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It?s a new world of tobacco out there and a first-of-its-kind trade show is ready to illuminate the vapor business for all corners of the lightning-fast growth market.
On May 7?8, Tobacco Media Group International (TMG) will debut Vapor World Expo, a business-to-business conference and exposition at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. The show ?will bring the world of vapor together for two days to meet, do business and learn what to expect as the vapor phenomenon continues to expand across the globe,? said Ed O?Connor, president and CEO of TMG, which also owns the Tobacco Plus Convenience Expo (TPC), held in late January in Las Vegas.
?The market for electronic and vapor devices is growing worldwide as more smokers are turning to these products as an alternative to the traditional tobacco products,? he added.
Electronic cigarettes and related vapor devices have reached the ?tipping point,? according to O?Connor. ?Having passed through the fad stage, the market is trending substantially higher and rapidly becoming a tobacco behemoth. It is innovative, unique and capturing enormous consumer appeal,? he said. ?Once a market reaches the tipping point, there is no stopping it. It moves from a fad to a trend, and we are on the trend line given the growth of a market that many experts in the industry believe will overtake traditional cigarettes at some point within the next decade or two.?
Creation of the Vapor World Expo came about after O?Connor and TMG/Tobacco Business International followed the market for five years and realized, ?Wow, for the first time in the tobacco business, we are on the right side of history,? he said.
The market he refers to is all-encompassing of non-combustible vapor devices that include disposable and rechargeable e-cigarettes ? sometimes referred to as ?cig-alikes? ? which some say are being embraced more by an older demographic/traditional smoker, as well as personalized devices refillable with e-juice or e-liquid and sometimes referred to as ?mods? or ?tanks.? These refillable products seem typically to capture a younger demographic and those willing to embrace a different way of taking in nicotine.
The show intends to provide a forum for the exchange of information and goods for the entire market, as well as a current state-of-the-industry update on the changing trends, technologies, and regulatory proposals and initiatives.
The conference program includes educational sessions consisting of an association panel on the first day and a tobacco analyst and legal consultant on the second day.
Representatives from three of the industry?s top associations and one of its earliest pioneers will offer their perspectives and address questions about the future of electronic cigarettes and vapor products in a first-day panel entitled, ?E-Cigarettes Today and Tomorrow.? The panelists include Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association; Tom Kiklas, director of operations for The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association; Linc Williams, co-founder of the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association; and Bill Bartkowski, president of VapAria, an e-cigarette research and product development company.
On the second day, Bonnie Herzog, managing director of Wells Fargo Securities LLC, will offer her analyses of e-cigarette sales trends, the retail landscape of traditional channels vs. vape shops, the types of devices ? cig-alikes vs. tanks ? and tax trends from the local and federal levels.
Following Herzog, Bryan Haynes, partner with Troutman Sanders law firm, will provide an overview of the e-cigarette regulatory environment, including an update on Food and Drug Administration proposals and state regulatory initiatives.
There will also be social activities and get-togethers at the show, according to O?Connor. ?We are trying to create an environment in which attendees and exhibitors say, ?I learned a lot, I sold a lot, I had a good time and I was treated well,?? he said.
As of early March, Vapor World Expo had more than 50 vendor exhibitors committed and more than 150 booths sold; the goal is to sell 200 booths, but O?Connor believes all indications are for the tally to be considerably beyond that.
?I think when it?s all said and done, we will have approximately 100 exhibitors at the show and close to 300 booths sold,? he told Convenience Store News. He noted how ?huge? a number/percentage that is considering there are approximately 300 e-cigarette/vape vendors in the United States currently (and approximately 2,000 in China).
Attendees are expected to come from all corners of the marketplace, including tobacco shops, mass retailers, wholesalers, distributors and convenience stores.
?The changing of the product guard is critical for tobacco marketers to get a handle on,? O?Connor said. ?And in a year, the technology will have changed again and it will be a different vapor world. So, we are hopefully just one of several venues that will embrace what we feel is very important market activity and information.?