Friday, April 27, 2012

Why do vapers still believe Big Tobacco is 'evil?'

With the recent announcement from Blu Electronic Cigarettes that it has been sold to Lorillard Tobacco company, panic seems to be spreading through the e-cigarette community. Many vapers seem to harbor a hatred for "Big Tobacco" and have expressed disgust, outrage, distrust and fear that the industry will now turn e-cigarettes into what they were trying to escape. Here are some personal thoughts about the situation that I posted on a community forum, in response to comments that Big Tobacco was not to be trusted with e-cigarettes:

Are any of u planning on buying any pv hardware or liquids from a company that has previously tried to knowingly kill us?????

How on earth could we ever trust that they would sell us the best that is available?

Do you still buy products from the automobile industry? Did you know the automobile industry knew that seat belts and air bags would save lives, yet fought having them be mandatory in cars? Or they knew for 30 years about the problem of spontaneous acceleration, yet covered it up and continues to deny it?

Do you still buy medications - both prescription and over the counter? Yet everyone has heard of the myriad of denials and cover ups made over the years by Big Pharma - Chantix, Avandia, Paxil - were all killing people and BP lied, denied and hide the facts. Still, people do not claim BP knowingly tried to kill people.

The denials and cover up of "Big Tobacco" were no different or worse than any of those perpetrated by other industries, yet they are still vilified while other companies get a free pass time and again. The fact is, while smoking is highly dangerous, it doesn't kill every user or even most users; there are more people today who have quit smoking than smoke and anyone who has ever smoked cannot pretend that they didn't feel the negative effects of smoking on their body and believed it was still good for them or perfectly safe. Those tobacco executives who participated in that cover up and denial are long gone. It's a well-known fact that smoking can be bad for you and has been since the 1950's, but so are a lot of other things that are sold to people today. It's fully informed, personal choice now whether or not to take the risk and has been for some time. It was well known in the 1980's when I made the choice to start smoking - whether the tobacco companies admitted it was addictive or not. The tobacco companies weren't knowingly "trying to kill" me, because I shouldn't have started smoking in the first place.

Now the question becomes, will they be "smart" with their purchase and marketing plan... If so, and if they do not re-introduce all of the "nasty" things that are in the good old analogs, they could have something here. 

I would not mind purchasing supplies from them as long as I know they are not trying to kill me like the normal smokes will. I also would be concerned about pricing and the fact that it might go up. I guess it depends on how much the government wants to step in on this and how much "pocket padding" BT is willing to pay to make this work.

Because of the general mistrust of tobacco companies, Lorillard has to know it will be under extreme scrutiny - something other e-cigarette companies haven't had to deal with...yet. If anything, Lorillard will be motivated to produce the cleanest, safest e-liquid possible because of that scrutiny - and they'll probably promote that fact. (From my understanding, the deal with Johnson Creek is not going to end anytime soon anyhow.) Additionally, unlike with tobacco - which has thousands of NATURAL ingredients within which to hide the toxic additives people believe are added to cigarettes - it would be very difficult to add toxic chemicals to something that basically has only 3 or 4 "generally regarded as safe" ingredients without being discovered.

As far as prices, Lorillard has the ability to make much larger purchases and negotiate prices with manufacturers - which will help them compete and keep prices low. I'm sure they are well aware that the high costs of regular cigarettes, a lot due to taxation, is partly why people quit smoking or switch to e-cigarettes and keeping the cost low is a strong selling point. It also gives them incentive to fight unjustified sin taxes on e-cigarettes - something that will benefit the industry as a whole.

The whole point of e-cigarettes for most people are low health risks and low price. It would be counter-productive for Lorillard to buy into the industry and remove those two greater incentives. It would be like large food company buying a popular and successful organic health food company and changing all of the ingredients to be non-organic and full of preservatives, fat and sugar. Why would anyone buy their product then?? It just wouldn't make sense.

There is the risk that Lorillard will try to negotiate with the FDA (like Philip Morris did with the FSPTCA), resulting in regulations that could essentially wipe out anything other than a blu-style device, pre-filled cartos and tobacco flavors and acquiesce sin taxes and public use bans. I can guess that CASAA would NOT support that! I hope they truly understand how vapers are a different breed - we won't go quietly into the night like we did as smokers. Lorillard needs to understand that they have a really great market with the starter vapers and don't need to destroy the cottage companies that specialize in the upgrade devices and boutique liquids. They will see a lot of consumer backlash if they attempt to move against those types of products and I will be out front leading the charge if I have to!

I don't know, this really bothers me. We all know BT has spent countless hours of research and ungodly amounts of money to make their products as addictive as possible. I have no doubt that they won't stoop that low now, and then we're back to square one again (IMHO) They'd be enslaving people to their all new product.

