The parallel between the evolution of music streaming platforms and the challenges faced by the vaping industry in combating the black market offers valuable insights into regulatory strategies and quality enhancement.
Napster, the pioneering peer-to-peer file-sharing platform, disrupted the music industry in the late 1990s and contributed to a culture of rampant piracy. At the time the file sharing industry was largely unregulated and there were growing concerns within the music industry about copyright infringement and compromised music quality. However, with the introduction of Spotify, the music industry found a way to combat piracy while offering a paid streaming service.
The vaping industry in Australia faces a similar predicament with a growing black market. Illicit vape products, often of questionable quality, have emerged as a result of unregulated sales and distribution channels, often by criminal enterprises. To address this issue, regulators can draw on the lessons from the music industry's transition from file sharing platforms like Napster to paid streaming services like Spotify.
Creating a sensible legal framework and enforcing strict regulations can help to deter the vaping black market. Making vaping products which meet stringent product quality standards readily accessible and affordable to adults is crucial. Spotify succeeded by offering a convenient and reasonably priced subscription service, making it more attractive than pirated music. The same could be done with vaping in Australia if adults were offered quality regulated products sold by retailers who are already trusted to sell other items intended for adults, such as alcohol.
As evidenced in the case of Spotify, adults will choose a legal, verified product, over the current options given through Australia's illicit black market. Supporting legitimate manufacturers and responsible retailers by legalising the retail sale of nicotine vaping products is critical to stamping out the vaping black market for good.