Vapor Voice on TPE Show Stopper
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SHOW STOPPER BY TIMOTHY S. DONAHUE
Vapor made its presence known during the 2018 Tobacco Plus Expo, one of the largest industry events in the U.S.
Cigar smokers will probably never transition to vapor. Every stick offers a unique experience that often changes as you smoke through the cigar. Smoking cigars is also a ritual experience of sorts that can take up to a half-hour or more. It’s this familiarity that cigar smokers truly enjoy, and it
doesn’t transition well into vapor products. However, according to Jonathan Drew, president of Drew Estate, vapor products are definitely disrupting other segments of the tobacco market.
Drew himself is often referred to as a disruptor because his company helped make premium cigars affordable to the blue collar smoker. Drew began his company from a small kiosk in New York City’s World Trade Center and grew it into one of the largest cigar manufacturers in the world. As the keynote speaker at the 2018 Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) on Jan. 31, Drew described vapor’s disruption in the tobacco category with his trademark off-the-cuff style of speaking
“It’s true our company was a disruptor,” he said. “We were disrupting where the work was being thrown around…but what makes a company a true disruptor? Someone once told me it [can be defined as] a category killer. Do you remember when snus was just going crazy? There was a hard push into snus [in the U.S. market]. Then e-cigarettes come … and they were disruptive. … They stopped snus right in its tracks. No questions asked—it just stopped. That’s disruptive.”
The TPE is an annual trade show hosted by Kretek International and its subsidiary Phillips & King, a California based distributor of vapor, tobacco and other types of industry-related products. Its customers include some of the largest and most successful tobacco and vapor retailers in the U.S. This year’s TPE was very vapor-heavy, possibly a foretelling of how much more disruptive potential vapor has in the tobacco industry. The TPE brought together hundreds of exhibitors—a majority of which were vapor-related—thousands of attendees and tens of thousands of products.
Some of the hottest items on the show floor included Aspire’s new Skystar Revvo kit and the Bo Vaping device, a new closed system that uses nicotine salt e-liquids. There was also an interesting new e-liquid company called Bantam Vape.
The Skystar Revvo kit is powered by dual 18650 batteries and comprises a 210-watt mod with a 1.3-inch touch screen. It also includes the revolutionary Revvo tank, which uses the Aspire Radial Coil (ARC), which sits horizontally in the tank and looks similar to a traditional stove top oven. One of the ARC’s most favorable characteristics is the increased surface area of the coil, which provides for greater flavor and vapor production. The Revvo also uses Kanthal wire (made from ferritic iron and chromium-aluminum alloy) and is rated at 0.10–0.16 ohms, according to Aspire CEO Allen Lau, who spoke exclusively with Vapor Voice when the magazine visited Aspire’s factory in Shenzhen, China, in January. The Revvo tank is simple to disassemble and reassemble. It requires only the unscrewing and/or screwing together of the various parts. The coil can be changed even when the tank is full of liquid. Filling the Revvo happens through the center of the tank. Featuring a clean and innovative design, it uses a spring loaded filling tube that is soft enough to allow even the slightest pressure from almost any type of bottle/glass dropper to open it—but it’s also strong enough to create a leak proof seal when released after filling, according to Lau. Inspired by the success of Juul, closed-system pod-style devices that offer nicotine salt e-liquids have been invading the market.
One of the latest of these devices is the Bo Vaping device, exclusively distributed by New York based MMS Distribution. The Bo Vaping device uses an e-liquid reservoir that is both nonrefillable and disposable. This allows for the 1.6 mL flavor pods to be easily swapped out, giving the user a number of flavor options, according to MMS Distribution president Christopher Fiumara. “MMS Distribution is extremely excited to have the Bo
in their portfolio, and we are looking to expand the product into an additional 20,000 stores by year end,” he said. MMS plans to invest another $70 million in Bo in 2018, which will, according to Fiumara, create a “behemoth buzz to introduce all excited vapers to the best product on the market.”
Bo Vaping devices are designed in France, while the e-liquid used in their pods is manufactured in the U.S. With a nicotine strength of 35 mg in the pods, Bo pods provide an authentic experience for users as metabolization happens 200 times faster than with standard nicotine-based products, according to Fiumara. Coupled with the closed-circuit design, this delivers a higher level of nicotine in a smoother manner to the consumer. Other specs include a 380mAh battery that has a charge time of a mere 15 minutes.
Bo also offers 1.5 mL pods (larger than most nicotine salt pods) and offers a lifetime warranty, which Fiumara said is not offered by any other e-cigarette product on the market. “We stand behind our product 100 percent,” he said. “Our warranty program eliminates returns at the store level and gives the user peace of mind. Our goal at Bo is to bring new customers into our ecosystem and to retain them with our ease of use, lifetime warranty and strong loyalty program.”
Bantam Vape announced the launch of its first five premium e-liquids, all in the strawberry family, on the TPE show floor. All materials used in the e-liquids have undergone a toxicology risk assessment, according to Preston Lewis,senior product manager for Bantam Vape.The five flavors being introduced in the initial line include Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Chew, Strawberry Limeade,Strawberry Banana Milkshake and a Strawberry Ice menthol. All Bantam flavors are available in 60 mL bottles with nicotine levels of 0 mg, 3 mg and 6 mg. Additional flavor families are planned to be launched strategically through 2018 and 2019 to keep consumer interest high and provide options for vape shops and distributors, according to Lewis. “All Bantam e-liquids are made in America, using raw materials and ingredients exclusively sourced from the U.S. Bantam vape juice is crafted in an ISO certified clean room environment,” Lewis said. “A fully automated production process ensures a consistent customer experience and enables the company to respond swiftly to growing customer demand, and a 10,000-square-foot shipping facility allows for plenty of product to be staged for expedited delivery.” Bantam e-liquids are ahead of the market in preparation for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) deeming regulations, according to Lewis.
All raw materials are United States Department of Agriculture food-grade quality and are completely traceable throughout the production process, and all bottles are labeled with a batch number and date. Additionally, the brand has a full catalog of flavors that were on the market in 2015 and are registered with the FDA, according to Lewis. If the 2018 event was any indication, vapor will continue to increase its presence at the TPE in the future. As of press time, dates for the 2019 show had not been announced. V