Skip to comments.E-cigarettes reignite tobacco wars
Posted on 01/24/2014 3:53:51 PM PST by Second Amendment First
E-cigarettes are so popular that even long-time smoker John Boehners been seen on occasion puffing one and Big Tobacco wants to keep it that way.
Big players in the tobacco world are betting the new electronic devices will surpass regular cigarette sales in the next 10 years, a multi-billion dollar boon for an industry thats seen its profits tank over the last 50 years.
But the Food and Drug Administration is set to decide soon whether the e-cigarette market should remain the Wild West, unfettered by strict advertising and other rules that apply to normal cigarettes. The looming FDA decision and increased attention on Capitol Hill and state capitals have set off a lobbying frenzy in Washington and across the country.
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The industry remembers what happened the last time government stepped in millions of Americans extinguished their smoking habit. So this time Big Tobacco will fight just as hard or harder to protect its turf, even if if means reigniting the Tobacco Wars.
We believe that regulatory and tax policies should encourage smokers of combustible cigarettes to switch to e-cigarettes, said Michael Shannon, vice president of Lorillard, arguing that e-cigarettes should be treated differently than traditional cigarettes because they are different products. We welcome reasonable FDA regulation on e-cigarettes, but feel strongly that regulatory policy should not stifle what may be the most promising tobacco harm reduction product ever.
The industrys pitch: The battery-powered cigarettes dont contain tobacco, so they will help hard-core smokers switch to a safer alternative, helping save lives.
Even though the Big Tobacco companies have not been able to advertise on TV for four decades, e-cigarette ads are now blanketing the airwaves with the firms taking full advantage of the lack of federal restrictions on their products.
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Marlboro-maker Altria Group Inc., got in the market with its MarkTen electronic cigarette, Reynolds American unveiled the VUSE electronic cigarette and Lorillard acquired blu e-cigarettes. Other big money backers like Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker have gotten in the action. Hes among a group that invested $75 million in Njoy, which markets its product as a way to quit smoking.
But Big Tobaccos emergence in this new market has given ammunition to critics who say e-cigarettes which turn nicotine and other chemicals into an inhalable vapor and whose health effects are not fully known are a back-door way for the tobacco giants to regain their prominence by hooking a new wave of smokers onto nicotine.
Even independent e-cigarette makers say that the emergence of Big Tobacco in the marketplace only complicates their argument that their products will help wean the country off of tobacco and should not be regulated as such.
Richard Carmona, the former U.S. surgeon general who now sits on the board of Njoy Inc., an e-cigarette maker not affiliated with a tobacco company, says that his companys goal is to make tobacco obsolete.
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But given Big Tobaccos huge investment in e-cigarettes, Carmona acknowledges that it confuses the industrys argument.
I talk to people today, and they say, How can you get in bed with tobacco companies? said Carmona, a Democrat who lost a 2012 Senate race in Arizona. I say, Im not. I say, Njoy is not a tobacco company.
The issue isnt completely new on Capitol Hill and many lawmakers who smoke or are trying to quit have been spotted using e-cigarettes, including Boehner and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). But the industry isnt relying on potential customers on Capitol Hill to defend the industry.
To push its position, Lorillard has done everything from typical shoe leather lobbying to featuring its blu e-cigarettes on signs at a smoking tent it sponsored at the annual Taste of the South bash, an event that draws hundreds of Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers, largely from southern states.
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The law firm Dickstein Shapiro billed $2.6 million to Lorillard in lobbying fees for the first nine months of 2013, according to federal lobbying reports. The firms reported monitoring all federal and legislative action related to e-cigarettes, among other issues for the company. Lorillard also has Strategic Action Public Affairs on retainer, including GOP strategists Stuart Roy and Blain Rethemeier to work on blu and e-cigarette issues.
Blu has even enlisted Hollywood stars like Jenny McCarthy and Stephen Dorff to hock its products, something that is verboten for traditional cigarette brands like Marlboro. A consultant for Lorillard said blu selected its celebrity spokespeople, the placement of the advertisements featuring these individuals and the events in which they appear to be consistent with blus goal of reaching smokers and vapers 18 years of age [or] older. Both McCarthy and Dorff are over 40 years old.
Lorillard is hardly alone. Altria and Reynolds American paid big in Washington in 2013, spending $7.8 million and more than $1.7 million, during the first nine months of 2013 on lobbying, respectively, though the companies and their consultants did not specify electronic cigarettes on the reports. Independently-owned Njoy meanwhile beefed up in Washington by hiring the Downey McGrath Group in November. The company also paid Shockey Scofield Solutions $80,000 over six months of work, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports.
The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, which represents industry manufacturers, importers, brick and mortar and online retailers, wholesalers and distributors, organized an inaugural fly-in last November, bringing representatives of 24 electronic cigarette manufacturers, distributors and retailers for nearly 50 meetings with lawmakers and aides. During the two-day event, the group attracted roughly 70 attendees at a Capitol Hill event where industry reps mingled and showed off some of their products. It has also circulated draft legislation specifying that the products should regulated appropriately and proportionately and not treated like traditional combustible cigarettes.
