will employ complicated rhetoric and selective jargon, used by tricky maneuvering in and out, around and back again to avoid certain topics while essentially hammering one particular concept into the minds of the public.

This is where the Vapor Technology Association comes in, to investigate, translate, stipulate, navigate and for the most part, reiterate the most important issues to focus, that is, if you wish to continue doing business.

All in all, looking at the big picture, the main take-away from this webinar is that the vape industry can choose to allow the VTA to determine appropriate marketing standards and essentially offer sensible regulations for all businesses to follow.

Or, perhaps you’d rather sit around waiting for the FDA to construct a more than likely disagreeable solution that would probably consist of selective flavor options.

This is why the VTA is so valuable to the preservation of the vaping industry. They are the lobbyists and lawyers who support the interest of the vape community. They know how to keep the parts of the machine oiled and have certain knowledge in areas many of us could never access.

This is a key role in any leadership situation, when something is challenged, don’t give in, simply alter the language and establish a system for the industry to follow while assisting the FDA from creating sensible regulation and finding middle ground with the opposition in the process.

Next, in a separate article, we will look deeper into exactly what these guidelines are that the VTA is recommending and just how beneficial they could become, essentially creating a whole new efficiency for the industry.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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