“Big Tobacco” and E-cigarettes — Win or Fail?
A lot has been said, pro and con, about Big Tobacco entering into the e-cig marketplace. Many believe that they should butt out; others see it as a boon to the community — more visibility, more American R&D and devices, more e-liquid choices. One of my vaping cohorts joined me the other day for after work adult beverages and rumination began….
“Man, this whole deal with Lorillard buying up Blu and Philip Morris going after juice vendors chaps my hide,” Darren (and I use his real name because sometimes he’s a tool) said. “The last thing we need is for these Big Tobacco punks to ruin our gig as vapers.”
I grabbed the last hot wing from the appetizer platter before he could reach it to teach him a lesson and said, “Where’s your mother tonight? I’d like to call her and tell her she failed miserably as a parent. What’s the problem with your so-called Big Tobacco getting into the e-cig business anyway?”
“For one thing, smart guy, they’re big corporate scum. They have all these high-powered lobbyists greasing palms in Washington and screwing everyone over every chance they get. Can you imagine what their e-cigs would be like?”
This from a guy who moments before cursed like a sailor on shore leave in the Philippines because the second carto out his new box of five had no air holes punched into the base…and the same guy who complained because his new clearomizer made his Boba’s Bounty taste like burnt urine. “So remind me again what you do for a living?” I asked.
“You know what I do. I’m a commercial real estate agent,” he said
“And doesn’t the real estate industry have almost as many lobbyists working for it as the next three professions combined?”
“Yeah, but we have to…the government has so many Byzantine laws and regulations and restrictions that you have to have people looking out for you in the Beltway .”
“Well, now isn’t that special…your industry HAS to have lobbyists, but tobacco manufacturers are scum for trying to do the same thing….” I muttered in between sips of Foster’s. “So let me ask you this…what if tomorrow I opened a real estate brokerage firm called ‘Southeby’s’ and started making insinuations I was your company, Sotheby’s? What would you guys do?”
“We’d shut your punk rear-end down in a skinny minute,” he said proudly. We’d protect our name and reputation.”
“You mean like the makers of Marlboro and Winston did with people selling ‘Marboro’ and ‘Winson’ e-juices?”
He was about to say “That’s different!” but thought wiser of it…. “But why should they be getting into the e-cig business? They’re gonna ruin it, I’m telling you. You wait and see, radio-boy.”
“For the same reason Sotheby’s, the very outfit you work for, branched out of the auction business and got into real estate. Did that ruin the real estate market? No. So quiet down and order another round.”
After our waitress, who was too cute by half, brought us our drinks and the check, I leaned across the table and said “Look…see that carto you through over there? How many duds have you bought in the past 3 months?”
“I dunno, maybe a dozen total.”
“And weren’t you the one whining to me yesterday about the clearos you bought that sucked? Listen, I’m not saying that these guys are gonna revolutionize the vape world, but who knows? But the fact of the matter is, when was the last time you bought a pack of cigarettes that didn’t have tobacco in them? Or when was the last time you bought a pack and the filters were in the middle instead of the end? When was the last time you bought Marlboro Reds and the cigarettes inside were menthol?”
“Yeah, alright…but I still don’t like it.”
“I know you don’t, fella,” I said reassuringly. “It’s hard to like companies with billions of dollars at their disposal spending it on R&D and improving manufacturing standards and mass-production techniques.”
“Alright, already, shut up already, before I stick you with the check.”
I calmly leaned back and lifted the ice-cold Foster’s to my lips and didn’t say another word. My mother has her issues, but I can say with great sincerity that she did not raise a fool who gets stuck with checks.