A drive by producers of e-cigarettes to boost nicotine levels in their products is meeting opposition from the European Union. Currently, nicotine levels are much higher in electronic cigarettes sold in the United Sates and companies are attempting to raise levels closer to those of U.S. e-cigarette products. Even so, there aren’t many signs to indicate that Europe will face the same type of regulatory backlash that the U.S. has faced over youth vaping.
Electronic cigarettes, which provide an alternative to regular nicotine cigarettes, come without the same types of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. These alternatives have experienced a massive growth within the United States, driving the maker of Marlboro, Altria Group to purchase a 35% stake in e-cigarette maker Juul in December of 2018.
The product roll-out across countries within the European Union of Juul, whose e-cigarette devices look very much like a USB flash drive and function by transforming a nicotine-containing liquid to vapor, has been problematic due to a limit of 20 milligrams of nicotine per millimeter of liquid. In comparison, the United States allows 59 milligrams of nicotine per millimeter of liquid. The company says that this makes the product a less desirable alternative to cigarettes for those who are considered to be heavy smokers.
While the public health overseers in Britain have generally accepted vaping as a means to help those who smoke actual cigarettes to quit, government bodies in other EU markets, where the rates of cigarette smoking are higher, have not been quite as positive. Most are reported as being “neutral to slightly positive” but none of the markets are viewed as being significantly hostile.
Recently, electronic cigarette producers including Juul have been facing scrutiny due to the popularity of their products among teenagers, who are often attracted to the candy and dessert vaping liquid flavor varieties. Last November, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that it would curb sales of flavored e-cigarette products, such as Juul’s mango and cool cucumber flavors, in response to concerns of use by underage individuals reaching massive proportions.
Overall, European regulators have responded in a positive manner to measures that have been introduced, including voluntary nicotine warning labels, marketing campaigns that are targeted only at those over the age of 30, and checks to ensure that retailers do respect and follow age limits.
Juul is attempting to match the success that it has experienced within the United States by way of a global expansion with a goal of having international sales exceed United States sales numbers in five years or less. It’s share of the U.S. market climbed from 13.6% in early part of 2017 to over 75% by the end of 2019, according to Nielsen retail data. Juul intends to roll-out their products in several different Asian locations later this year and then expand into the Middle East and Africa over the next two years.