Tuesday, March 11, 2014

E-Cigarettes are a Gateway to Cigarette Use and Inhibit Quitting? Then Why is the Decline in Cigarette Consumption Accelerating?

According to Stan Glantz and a number of anti-smoking groups and agencies, including the CDC, electronic cigarettes have been shown to be a gateway to youth smoking. In addition, Glantz maintains that electronic cigarettes inhibit quitting among current smokers. Thus, in the opinions of these groups, the use of electronic cigarettes is exacerbating, rather than ameliorating the cigarette smoking epidemic.

Well, the 2013 numbers are in and they simply do not support the Glantz/CDC conclusions.

The Rest of the Story

According to figures from Reynolds American, domestic cigarette volume declined by 4.6% in 2013, compared to just 2.3% in 2012. In other words, the rate of decline in total cigarette consumption doubled in 2013. Because of the growing population, this means that per capita cigarette consumption declined even more strikingly in 2013.

According to the Reynolds American summary: "Cigarette industry volume was down 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and down 4.6 percent for the year. This was a challenging comparison as industry volume declines were below trend in the prior-year periods -- industry volumes were down 0.8 percent in the quarter and down 2.3 percent in 2012. ... When looking at industry volume declines over the past several years, they are about 3.5 percent."

Thus, even accounting for market volatility, it appears that there was a substantial decline in expected cigarette consumption in 2013. This hardly seems consistent with the drastic proliferation of electronic cigarettes that are supposedly driving youth to start smoking and smokers to continue smoking rather than quit.

Philip Morris also reported that its own figures show a decline in domestic cigarette units sold in 2013 compared to 2012:

"PM USA’s 2013 fourth-quarter and full-year reported domestic cigarettes shipment volume decreased 5.8% and 4.1%, respectively, primarily due to the industry’s rate of decline, changes in trade inventories and other factors, partially offset by retail share gains. When adjusted for trade inventories and other factors, PM USA estimates that its domestic cigarettes shipment volume was down approximately 4% for both the fourth quarter and the full year, which is consistent with the estimated category decline."

Again, these declines reinforce the finding that domestic cigarette unit sales were substantially lower in 2013 compared to 2012, despite the tremendous proliferation of electronic cigarettes and the dramatic rise in electronic cigarette use among youths. Again, this hardly seems consistent with the hypothesis that the proliferation of electronic cigarettes is driving youth to start smoking and smokers to continue smoking rather than quit.

As I've already noted, however, it is quite clear that Glantz, the CDC, and most anti-smoking groups are no longer driven by data and science. Ideology has pretty much taken over. And that ideology is an abstinence-only philosophy. If you're still inhaling nicotine and you are still using a device that looks like a cigarette, you are still a smoker in their book. Even if you have just saved your life.

(Thanks to Bill Godshall for the tip.)

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