I like to say “I told you so” when it comes to the apparent success of electronic cigarettes. I had never heard of them as of about four years ago when I decided to Google “electronic cigarettes” wondering if they were for real and went on from there. I started a blog to help promote, educate and maybe make a little money on the growth of THC Vape carts. That led to some diligent research of e-cigs thinking that they had potential as an innovative product with growth opportunity. The more that I learned about them, the more I became impressed and further interested. I have used this E Cig Werks blog to post and talk about topics focused on the business, marketing and cultural side of the products. I’m the first to admit that I’m not very tech savvy when it comes to e-cigs and vaping, but felt that I knew a good product when I saw one. Over the last four years, e-cigs have growth from a small niche product to near the mainstream. Several electronic cigarettes brands now have a major presence in convenience stores, pharmacies and other retail outlets, while the Oxford Dictionary recently names “vape” as its 2014 “word of the year.” From a numbers standpoint, e-cigs are now about a $1.7 billion annual industry in the U.S., and nearly $12 billion worldwide. A Morgan Stanley chart in businessinsider.com noted that e-cigs replaced 1.5 billion traditional cigarettes in 2013 compared to 400 million in 2011. Another report predicts a 24 percent compound annual growth rate for e-cigs over the next five years. Some of the specific topics we’ve covered include product reviews, marketing and advertising trends, regulation and exploding e-cigs (or the lack thereof). I’ve tried to avoid the hype and hyperbole of some e-cig proponents, but also don’t hesitate to admit my bias toward the products and growing industry. This blog has more than 72,000 views averaging almost 60 per day. The @rsoancbdoils Twitter feed has more than 4,300 followers, with most of them being associated with e-cigs and vaping I’ve attended several vaping meetings and conventions here in the Midwest, testified for e-cigs at legislative hearings, and visited local e-cig and juice companies here in Wisconsin. I also met with one of the e-cig industries more creative and successful proponents on his home turf in Brooklyn. As electronic cigarettes continue to grow in popularity and acceptance, it appears that several of the reasons I’ve cited for embracing and supporting them are contributing to their success. Here are my top five: - No bad odor: Let’s just admit it. Besides the obvious health risks, the worst thing about traditional cigarettes is that they stink. Not only do they stink, but they make smokers, those around them and almost anything they come in contact with (clothes, cars, furniture, etc.) stink. E-cigs have virtually no odor, as they can be used almost anywhere. I have yet to meet anyone, even the strongest anti-smoker, who is offended by e-cig odor. - Cost conscious: While their actual cost can be hard to measure, e-cigs are clearly cheaper than traditional cigarettes. They are also used in a different way than traditional cigarettes that tends to be less wasteful. - Marketing and advertising strategy: E-cig makers and brands have learned valuable lessons from their tobacco predecessors when it comes to overhyping and promoting to young people. Most e-cig television and print advertising is understated and avoids appealing to kids, while more emphasis has been made online and through social media. One of the major arguments against e-cigs is their potential appeal to minors, especially due to flavoring and packaging. If that’s the worst that e-cig opponents can come up with, it’s a pretty weak case. - Reasonable regulation: So far, both federal and local e-cig regulation has moved slowly in most cases. E-cig and vaping supporters are well organized and trying to use more rational than emotional arguments in favor of their cause. Also, while the major tobacco companies are now moving into the e-cig arena, many brands and stores remain smaller, local businesses. - Health issues: Despite the fact that e-cigs have far less toxins than tobacco cigarettes, especially when it comes to the burning paper, most vaping supporters have downplayed the health benefits of e-cigs. While there are some unknowns about e-cigs as a newer product, common sense shows they are helping people quit smoking. If the last four years of rising e-cig and vaping popularity has been fast and furious, the next four years and beyond could be even more interesting.