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Eliquid May Be All That Remains of Wild West Stigma

By Tyler McCanus

Tuesday July 28, 2015
eliquid régulation is badly needed

Call it eliquid, ecig juice, ejuice, liquid nicotine, the good stuff, whatever. It’s often the focus when anyone really takes a look at electronic cigarettes and what they do. That look can also be overwhelming, as usually the best ejuice brands will have hundreds if not thousands of choices. Flavor, nicotine level, PG/VG mix, all is up for grabs as this truly customizable element of our vaping experience has come to the fore. It’s also perhaps the last vestige of this popular concept that the electronic cigarette industry is one big wild wild west, for good and bad.

Lets start there, because this wild wild west idea sure does get thrown around a lot. When ecigs first started appearing in America, there was definitely an element of lawlessness. You would order these batteries and this eliquid from China and you would just take a leap of faith as to what was really in the stuff. Forget about the best ejuice brands, there really weren’t any brands at all selling ecig juice. Your package would make its way through customs and you would probably be filling your empty cartridges in a 3-piece (cartridge, atomizer, battery) cig-a-like system. That’s all there really was back then.

The era of the wild wild west continued long after that, even as it was to become more civilized in smaller and then larger steps. Real ecigarette companies opened up in the US and created brands. At first they were simply importing the 3-piece and later 2-piece cig-a-like types that were manufactured in China. They would slap on a sticker and call that ecig their own and market it as such. This wasn’t really much progress, but at least with an American company came promise of better quality control. The expectations of consumers would naturally rise if they were buying from within the US rather than outside of it.

Ecig Brands Stepped Up Their Game

ecig-brands-step-up-customer-serviceEcig brands, thus, had to raise their game. There were a few who saw just how much profit potential was in these devices and they started taking things seriously. Pioneering companies like Green Smoke and Blu Cigs began to focus on providing good customer service and backing up the products they sell.

They also took steps into the development of electronic cigarettes and put their energies into making their products better. All of this had a noticeable effect on their ecigs and began raising the bar, at least for cig-a-like type systems that used cartridges pre-packed with eliquid. The wild wild west element still existed, but it was beginning to lessen.

Serious companies took over and pushed the fly-by-night ones to the side. Consumer education also took a step forward, with sites such as ours as well as others. People looking for ecig juice or any ecig products in general had a way to find out if where they were purchasing from was a reputable source. With ecig review sites coming to the forefront of the vaping revolution, there was less lawlessness, or at least fewer people that would venture out into those areas.

Yet it wasn’t over, because we still heard things like batteries exploding or fires caused by ecig chargers. Not that those concerns have been completely eradicated, but as the focus on the inherent dangers of batteries becomes clearer, so does the response. Manufacturers can’t very well ignore any issues, because they would hear the wrath of the consumer and that would be plastered all over the news. Quality assurance had to go up and it did, at least for the reputable companies that were producing products.

Even marketing practices were reigned in over the years. When people first started selling these products, all sorts of claims were made. Some of them may not have been false per se, but they weren’t proven yet. Others were really outlandish claims that simply made our industry appear that snake oil salespeople were running it. That was no good for anyone around the ecigarette industry and thankfully that has also changed enormously, although you can still find some irresponsible marketers here and there.

All in all, the industry has come a long way toward reforming its wild wild west image. It was an image that was rightfully won at the time, but over the years things have changed. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t often reflect how far we have come and how many responsible players there are in the business. This isn’t a sleazy business that is just trying to make money off of unsuspecting suckers. No, this is actually one that tries to help millions of smokers. There was and is so much idealism by small business owners who are often ex-smokers, that the bottom line isn’t just about dollars and cents.

Eliquid One Area Still Wild, Somewhat

Eliquid-Production-Still-WildThe one area where perhaps the stigma has some accuracy is with eliquid. This isn’t to say that all or even most of ecig juice providers fall into this category. Lots of companies and vape shops create good quality stuff that is completely professional.

The best ejuice brands, like Black Note have exceptional quality control and are very far away from giving that outlaw impression. But the reason why the stigma sticks with eliquid is simply because of the ease in making it.

Anyone can make ecig juice if you think about it. Get some propylene glycol or vegetable glycol (or really a combination of both), some liquid flavoring, and of course the essential level of liquid nicotine.

Mix them all together and voila – you have some ejuice for your favorite tank system!

Of course it isn’t that easy to make high quality stuff, and the danger of doing this yourself remains high. Liquid nicotine alone is toxic in high doses, so handling it along with the other ingredients needs to be done with extreme care.

Professional manufacturers create such a work environment and also test their products for safety. These standards may not exist in a written form, but they are ingrained into the practices of those serious about making quality products for their customers. The wild wild west part of it happens when people start creating eliquid in their bathtubs. It happens when there are small companies just trying to make a dollar. It also happens when there are well-intentioned folks who just don’t have the expertise or training to create professional grade ecig juice.

We know that over time this part of the industry will also be standardized as new rules are applied. Already there is a push for a childproof bottling standard and that is an excellent step in the right direction, albeit it comes with an unfortunate move against eliquid flavors. As the community of vapers grows and the industry expands, some level of creative control is given up. That’s natural. Keeping things safe becomes just as important. So while the wild wild west feeling makes us feel like revolutionaries, it can also contribute to fear and accidents.

What most don’t realize is that as much as they like to label this movement as unfettered and lawless, it isn’t like that anymore. A large majority of the industry has taken on various compliance controls and safety standards. This should be rewarded with recognition as it shows the long term thinking that the movement needs. In the end we want vaping to help the millions of current users, but also the millions of smokers who haven’t made the switch. Aside from some areas of the eliquid business, we’re already there. Eventually those from outside the community will realize that and give credit where it is due, even if a headline of a wild wild west industry sells more papers and gets you more viewers.





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