Opinion: The pros and cons of pod systems
Whether it’s a closed, pre-filled pod, or an open ended AIO style device, smaller, stealthier vaping products have come back in a huge way this year.
We can partially attribute this to the introduction of salt nicotine e-liquids, which hugely reduce throat hit and increase the speed of nicotine delivery. Another possible reason for this pod system gold rush is the increasing mainstream acceptance of vaping, and with these broadening demographics, smaller, simpler devices make sense.
Many pod style devices do provide a great experience for new users, particularly those who are looking for an authentic replication of smoking. The small upfront cost, minimal maintenance and simple operation are undeniably a big draw for those that want to stop smoking, without having to invest time researching more complex products.
However, as is often the case with new products in rapidly growing industries, pod systems are not totally devoid of problems, both for consumers and the world outside of vaping.
The main issue here is the short life cycle and proprietary nature of pod systems.
Traditional vaping devices have settled on an industry standard 510 connection.
This means that the battery portion of a regular vaping system is cross compatible with any atomiser that it has enough power for. If a tank breaks, or its coils go out of production, a replacement tank will stop the mod from becoming a paperweight, until it eventually fails from extended use.
In fact, many mainstream tanks have now settled on a standard coil fitting, which means replacing your device can be entirely avoided in a lot of cases, unless you are particularly clumsy.
The same cannot be said for pod systems. The clear majority of them only accept proprietary coils or replacement pods and with a constant stream of new systems entering the market on a weekly basis, it’s very difficult to know which products will be supported with continued production. The overwhelming variety of products also makes it near impossible for retailers to comprehensively serve their customer bases.
This difficulty for retailers is not a new one in the vaping industry, but the variety of pods has certainly exacerbated the problem.
For consumers, this is particularly annoying, especially when we consider that pod systems hugely appeal to new vapers, who are likely trying to stay away from smoking. It’s not reasonable to expect manufacturers to produce pods for years on end of course, but neither is it a good thing that there have been several examples of pod devices entering the market and going out of production entirely within a matter of months, leaving the installed user base stranded with obsolete devices.
The justification often heard for this is that pod systems are inherently disposable products, not meant for long term use.
I understand why some people think this way, but now more than ever, with vaping under the microscope of mainstream news outlets, it seems like a good time to encourage practices that are both consumer and environmentally friendly.
I do not think it would be fair to raise this issue without proposing some kind of solution, and in this case I feel there is a simple work around. A standardised pod connection would eliminate most, if not all, of the problems I have outlined. Manufacturers would still be incentivised to produce the best possible pod and battery solutions, but we would see less waste and consumer frustration.
*This op ed was written by Vapouround contributor Benedict ‘Ned’ Jones and the statements made do not necessarily represent the views of the magazine.