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    Exploring the World of Vapor

    The goal of next month's Vapor World Expo is to illuminate this booming business.

    By Renee M. Covino, Convenience Store News

    ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The inaugural Vapor World Expo “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 Tobacco Media Group International (TMG), the show's organizer.

    The new business-to-business conference and exposition at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., will take place May 7-8. TMG is the company that also organizes the annual Tobacco Plus Convenience Expo, held in January.

    “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,” O’Connor told CSNews Online as he discussed what attendees can expect from Vapor World Expo.

    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.”

    Vapor World Expo will be 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." The refillable products typically seem 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.

    Vapor World Expo is expected to have approximately 100 exhibitors, and O'Connor 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).

    Show 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.

    By Renee M. Covino, Convenience Store News
    • About Renee M. Covino Contributing Editor Renée M. Covino is a veteran researcher, editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in the mass retail sector. Her articles and columns have appeared online and in print for dozens of industry trade magazines, newsletters, metro newspapers, Fortune 500 company reports and college textbooks. Covino is a self-named “store connoisseur” who not only writes about retail, but happily supports it.

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