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The Good and The Bad of China and eCigs

ATOPACK Dolphin

China has surely became the leading in produced goods for the United States, but what kind of impact does it have in our cramped market of Electronic Cigarettes?

After Hon Lik – a Chinese Pharmacist, invented the first modern electronic cigarette in 2003, the following year they were introduced to the market and started exporting its products in 2005–2006, before receiving the first international patent in 2007. The electronic cigarette was first invented by China, patented by China and still to this day are leading in electronic cigarette manufacturers. It’s obvious that China plays a huge roll in the electronic cigarette market by providing and supplying vendors with many products we use today… that’s the good part.

But how do these manufacturers and suppliers from China have an effect on our U.S. based suppliers? – This is the bad…

Many of our U.S. based suppliers have come up with the most intriguing and well-built quality products that the electronic cigarette market has seen, yet they are being undermined by the ones that started it all. It’s understood that the China pay scale is outrageously under average compared to the United States, but that shouldn’t call for a “get all we can get” attitude. Obvious, it is… but hey, what are you going to do? – While pondering this questions and looking for ways to let the text fall from my fingers, I came across a documentary that was airing on CNBC called “The China Question”. The question the documentary explores is “What does China’s rise mean for America?”. – A very captivating and behind the scenes look of China, its products and the people who produce them.

Through the stories of ordinary people and analysis from the world’s leading experts, “The China Question” explores the challenge America faces as China becomes the world’s second superpower.

Site: http://www.TheChinaQuestion.com

Though the majority of e-cigarettes, atomizers, cartomizers are made in China, we do have a small but ever rising climb of U.S. electronic cigarette makers. In the documentary above, there is one part where they discuss the lack of idealism from the China people. One manager of a China factory says “The China people – because of education, lack the ability of new ideas, therefore not allowing them to create anything of their own or new. This is why you see China taking something that has already been thought up or made and just re-producing it in mass quantities.” (rough quote). One man who was aired on this documentary had around 5 other partners on what he thinks will be a big hit for China. The China man says he is creating a website that will allow the China people to trade, sell and buy used vehicles all online, an online car marketplace. Does this sound familiar? – Yes, what he is creating is what us Americans know as AutoTrader. The China man was asked his reasoning for the creation of something that has already been thought of and he replied “I have no ideas or reason to come up with something of my own. I see no reason to think of anything new. People make these sites and I create something else using their idea as a base.” (rough quote).

We now understand why they want to copy so many of our U.S. made products, but why must the quality be so cheap? – In the documentary a manager from a China factory said “The quality of China products are so poor because the China factories will buy the cheapest material from other countries. If these other countries had better quality material, you would see better quality products being produced from China.” – The man also said “Even though I’m a manager of a China factory, I won’t purchase any China made products, nor will my family… simply because the quality is so poor.”. – Now I’m not saying that all China made products are poorly made, but I am saying in my own opinion that the majority of them are. I have SmokTech tanks that were built perfectly, work well, doesn’t leak and look great. However, I’ve had imitation SmokTech tanks that were obviously built with little care and look almost hideous. From my experience, its a hit or miss with China produced products.

This now leads us to a prominent part of this article; How China affects our U.S. based suppliers, their business and what the everyday consumers think of it all. I’ve talked to a couple of our top leading suppliers and everyday consumers in our ecig ‘community’ and this is what they’ve had to say…

It helps my business in the sense that I can import hardware products from China that I can provide to customers at a reasonable price. The majority of my customers are new users and prefer not to spend too much at first until they know they will enjoy it. The other good thing about China is the fact that there just aren’t many e-cigarette manufacturers here in the US so the options for products to carry would be extremely limited.

How it hurts my business, well that is something that a lot of vendors would probably answer the same. It hurts us in the sense that we receive products that are different from ordered (wrong type, color, size, ect.) because of poor communication/translation or they just don’t pay close enough attention to detail. Another big downside for importing from China is the standards that factories set for Quality Control if there are any standards in place at all. Lastly, importing products can be risky and although not everyone has issues or has had them in the past, eventually you may have a shipment seized in customs. Hopefully when you experience that, it’s not a huge purchase because you could be at a loss for the products and the capital invested in acquiring them.