I believe that vaping is much safer than smoking but I don't want them dipping their dirty corrupt fingers in my juice and messing with my brain chemistry again. I just feel like we'd be stepping backwards and lose some of the benefits we've all gained by getting away from them *sigh*

Remember when opposition started coming out against e-cigarettes and everyone assumed it was big, evil tobacco trying to eliminate the competition? Remember how shocked we all were that it wasn't Big Tobacco, but all of the health groups who we thought would now be happy that we didn't smoke anymore? Remember how interesting it was to find out that so many of those opposing health groups were in the pocket of Big Pharma?

Now think of this: Once it was obvious e-cigarettes were here to stay, either Big Pharma or Big Tobacco were bound to get into the e-cigarette industry. It was inevitable. Which would you trust more to handle that business now?

An industry which was called out 30 years ago for refusing to admit what everyone already knew anyhow - that smoking wasn't good for you and was potentially addicting; has made attempts to create safer products for its consumers; is under great public scrutiny and is sympathetic to people who want to use tobacco/nicotine products recreationally and without being vilified and ostracized by society?

Original Artwork: Mike Keefe, The Denver Post
Or an industry that has secretly been behind all of the lies about e-cigarettes and smokeless alternatives; lied to get smokers/vapers banned from just about everywhere; financially supported groups that made smokers, tobacco users and nicotine users social pariahs in order to guilt them into buying their gums and patches and increase their profits; lied about and/or hid the relative safety of smoke-free alternatives (effectively killing millions of smokers who would have otherwise switched); perpetuated the "quit or die" standard in order to sell more gums and patches and increase their profits; lied and/or hid the dangerous effects of Chantix; lied and/or hid the fact that NRT are highly ineffective, yet continue to tell people they are "safe and effective, so use them instead of smoke-free alternatives," which is effectively keeping smokers smoking (and endangering their health) every time the gums and patches fail?

You could say "neither," but then all you would be left with the e-cigarette industry, which is unorganized, unregulated, fly-by-night; has largely refused to step up and implement the most basic manufacturing and ethical sales standards in nearly 10 years; has been largely MIA in the fight against bans, taxes and sales restrictions and has only one representative organization that is apparently willing to throw everyone else under the bus to make their business model of the pre-filled, tobacco flavored carto the FDA standard.

It baffles me how vapers continue to see Big Tobacco as some inherently untrustworthy and unethical entity knowing what Big Pharma and the ANTZ groups have perpetrated over the past 30 years - lying and covering up the facts- at the expense of public health, in order to make a billions in profits. Especially since it was the ANTZ who have worked tirelessly to provide the "evidence" to demonize the tobacco industry in the eyes of the public (for doing exactly the same thing) and giving smokers a reason not to hold themselves accountable for their own actions.

Think about it - everything you know, all of the evidence about Big Tobacco, came from the same people who are now telling the public that "Big E-cigarettes" are targeting kids with the tasty flavors that no adult would use; contain anti-freeze, other toxic chemicals and carcinogens; are possibly more addicting than cigarettes; that vapers are just underhandedly trying to circumvent smoking bans and their vapor could be harmful to bystanders, so the industry is lobbying legislators to keep it legal to use publicly. They are twisting the facts, exaggerating, guessing and even telling outright lies to protect their profits. Doesn't that make you the least bit suspicious about what they've been telling you about Big Tobacco?

Opinions posted on this blog are those solely of the author(s) and do not represent the opinon, views or policy of any organization or company with which the author(s) may be otherwise associated.

Friday, April 20, 2012

American Legacy Foundation Called for Removal of E-Cigarettes from Market Without Disclosing its Financial Ties to Big Pharma

Dr. Michael Siegel
Boston University School of Public Health
The American Legacy Foundation released a policy statement on electronic cigarettes, in which it called for the removal of these products from the market. The statement was entitled "The FDA Should Take Electronic Cigarettes Off The Market Until It Is Satisfied That They Are Safe and Effective."

According to the statement: "While we remain open to promising products that can help smokers quit smoking, a consideration of all of the available evidence combined with important unanswered questions strongly supports our call on the FDA to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes unless and until the FDA is satisfied that they are safe and effective."

I have already explained why this is an inappropriate policy suggestion that would result in severe public health harm. There is little doubt that these products are helping literally thousands of people to remain smoke-free and that removing them from the market would result in thousands of ex-smokers returning to cigarette smoking because e-cigarettes are no longer available. I have also explained how this policy statement misrepresents the scientific evidence, as it suggests that electronic cigarettes present a carcinogenic risk, although the actual laboratory findings show that only trace levels of carcinogens are present in these products, comparable to the levels of carcinogens present in nicotine gum and nicotine patches -- products which the American Legacy Foundation has no concerns regarding safety. Moreover, the levels of carcinogens in electronic cigarettes are more than 1000 times lower than in Marlboros, meaning that these products can dramatically reduce a smoker's cancer risk.

This commentary, however, focuses on another issue: the question of the objectivity of the policy statement and whether or not Legacy appropriate revealed conflicts of interest that may be perceived as affecting Legacy's position and its reporting of the scientific evidence.
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