Entrepreneurs don’t usually miss out on anything in life. Indeed, the skill of a good entrepreneur is to predict the near future and how it can be disrupted by new ideas and then exploited. However, where different cultures, languages and beliefs are concerned even the most experienced and successful businessman can shy away. That happens even when one can guess that a good opportunity is present, such as the e-cigarette market and its application in Eastern Europe. There is a glaring disparity between the volume of advertising of e-cigs in western and Eastern Europe, with three to four times as many western consumers apparently seeing vape advertising than their eastern counterparts. As Forbes reports, that data even applies in Poland, widely considered to be one of the most important European markets for the future.
While Britain introduced a smoking ban in 2007, Eastern Europe took longer, or didn’t bother. Vaping is at least partially behind smoking in popularity because it is competing with traditional, long-held tobacco fandom in countries such as Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, and others. Bans or restrictions have been introduced in some but not others. This writer, for example, remembers having a meal served in Prague by a waiter balancing a combination of plates and cigarettes in the same hand.
But times may be changing. Keen to shed its unofficial title of ‘The Chimney of Europe’, new laws may be coming in to limit smoking in hostelries, perhaps mimicking its neighbours (and former fellow countrymen) in Slovakia, which has supported a partial ban since 2009. A smoking ban in Croatia was introduced and quickly repealed when it proved impossible to enforce. The entrepreneur may therefore encounter resistance introducing e-cigs to countries with such a pro-smoking lobby, but others could potentially be more receptive. Slovenia and Latvia have comprehensive smoking bans in place, for instance.
Except that because of an overall lack of regulation and testing in the e-cigarette market and perhaps a mistrust of the product, many Eastern European countries have banned them, or at least possess laws as nebulous as the smoke they wish to replace. Some are unclear, others are contradictory, with two-tier systems which may include a ban on nicotine products. The aforementioned Latvia, for example, might be consulting on ruining the e-cigarette trade by insisting on heavy-handed regulation of the industry to include a near total ban on vaping. Read full article