Regulations & EHS&S
Nicotine industry gears towards change in 2023 3rd March 2023
By By Elizabeth A. Kay
As smoking rates in the US and across the world decline, the nicotine industry is facing significant changes in the year ahead.
These changes will fall in line with the shifts in consumer smoking trends. As a result of declining cigarette smoking rates, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products are becoming much more available. In fact, nicotine pouches and disposable e-cigarettes are showing a range of 76%–32% availability across different sites in four states. As more smokers, and even non-smokers, move towards NRT products, the nicotine industry is witnessing a big shake-up. This article covers some of the changes that can be expected to impact the tobacco and nicotine industry in the near future.
In a recent study from the CDC, nearly two-thirds of adults supported prohibiting menthol cigarette sales. In the same vein, more than half of adults supported the prohibition of all tobacco product sales. Interestingly, more than one-third of the study’s respondents who currently smoked cigarettes or menthol cigarettes are also in favour of prohibiting menthol cigarette sales. Most adults also supported retail policies to prevent smoking and promote quitting.
These findings may be used to help federal, state and local efforts reduce or cut down the sale of tobacco products, and are an indication of growing concerns from the general population for the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. Today, cigarette butts are major contributors to littering. On top of the health hazard that is second-hand smoke, cigarettes are also heavily associated with air pollution. In a previous post on the benefits of sandalwood oil, it was mentioned that cigarette smoke and ozone pollution, aside from harming our lungs, is also harmful to our skin tissue, causing drying and wrinkling at faster rates than average due to the increase of the enzyme Matrix metalloproteinase-1, which digests the collagen tissue. In this post-pandemic climate, it’s unsurprising that people are increasingly concerned about the effects of smoking on the lungs and there will likely be a bigger push to reduce cigarette use. Another trend that is continuing from previous years is the increasing cost of cigarettes. British American Tobacco is beginning 2023 with high price hikes on traditional cigarettes, snus (a variant of dry snuff) and moist snuff products, but not electronic cigarettes and other vaping products. These price hikes include a 70 cents increase for Camel non-filter, Lucky Strike non-filter, Capri, Dunhill and State Express 555.
Vapes, or e-cigarettes, quickly rose to prominence when they were first introduced as alternatives to traditional cigarettes. Also known as an Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, vapes heat nicotine-containing liquid into an aerosol that can be inhaled.
The growth of the disposable vapes market is partly due to their being marketed as helping reduce cigarette waste. However, a feature from the Truth Initiative indicates that e-cigarette waste is more environmentally-harmful than cigarettes. This is due to the materials used in producing vapes, including plastic, nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury and flammable lithium-ion batteries.
The problem is that there is a lack of unified efforts for e-cigarette recycling. Among vape users surveyed, more than half (51%) reported disposing of empty vape pods and disposable vapes in the regular trash, and 10% disposed of used pods or disposable vapes by littering on the ground. Along with years of FDA regulation issues, vapes have become just as harmful in the eyes of the public as traditional cigarettes. At the very least, governments and private companies would need to develop recycling solutions made especially for the safe disposal of e-cigarettes.
Other NRT products
Meanwhile, companies have come up with alternative nicotine products due to the aforementioned issues with cigarettes – electronic or not. Over the years, these products have come in different shapes, forms and applications, such as nicotine pouches, which have rapidly grown in popularity. Inspired by the Swedish snus, nicotine pouches are small pouches made with nicotine and flavourings and are tobacco-free. In contrast to their treatment of vapes and e-cigarettes, the FDA has recently approved new nicotine pouches on the market in the hopes of reducing the number of cigarette users. As they are entirely smokeless and relatively easier to dispose of than cigarettes and vapes safely, consumers will have no need to resort to littering after using them.
Buying nicotine pouches online means users have more access to a full spectrum of nicotine flavours and strengths. Prilla.com’s offerings on VELO, ZYN, Rogu and ON! allow consumers to sample top brands conveniently, as they can ship various products in one order. Today, nicotine pouches continue to appeal to consumers as they provide smokers with a discreet product that can be used anywhere. Their lack of electronic or battery dependence also means they are preferred for traveling, especially in places where tobacco or smoking may be banned.
Other companies, such as Nicorette, have long invested in alternative NRT products meant to replace cigarettes and help people quit smoking. Aside from nicotine pouches, nicotine gums, gummies and lozenges have grown in market size due to their variety of flavourings and less harmful means of consumption. As more countries introduce smoking regulations and policies, these alternative NRT products will continue to rise, with the projection that the market will reach $5.9 billion by 2031. Due to their infancy, however, there is still a lack of studies dedicated to observing the long-term effects of these products, which means there are broad opportunities for researchers interested in this field.
By Elizabeth A. Kay
Liz is a blogger and freelance writer passionate about health and the environment. She is especially fascinated by the relationship between new technologies and their environmental impact. Aside from heavy reading and writing, her time is spent caring for her ever-growing collection of plants.