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Clapper Will Head ECITA

Victory's Michael Clapper (founder of Vapestick, now a major international subsidiatry of Victory E-Cigs) has just been elected Chairperson of the E-Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA), Europe's premier trade group for the vaping industry.

The appointment is of signal importance, as ECITA promises to be influential in upcoming negotiations with EU authorities. Michael Clapper co-founded Vapestick with Michiel Carmel in 2009, after two decades in the Financial Services industry, where he founded and directed the highly successful Enterprise Group.

Carmel brought 15 years experience importing and distributing products into the UK, and was one of the co-founders of ECITA the following year. Together they shaped their e-cig company, Vapestick, into a market leader in Britain and continental Europe.

When Michigan's Victory E-cigs acquired Vapestick last year, just after merging with FIN Brands, Clapper was named International President of the expanding company. With astonishingly quick turnaround, Clapper took Vapestick into the Russian market, which had been the exclusive playground of Chinese e-cig companies, along with a few local startups. Clapper has been a major voice on regulatory and advertising issues in the UK and the EU.

ECITA represents 26 electronic cigarette companies, and sets the bar high for membership. Members must sign on to an audit program called "Industry Standards of Excellence", which embraces testing, labeling, packaging, certification of electrical standards, child-proofing, and best promotional practices. Under the leadership of outgoing Chairman Mike Ryan (in the position since the group's founding in 2010), the association has played a leadership role in self-regulation of e-cigarette companies, which could go a long way toward persuading regulators to smile on the product.

Calling the present moment "a pivotal time in [ECITA's] development," Clapper says: "Both ECITA, and the e-cigarette industry in general, are maturing extremely fast." He promises to "push forward with enhanced communications, starting with a brand-new website and literature, whilst continuing constructive dialogue with government and regulators both in the UK and at the European Union."

The President of ECITA, Katherine Devlin, said: "All the members have expressed their gratitude to Mike Ryan for his four years of dedication and excellent stewardship of ECITA. We are delighted that Michael Clapper has agreed to take the baton, and lead us into the next phase of our journey." Victory Electronic Cigarettes Corporation is the leading independent producer of electronic cigarettes, second only to Big Tobacco's Lorillard/Blu. Unlike the distributors of Blu, Victory and its subsidiaries do not make poisonous cigarettes, and never have. Victory has multiple trademarks, the most prominent being Victory, FIN, VAPESTICK, and GreenStix.

The company is one of several independent American e-cig companies (and one Big Tobacco company) currently being sued for patent infringement by Britain's Imperial Tobacco, which bought patents from the Chinese company Dragonite (earlier, Ruyan), the first marketer of Hon Lik's new invention some ten years ago. The legal action is a revival of a lawsuit filed by Dragonite a few years before it sold its patents to Imperial.