Perhaps once upon a time small companies growing into huge businesses characterized our economy. It was the American Dream; you could start from nothing and become anything! Horatio Alger novels that told of rags to riches stories served as the inspiration for many innovators. While these dreams and inspirations are still very much with us, it is not what it once was.
Now, big fish eating small fish can better characterize the economy. Economic Darwinism is a reality. In fact, many start up enterprises are begun with the hope that they can create enough success to draw the attention of a giant corporation and be acquired. It is simply the new reality.
I am most attracted to the e-cigarette industry because of the potential to save millions of lives. Beyond that fact, I am also attracted by the romantic idea of an industry that harkens back to a time when the playing field was even, where an innovator with a strong work ethic could rise above the fray and achieve a level of success that we all dream of.
People with passion started e-cigarette companies. The field was open and many rushed in. The best rose to the top, just as it should be. There is a real will in the e-cig industry to bring manufacturing jobs back to the USA. Of course, as soon as the e-cigarette industry grew to a level that garnered the attention of the establishment, they either wanted to control it or take it over.
Now, the trend of big fish eating little fish is visiting itself on the e-cigarette business. Lorillard has purchased a couple of e-cig brands and recently Philip Morris bought Green Smoke. Tobacco companies are now rushing in to take over and you know what, they can.
Big tobacco companies already have massive distribution networks and almost infinite resources. If they want to take over the e-cigarette industry, they have the clout not to mention the resources. The most successful e-cig brands will thrive, but likely under new ownership.
Big tobacco’s dark history
I understand this is how it works. I can accept the reality that this is the nature of the economy. That’s okay; there is still opportunity out there! But I don’t know exactly how to feel about big tobacco ultimately riding off into the sunset enjoying the profits off an innovation designed to solve a problem that they created.
I know that tobacco companies employ a lot of good people but big tobacco has a dark history and frankly, I think it stinks that they will ultimately benefit from the e-cigarette.
After all, Big Tobacco knew about the dangers of tobacco almost a century ago. Of course they kept that info to themselves. They had doctors promote cigarettes! They hooked generations of Americans by giving free cigarettes to soldiers serving in World War I, World War II, Korea and as recently as the war in Vietnam.
In the twenties, Big Tobacco realized that society did not consider it proper for women to smoke so they began an aggressive advertising campaign associating smoking with elegance and weight loss. It worked. Women began smoking at rates approaching men.
Big tobacco was responsible for on-screen portrayals of smoking in movies from the earliest days of silent films right up through the late seventies and early eighties. They had no reservations about hooking anyone that they could.
In the late 50’s, the Surgeon General and scientists within the US Public Health Service difinitively concluded that there was a direct link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Despite the evidence, Big Tobacco had the clout to prevent the PHS from acting on the science.
It took public pressure on the PHS to act. They did act, but not until 1964 after the final report from the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health.
What do you think about Big Tobacco probably becoming the main business interest in the e-cigarette industry?
What do you think about Big Tobacco probably, ultimately, being the main business interest in the e-cigarette industry? Is it inevitable so why worry about it? Do you think it’s okay? Or are you mad about it? Share your thoughts below.