Another trade association ECIG is also upping its presence. Headed by Eric Criss, the group, which largely represents manufacturers who sell there products in brick and mortar stores, is opening a Washington office this month. The trade group has brought on JP Moery, formerly of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to run the D.C. operation. Chuck Conn0r, formerly president of the American Lung Association is a consultant for the group. Additionally ECIG uses Troutman Sanders to help it with state attorneys general, state government affairs and advising on FDA issues.
The stepped-up lobbying comes at a critical time. Last month, New York City extended its public smoking ban to e-cigarettes, and scores of other cities and states are looking to do the same. And states as diverse as West Virginia, California and Hawaii are looking at potentially treating the products like traditional cigarettes, battles the industry is closely monitoring or outright battling.
The big cigarette companies have really come into the market with vengeance, said Stanton Glantz, a leading advocate for tougher e-cigarette laws and a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco. Theyve pretty much unleashed their whole political lobbying arm to protect their interests.
At the same time, the FDA is weighing whether it has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes and other types of tobacco prodcuts in a similar fashion as traditional combustible tobacco products. If it does make that determination, the e-cigarettes could be subject to the same level of regulations as regular cigarettes, including higher taxes and tougher restrictions on advertising and marketing. An FDA spokeswoman declined to comment on the timing of the long-awaited regulation.
I think FDA has got to step up, and start to regulate e-cigarettes, said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Because look whats happening: More and more young people are getting hooked on them. I mean, it is a drug. Youre still getting nicotine. Youre still getting hooked on a drug.
But any decision to regulate the product is almost certain to be met with litigation as it was in 2010 when a federal judge ruled against FDA and said the agency could not regulate the product under its authority to oversee medical devices meaning any new restrictions are certain to be years away.
Critics of the industry say at the very least the companies marketing practices need to be reined in that they should be off TV and that they should not target children, the way cigarette companies did to much success in previous generations.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the companies are using the same promotion tactics that cigarette companies did to addict children and lure them into lifetimes of addiction.
There is a reason that the cigarette companies are buying these products: They want to use them as a backdoor, as a sidedoor, said Blumenthal, who last month joined a group of Democratic senators calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the firms marketing practices.
But not all public health advocates feel the same way. Some in the community argue that the devices should be encouraged to heavy smokers who refuse to quit, just like nicotine patches and gum provide a safer alternative to smoking. And that divide has allowed proponents of the industry to characterize hard-line critics as blinded by their hatred of Big Tobacco.
The question is, is the opposition to [e-cigarettes] really an opposition to tobacco or tobacco companies? said Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from the tobacco-rich state of North Carolina.
Cynthia Cabrera, head of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, said adding the power of Big Tobacco has helped add a voice to their case.
Its always helpful to have someone who has been in the trenches, said Cabrera, who noted that the bulk of the industry is made up of small and medium-sized companies with less than 350 employees.
....RATS can’t get the taxes they get from demonizing tobacco. They can’t control them
If the tobacco companies want to get involved in e-cigs, they are going to try to get them as regulated as possible. They cannot compete on quality or price, so their only real option is to use an oppressive, big government as their enforcer.
Anyone looking for onerous regulations on electronic cigarettes is the best friend of tobacco companies.
Anyone looking to regulate electronic cigarettes completely out of existence is the best friend of pharmaceutical companies, tax agencies, and possibly casket manufacturers.
It's all about the Fourth Reich, and always has been.
An OBVIOUS shakedown for campaign contributions.
POLITICO is such a pathetic Dem propaganda organ they actively work to hide the OBVIOUS.
.. al-most punched the monitor !
The smoking wars are over. Common sense won.
Tobacco isn't going away any time soon. This one is untaxed by an out-of-control government.
Bullsh**. Three months after Obama was elected to his first term, he jacked up the tobacco tax by 50%. A 3.00 pack of cigarettes now costs 6.00. It destroyed the HaveATampa cigar company and put it out of business, because they could no longer afford the taxes and regulations. And that company had been in business for almost 60 years. Three thousand people who worked for that company lost their jobs. Ironically, most of them were Cuban-American refugees and their descendants.
do you grow it in a pot, or will you be transplanting it later?
I will plant my normal crop (many plants) outside in the big garden.
Common sense would dictate that if tobacco were so bad they would ban it instead of taxing it. The whores are in it for the money, nothing else. Be careful. They may come after something you do next. It’s only common sense.
Shouldn't you be PRAISING the smoking of marijuana like good liberals do?
Heck the Prez even says smoking MJ is cool.
Gotta be "consistent" and come out for smoking GOOD leaves.
I second that
E cigs are harmless unless you don’t tolerate nicotine or take too much
I detest behavior nazis