Vape shops have become so ubiquitous that when Other Music closed, someone took its logo and morphed it into the above. Needless to say, in the past handful of years e-cigs have become a big business, so it’s not surprising that the industry just got its first New York trade show. Vapevent, which launched in Paris in 2013, wafted into New York today and continues at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint through tomorrow.
Before you get too juiced about the latest Milkman flavor, the business-to-business show isn’t technically open to the general public—you have to get credentialed as a vape professional to get in. But that won’t stop an expected 150,000 people from hitting it up, according to the show’s director.
Remi Parola tells us that some 70 exhibitors from 20 countries are displaying 200 brands at the show—a sign of the diversity of product that’s starting to take root in the e-cig game. “I’m French, so I’ll tell you that you can find some insights with wine,” he says. There’s long been an endless array of wine varietals, and coffee and craft beer offerings have become increasingly diverse. In the same way, e-cigs and juices are starting to cater more to individual tastes. Parola pointed to a vape that resembled a USB stick, made by Juul, as an example of the innovative products on display right now in Greenpoint. Men’s Health calls it “the iPhone of e-cigs.”
It may seem odd that Men’s Fitness is plugging an e-cig— albeit with the obligatory warning that “while they’re certainly better for you than cigarettes, studies are showing that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.” But Parola, for one, isn’t surprised. “People often think vape shops are bad, and it’s a new way to hurt your health,” he says. “No, it’s the contrary— it’s a way for many people to quit smoking and if it’s done the right way it can have a huge impact on public health.” Indeed a new study shows that those who switched from cigarettes to e-cigs showed “substantially reduced levels” of carcinogens and toxins.
— Brittani Cushman (@BrittaniCushman) March 2, 2017
Still, New York lawmakers haven’t exactly smiled on e-cigs. As we noted back in 2015, a year after the city ban on indoor vaping went into effect, multiple bills have been proposed that would further crack down on the practice, including an outright ban on e-liquids. In December, the surgeon general called youth vaping a “public health threat.”
Parola says “we are in a new situation with the Trump administration”— which will be a topic of conversation at the conference’s panel discussions. Industry reps have appealed to Trump to scale back what some are calling a “war on e-cigarettes.” Steve Forbes went so far as to decry “the FDA’s anti-vaping jihadists,” while complaining about a new law, passed in May, that subjects e-cig devices to regulatory approval. With a regulation-averse president now in power, could the Vaping Congressman get his way?
Among those speaking at Vapevent today are representatives from the Vapor Technology Association and its federal lobbying firm, and brand consultants dispensing advice on “how to message on vapor issues.” Topics up for discussion include a looming tax that Governor Cuomo wants to impose on e-cigs, pens, and other vaping devices.
With this kind of regulation afoot, it’s no wonder brands with names like Mr Good Vibe, Mello Buddah, and Vape Goons would want to gather in a safe space.