When the CEOs from Altria, RJ Reynolds, and Lorillard, collectively known as Big Tobacco, got up in the morning 5 years ago, they couldn’t have imagined they would each own electronic cigarette brands. Yet, here we are now with MarkTen, Vuse, and Blu E-Cig representing each of those huge companies in the electronic cigarette industry.
This may make you think that these guys have turned over a new leaf and are fully behind the electronic cigarette as a solution for so many smokers, and many of their own customers. But companies that make this much of a profit don’t typically think in terms of what is good for people, rather they think of what is good for their tobacco company. This case is no different from any other in that regard.
That’s why we have to be skeptical of Big Tobacco, even though they own electronic cigarette brands themselves. When Altria and RJ Reynolds created MarkTen and Vuse, respectively, they weren’t thinking of us vapers. They were thinking they need to get in the game before the lose all of their customers to e-cigs.
This is probably what Lorillard was thinking when they bought Blu e cig. Even if they imagined e-cigarette to be a fad, they had gotten to the point where they couldn’t fit the revolution any longer in court and it was time to hedge their bets just in case. All of this leads us to Big Tobacco and their behavior now that they are actually part of the e-cig industry.
To say they’ve been supportive of the growth of their industry peers would be like saying they were truthful with America about the health risks of their tobacco cigarettes. Big Tobacco cares about Big Tobacco e-cigs and nobody else.
This is why as a lot of vapers began to move away from cigalike products and toward e-cig tanks and vaporizers, Big Tobacco began to fight it. Just as they fought the industry as a whole when it first came about, they now targeted the types of products they don’t sell. Namely that would be systems that allow users to fill up with their own e-liquid, along with any of the e-cig flavors they would like. That’s when Big Tobacco decided to go on the warpath again.
Big Tobacco Fights To Control The E-Vapor Business
RJ Reynolds used the tactic of actually lobbying the FDA against the sale of e-liquid, and specifically against e-cig flavors. Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, took them to task for this recently.
Conley wrote, “That’s right. A company that made $4.6 billion in profits in 2013, selling products that cause cancer, illness, and disease, asked the FDA to ban the products that are both preferred by consumers and proven to help people quit smoking.”
With neither Altria or Lorillard selling open system e-cig tanks or e-liquid, you can bet the other two of the “big three” tobacco companies are cheering them on.
It’s not as if we are naïve to the fact that electronic cigarette brands compete with each other and will look for an advantage. But there is a tradition within the industry of sticking together on core issues that affect everyone and, more than anything, trying to do what is right for the consumer.
This isn’t the type of behavior being exhibited by Big Tobacco and, even though we shouldn’t expect better, we were hoping that they wouldn’t go this route. If they weren’t going to help push the industry along, at least don’t get in the way of those that are.
We also don’t meant to vilify them completely, because the money that these huge profit makers bring to the table can really transform the industry for the better. We could see even better technologies than typical e-cig tanks and more advanced types of e-liquid. All that is needed is the funding and research that can lead us there.
In the meantime, what we are seeing is an intrusion by Big Tobacco into the e-cigarette revolution. They’re in for their cigalike products and they don’t want anyone else to play. It strikes us more and more that they are simply on a mission against other electronic cigarette brands instead of in competition with them. That isn’t good for anyone, especially not the consumer who deserves the options to choose the best e-cigs for his or her needs.