Economic Impact and Consumer Buying Trends Detailed In Independent Analysis of American Vape Shops  

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 2015U.S. brick-and-mortar vape shops generate annual non-online sales of more than $300,000 per store, according to the 2015 Vape Shop Index, released today by ECigIntelligence, Roebling Research, E-Cigarette Forum and the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA).

The index, an ongoing study of U.S. vape shops as part of “Project Vape Manifest,” analyzed financial, product, and brand-level data, including trends, preferences and owner attitudes from 540 vape shops across 42 states.

“This really is the first time that the industry will have detailed independent data from vape shops, where much of the growth in the sector is now occurring, reaching more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue,” said Tim Phillips, CEO, ECigIntelligence. “As consumer preferences evolved toward open system tanks and e-liquids, we saw a need for accurate data to help shop owners better compete in today’s marketplace.”

The index also found that more than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) were single-store owners, while 16 percent owned two shops and 15 percent had three or more stores.

Other findings include:

  • Sales of e-liquids account for nearly 60 percent of store revenues.
  • Fruit and dessert flavors were ranked as the top-selling e-liquids.
  • Fifty percent of e-liquids are sold in 3 mg/mL and 6 mg/mL nicotine concentrations.
  • Forty-three percent of brick-and-mortar vape shops sell online.

The index also revealed that nearly all respondents (98 percent) support appropriate and reasonable regulations. However, two-thirds (67 percent) of vape shop owners claim state regulations are/will be hurtful to their businesses, despite the fact that more than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents are optimistic about the current state of the vapor industry.

“Our results show that the vape shop channel is primarily made up of sincere, hard-working small businesses that contribute significantly to the economy,” said Cynthia Cabrera, president and executive director of SFATA. “Results also point to the fact that regulations are a key concern and anything onerous, such as the FDA’s pending final rule, could seriously impact tens of thousands of jobs, as well as jeopardize the role vapor products play helping smokers switch to a less harmful alternative.”

Findings from the 2015 Vape Shop Index demonstrate retailers’ commitment to keeping vapor products out of the hands of minors, with 85 percent of respondents reporting the use of in-store signage to prevent underage sales. Similarly, more than half (54 percent) of vape shops do not allow minors to enter their stores and 92 percent always require ID at the point-of-sale.

The index also found that the e-liquid sector remains very fragmented and no one company dominates in terms of brand penetration, while the hardware sector is much more consolidated.

“As the vape shop channel continues to mature, we’ll probably see more consolidation as established vape shop retailers continue to grow and expand their businesses,” said Steve Hong, principal, Roebling Research. “There’s no doubt this channel is driving the broader category and we expect the channel to grow even bigger next year.”

Survey respondents will receive a free customized intelligence report. The full 2015 Vape Shop Index report is available for purchase at

About the Vape Shop Index

Project Vape Manifest is an ongoing joint project of ECigIntelligence, Roebling Research, the E-Cigarette Forum and SFATA. Data for the 2015 Vape Shop Index was collected from 540 vape shops during August 26, 2015 to October 19, 2015 by responding to a detailed survey questionnaire.

 About ECigIntelligence

 ECigIntelligence is the leading business intelligence and regulatory research resource for professionals in the e-cigarette and vapor industry, providing detailed market analysis and regulatory tracking across the globe through its online portal.

About Roebling Research

Roebling Research is a market research and strategy consultancy dedicated to the vape industry. Based in New York City, the company counts among its clients category-leading vapor companies, retailers, and professional services firms.

About E-Cigarette Forum

E-Cigarette Forum is the longest-running and largest e-cigarette community online. Founder Oliver Kershaw has worked behind-the-scenes for years to help ensure the future of the industry, including by co-founding the E-Cigarette Summit at London’s Royal Society.


The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association is the largest trade association in the vapor products industry with approximately 800 members and 16 chapters located across the country, representing online retailers, brick and mortar vendors, distributors, manufacturers, importers and wholesalers.

Is the E-Cig & Alcohol Regulatory Arena a Leveled Playing Field?

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for “protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, the food supply, cosmetics and products that emit radiation.” In doing so, they monitor and regulate various industries including cosmetics, alcohol, tobacco as well as most food products and dietary supplements. Alcoholic beverages in particular are monitored by several different federal agencies including the FDA. Other agencies that also monitor and regulate various aspects of the alcohol industry include the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Although the food, alcohol and narcotic industries are regulated by different federal agencies, they all have one end-goal: to keep Americans safe and to promote innovation.

A recent Wall Street Journal article examined the alcohol industry’s booming popularity in sweet and candy-flavored alcoholic beverages. Not only does the federal government permit various flavored alcoholic beverages for public consumption, but they also allow them to be readily available at a diverse set of public places including sports events, concerts and other entertainment events. In addition, alcoholic products are also being marketed with the help of millions and billions of dollars across mass mediums including cable television channels, social media, radio and print outlets.

