Big Tobacco: A Threat?
Lorillard has already purchased Blu Cigs, one of the largest electronic cigarette companies… and in recent news, they also acquired the UK’s leading electronic cigarette company SKYCIG. In addition, Altria and RJ Reynolds have also taken a step into the industry, producing their own version of the electronic cigarette.
While some are thrilled with the extra attention that electronic cigarettes are receiving. Many aren’t pleased, others are on the fence.
A Vendor Prospective:
With big tobacco entering this industry, they have the funds to flood the market with advertising. This could force out the small companies that has made the e-cig industry what it is today. – Jason H., CrimsonVapor.com
A Consumer Prospective:
The reality is that this product is so rapidly changing the lives and fortunes of so many people, that labels like Big Tobacco don’t apply as simply as we might like. As vapers or advocates for vaping, we have to come up with new labels that define members of this industry by their actions and words and not their size or history.
We’ve seen much worse in these terms from companies who are not Big Tobacco and who are very distinctly members of the e-cigarette industry. An ideal regulatory future will require sacrifices for every company and in every facet of the industry to reach a common ground that is best for the end user, us. It will rapidly become clear who is willing to sacrifice and who isn’t. All we can do is support those that support vaping and fight against those that don’t, no matter what category they may fall into. – Kevin B., EcigAdvanced.com
Big tobacco has affected us all, whether you’re an e-cig company owner or a consumer. Though their past weighs heavily on us, it’s still our job as a vaping community to support those who are with us, and fight those who are against us.
It’d be much easier for vapers and the vaping industry to form our opinions if the influence and entry of Big Tobacco companies were a ‘black and white’ matter. Unfortunately, these companies, namely the ‘Big 3′, Altria, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard have painted something of a grey picture so far.
We have recently seen a lot of negative and a willingness to disassociate their e-cig products from the rest of the vaping industry and re-associate them with their arena of dominance, tobacco products. In some cases they’ve already deliberately moved to corner and crush the vaping industry, as in the case of SB 802 earlier this year in Oklahoma which was pushed forward by RJ Reynolds lobbyists in an effort to create a vacuum for the release of their new product, the Vuse.
Conversely, Lorillard hasn’t done much to change the path Blu was on before acquisition and hasn’t shown any signs of trying to push the rest of the industry out. Of course many would say it just makes business sense for Lorillard or any Big Tobacco company to do so. But thus far the company has been a public advocate for the potential of e-cigarettes through its CEO Murray Kessler, who expressed this attitude in our interview with him at the time of the acquisition and recently wrote a great piece for USA Today advocating for regulation that embraces tobacco harm reduction and the role of e-cigarettes therein. Lorillard has also been e-cigarettes biggest advertiser so far, perhaps doing more than anyone to get smokers to switch. Although the idea of a Big Tobacco company advertising on television gets people up in arms which might be troubling to some vapers, despite the good it likely results in for smokers everywhere. – Kevin B.
Big tobacco has certainly helped place a spotlight on the electronic cigarette industry, but the question is, do the pros outweigh the cons?
Can you look beyond big tobacco’s past or do you view them as a threat? Let us know in the comments section below.