Says Brett, TexasSelectVapor.com Owner

 Honestly i think it’s just a matter of time before USA manufactures take the manufacturing process to china to get cost down. There has already been a few that have already done this. The economy here is not getting any better. Even though made in America is what we all want our current budgets are leaning on a more affordable solution. When it comes to e-liquid i believe USA hands down will dominate the market. The real fact, if a Chinese manufacture can make the same product and keep the quality the same then there is no way we can compete with them. It’s a shame but until the inflation of our economy goes down a huge percent of buyers don’t want to spend a lot of money on a product that they don’t know is going to work for them or not (referring to new users) Those that know what they are doing know the quality of USA made products. They key is to raise awareness of the big difference and advertise it.

Says Gary, TheDigitalCig.com Owner

For the most part it doesn’t bother me personally. Though I’d like to see much more created here in the states for the benefit of our own country, we can’t avoid the fact that 90% of the merchandise in our homes have been manufactured and shipped in from China. From our children’s toys to our over sized televisions, China has made a place in our homes due to the hand over fist demand for lower end consumer cost. Do I think US based suppliers will surpass them? This is two-fold answer in my opinion. In hardware, no. Here’s the thing, let’s say a modification is created here in the states, or perhaps a better designed e cigarette, if that company takes off and I mean really takes off, eventually in order to maintain the companies direction at some point, profit has to become a number one priority. Especially if that company every went public. Expensive high quality American mods have a niche no doubt, but new people entering the market simply don’t want to shell out the extra money when a product from China is very comparable. A perfect example is the Lava Tube. Say what you want, but in my opinion that device is quite obviously spawned from the Pro Vari. It’s a great unit and It’s become very popular regardless of the fact an American counter part is available. Why? In this economy especially, consumers want more bang for their buck. The cost of labor is much higher in the United States, so trying to compete with China is next to impossible. With hardware out of the way we move to liquid. This is where I think America will not only surpass China, to be blunt, I think China’s asses will be handed to them. Why? A couple of reasons, other than clean rooms and equipment, e Liquid is not as resource intensive as hardware manufacturing is. The raw parts are much less expensive in bulk. The second reason is safety. If there is one thing the consumer cares above all, it’s safety. Regardless of cost. This is ironic considering most of us used to be smokers for years with little regarded to the dangers of smoking. While I do believe the largest supplier of e Liquid (DK) is safe, the bottom line is, most consumers simply prefer American over Chinese. If American companies do it right from the start, (no dining room table mixing) there is a very good chance as a country we’ll strive in this area.

I wouldn’t say China affects our business as much as it is our business currently. Not just us but most suppliers. I’d say just about every supplier sells a Chinese product. Even American mod makers usually sell atomizers or batteries for their modifications that come directly from China. Now if you’re asking, are there any negative effects? I’d say only to the innovators. China has no qualms or guilt about blatant patent infringement. Trying to fight them legally is next to impossible. It’s a given fact that if a mod maker comes out with something new and it becomes extremely popular, he or she has a limited window of time to turn around a profit. The MAP tank is the perfect example to this.

GuideToVaping asks… “Has a China manufacture ever ripped, stolen or copied any of your creations or products?”

This hasn’t been an issue for Vapor Talk. Though, I did have a company one time contact me about wholesale goods. While sitting down drinking my coffee I clicked the link to their site. Not to my surprise I see the banner in their companies header was a banner used by Vapor Talk back in 2010. It was a banner logo I created in Photoshop. The Chinese company removed the Vapor Talk name and place their own company logo on top. What’s interesting to me is the fact that it must have been fairly difficult to do given the detail in the background of that particular banner. I can’t help but wonder why the person using the Stamp tool in Photoshop just didn’t create his own banner. Needless to say, we didn’t purchase anything from them.

Says Chris, VaporTalk.com & ForeverVapor.com Owner

GuideToVaping asked… “As a consumer of electronic cigarettes, how do you feel about China being the ‘big dog’ in this market? – Also, Explain your likes and dislikes.”

China pioneered the e-cig, it’s only fit that for as long as they continue to be the only manufacturer of the most commonly sold styles & brands in e-cigs they will be [big dogs]. It seems that our effort to save a measly buck could mean that they will continue to be.