For many e-cigarette consumers, business owners and advocates, the playing field for the consumption and promotion of alcoholic beverages appears uneven compared to the nicotine industry. Although tobacco, nicotine and alcohol products are all legal in the United States (in limited amounts), alcohol brands are allowed to market and revolutionize their products in many ways that e-cigarettes cannot. This point alone has many wondering why one industry is allowed more freedom to promote and sell while the other is not.

Elected officials in Washington D.C. are currently taking the next few months to review the e-cigarette industry in preparation for possible regulation. During this time, many electronic cigarette advocates are concerned that certain anti e-cig groups that have proposed and encouraged e-cigarette bans will cause negative implications on the entire industry. In particular, some groups are proposing that flavored e-cigarettes become banned, except for Menthol and Tobacco flavors. This model is not random at all and is the precedent of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which bans “characterizing flavors of tobacco cigarettes.” SFATA and other e-cigarette advocates are questioning why the government would ban e-cigarettes with “characterizing” flavors but not sweet flavored alcohol products?

Although some uninformed outsiders are claiming that flavored e-cigarettes are appealing to under age users, the same argument could very well go for flavored alcoholic beverages. SFATA believes the opposite is true for this argument when it comes to the e-cigarette industry. From state regulations that prohibit minors from buying e-cigarettes in retail stores, to age verification software for online e-cigarette purchases, as well as voluntary age restrictions imposed by many e-cig vendors, there is little room for minors to access electronic cigarettes.

Many traditional tobacco cigarette users have stated that in the absence of flavored e-cigarettes, they would continue using tobacco containing cigarettes rather than its combustion free, smoke-free alternative.  By imposing a ban on various flavored e-cigarettes, the government can also potentially impair domestic and international economic growth and take away a useful product that millions of people have found to be reliable and useful.

SFATA urges elected officials and the FDA to implement common sense e-cigarette regulation in the U.S. by allowing innovation and access to this technology. SFATA believes parallels exist between the e-cig industry and the alcohol industry and calls for a judicious and cautious legislative movement by the federal government. For more e-cigarette industry tips, advice and updates, follow SFATA on Twitter and “Like” the official SFATA Facebook Fan Page!

How Do Tobacco-Free Hiring Policies Affect E-Cigarette Users?

Have you heard about the latest trend affecting professionals in the healthcare industry? Many hospitals and medical institutions across the United States are refusing to hire individuals who use tobacco products. One of the biggest clinics in the country, the Mayo Clinic, is likely to have started this trend in 2007. Other major health care institutions, including the Baylor Health Care System in Texas, followed suit shortly after, banning tobacco use among employees in 2012. The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this year that the Orlando health group, which operates seven different hospitals, implemented a tobacco-free hiring policy in April. Penn State University’s medical centers also implemented the same policy just two months ago.

According to these organizations, the goal behind implementing tobacco-free hiring policies is to improve the overall health of its workforce while reducing health care benefit costs and increasing productivity. Although this position may make sense to some, many e-cigarette advocates are pointing out that there is a thin line between wanting the best for your employees and dictating the way they live their lives. When did it become acceptable to treat tobacco products as an illegal substance? Many e-cigarette advocates are posing that question because of the widespread popularly of this new hiring rule. The truth is, everyone does things in their private life that may negatively affect their health. We all have our vices — some drink too much when they go out with friends, some overeat, and some do not exercise as much as they should. Regardless, those aren’t reasons to implement controlling policies in the workplace that essentially infringe on people’s freedoms.

As this new hiring policy becomes the standard among medical institutions, many e-cigarette users and advocates are wondering whether it will affect them. Will this hiring trend spread into other industries? Depending on what state you live in, the chances are no. According to an NY Times article written earlier this year, “29 states and the District of Columbia passed laws, with the strong backing of the tobacco lobby and the American Civil Liberties Union, that prohibit discrimination against smokers or those who use ‘lawful products.’” The downside is that most of these state laws exclude health care industries.

Fortunately for e-cigarettes users, these tobacco-free hiring policies should not affect them at all. E-Cigarettes contain zero or less than one percent tobacco and produce no actual smoke, marking these hiring policies irrelevant to e-cig users. In addition, e-cigarette users should feel even more at ease knowing that these tobacco-free hiring workplaces reference tobacco products and traditional cigarettes and do not mention e-cigarettes at all.

To get more tips and updates on the electronic cigarette industry, “Like” the Official SFATA Facebook Fan Page and follow SFATA on Twitter

E-cigarette Traveling Tips

Whether you are a regular traveler or are gearing up to go on a once in a lifetime trip that requires air travel, it is important that you carry and use your e-cigarette devices properly and with respect.