Says Modus Nine (aka Nox)

The quality of the chinese products that are available is less than desirable.  As consumers this is our fault.  Most of us want to get our electronic cigarette products at a low price.  China is able to produce these devices at a lower price to fit most of our needs.  Higher quality devices, made in the USA, would be more expensive.  As consumers, we will need to accept that in order to change the ecigarette market.  I, for one, would not mind spending an additional 50% for nice USA manufactured devices.  Unfortunately, I am only one person.  The common reaction to a price increase is always going to be “I can get that same functionality from a device that is 50% cheaper.”.  Until we change our spending habits, and expectations of cost, China will always be a leading provider of poorly made, undependable, ecigarette products.

Says Rob, an Electronic Cigarette Consumer

China being apart of the ecigarette boom is almost all I know, better yet… it’s what most of us are used to. Although we know that almost all of the atomizers and cartomizers come from China, we do have mods and other accessories that originated here from the United States. The majority of the e-cig products I use, they’re from China. My LavaTube is from China, my SmokTech tanks are from China and most of my drip tips are from China. However, I do own some U.S. made products, such as my Bombshell Mod, my Kick, my Drip shield, and finally… my eLiquid.  I understand I’m not helping in any way, but with my financial circumstances, it’s like I almost have no choice. If I want a tank, I can’t spend $30-$60, I have to go with what is in my means, such as the SmokTech tanks.

Rob wrote above that we as the consumers will have to change our ways in order to stop China from pushing the majority of their cheaply made products, but what if you don’t have that option?


Please leave your thoughts below.


About the author

Blake Brown

Blake is the owner and creator of the Guide To Vaping blog. He has expressed his passion for the vaping industry through his deeply rooted and highly informative content. Being a writer and content provider for the vaping industry for year's, Blake has also gained experience from working with multiple blogs and well respected companies.

9 Comments

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  • After reading this whole article (as well as writing a heftier comment) I thought of something that was not mentioned . . . batteries. The US dose not manufactures batteries (that I know of), China dose. Same with cart’s, carto’s and most (HH357 being the only atty I know of that is made here in the USA) attys. I buy as much USA products as I can afford where I can afford it. (Seriously, I am not spending more then $20 on my kids shoes that they will grow out of in less then six months.) There are just some things, like Chris (I believe) said, “…90% of the merchandise in our homes have been manufactured and shipped in from China.” I don’t know the numbers personally, but I’d believe that. My vaping products tho, batteries and attys come from China and the rest, USA only.

    • Good thinking GeekyGirl36 and I appreciate your comment. I of course try to purchase US made products over the China products because of quality, but I like many others can only purchase what we can afford.

      Thanks to all of you who have tweet or shared this article. 🙂

      • Blake, I agree, we purchase what we can afford and I have a TIGHT budget with one mod, a couple of eGo’s, a couple of attys, a few batteries and DCA’s. I’ve been vaping for over a year and not much has changed. Nothing fancy or flashy; just the basics that keep me off cigs and keeps me vaping.

  • Very well written article. Thank you. Just for the record, 100% of Vape Dudes eJuice is handmade in Dallas, Texas using ingredients created in the USA. we don’t get any flavor concentrates, nic, PG or VG from anywhere but here in the USA. At Vape Dudes, no part of the eJuice creation is outsourced; everything is done by the Dudes. As shocking as it may seem, this type of hands on attention to detail isn’t as common as you might think in this industry.

  • FOOS electronic cigarettes

    I am an electronic cigarette Importer. I hire Americans (as contractors) to distribute all over the nation. Our Brand is FOOS. These, “contractors” make very good money and our product is very very high quality. In fact I haven’t found a better quality.
    This is all done by importing China made products. It’s a fact of life…. It’s call globalization and specialization.
    The same kind of quality should be expected by the importer just as though he or she was manufacturing themselves.
    Eventually Americans will find that in order to compete on a global level we will have to have less regulation, and more specialization. Electronic cigarettes (at this time) are just one of those products we cannot specialize in.

    billy@foos1.com

  • For the record…….Hon Lik didn’t invent the first e-cig. It was invented in 1963, right here in the good ole USA!!

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