As reported on the official TSA blog, currently you can travel by air with all of your e-cigarette batteries, e-liquid, cartomizers and accessories. Most e-cigarette advocates can testify that traveling with an e-cigarette via car, plane or train isn’t a big deal. Using e-cigarettes in airports or on planes however is where the debate is. Since e-cigarettes have become mainstream, many airline carriers have implemented their own vaping policies. SFATA recommends you respect policies and regulations as dictated by the airline; international airlines appear to be more flexible with regards to use in-flight. If you do use your e-cig on a plane, do so discretely.  Too much vapor can set off the smoke detector alarms on a plane, so always be cautious. Attempt to vape near designated (tobacco) smoking areas, and if you can’t, be mindful and respectful of others who are not aware of e-cigarettes as an adult alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Tips for traveling with your e-cigarettes:

– Only 3.4 ounce bottles of any liquid or gel are allowed in carry-on baggage. Larger e-liquid bottles must be put into your checked baggage.

– Isolate all of your carry-on liquid when passing through the security checkpoint at any airport to expedite the process. This will help TSA officials clearly see all items and liquid.

– Carry an envelope or mailing package that your e-cigarette and e-liquid will fit into. In a worst-case scenario where TSA agents will not allow you to board the plane with your e-cigarette or e-liquid, mail your e-cigarette products to your final destination.

– Bring enough batteries, carts and e-liquid to last your entire traveling trip so you don’t run out.

– Store all e-cigarette parts and e-liquid separately. Use zip lock bags as an affordable and reliable carrying alternative.


To learn more e-cigarette tips and to receive the latest e-cig industry updates, follow SFATA on Twitter and “Like” the Official SFATA Facebook Page.

Why Electronic Cigarette Education is Important for the Survival of the Industry

As millions of people worldwide continue to switch to electronic cigarettes as an alternative to traditional smoking, it is the responsibility of e-cigarette business owners, manufacturers and sellers to educate themselves on the best ways to produce and sell reliable e-cig products as well as to educate their customers. In fact, while still largely unregulated, the domestic market grows, further reinforcing the need for e-cig business owners to take the initiative to responsibly market and distribute their products to the masses. “At the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), a non-profit trade association dedicating to helping and informing e-cig business owners, we provide guidelines for members so that the industry operates in a sensible manner,” said Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA Executive Director. “Our organization encourages e-cig brands to implement marketing campaigns geared solely toward adults respecting established smoking bans and encouraging the production of reliable and innovative products that consumers can rely on.”

While learning about e-cigarettes, it is important to understand how vastly different they are from traditional cigarettes. In fact, although they look similar and almost possess the same name, they are extremely different. One is an electronic device that produces no combustion, no smoke and instead releases almost odor-free vaporized liquid. In addition, e-cigarettes do not contain combustible tobacco or the nearly 4,000 toxic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes that are known to cause serious health risks.

Most consumers are using e-cigs as a nicotine delivery system, but an often-overlooked fact is that most brands offer e-cigarettes with zero nicotine, containing .primarily food flavorings, vegetable glycerin and/or propylene glycol – similar to hookah machines.

With the popularity of e-cigarettes, more e-cig brands have entered the market and products are readily available at local retail shops and gas stations across America. But with more popularity, comes more scrutiny and the uninformed.  Lou Maiellano, e-cigarette expert and advocate, suggests why and how business owners can best educate themselves on the industry and then turn around and promote that same education to others. “…I believe that it is critical for retailers and distributors to consider the challenges facing the [e-cig] product and product category and find ways to get smarter and to get involved,” Maiellano said.

Consumers and business owners should understand that the e-cigarette industry is complex and fairly new. When you hear someone say that e-cigarettes are just as harmful or bad for users as traditional cigarettes, direct them to the scientific research. “A study was just released by Professor Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health, confirming that chemicals in e-cigarettes pose no health concern for users or bystanders,” Maiellano noted.  “This is the first definitive study of e-cigarette chemistry and it finds that there are no health concerns based on generally accepted exposure limits.”

The study conducted by Professor Igor Burstyn revealed the levels of contaminants e-cigarette users are exposed to are insignificant, far below levels that would pose any health risk.  With this in mind, it is important that e-cigarette advocates position this information in the best manner possible. “No one has to make health claims, everyone should focus on the amazing research readily available” Cabrera explained.

Overall, it is important to educate the public using facts and scientific research; if electronic cigarette users and sellers do just that, the electronic cigarette industry will have a much better chance to thrive and exist responsibly.

Learn more about the electronic cigarette industry by following SFATA on Twitter and “Liking” the Official SFATA Facebook Fan Page