Friday, February 22, 2013

Financial Analysts and Cigarette Companies Predict that Electronic Cigarettes Could Greatly Reduce Cigarette Consumption

Electronic cigarettes are here to stay. That is the conclusion of both tobacco companies which have moved into the e-cigarette space and financial analysts that specialize in following the tobacco space, according to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal.

According to the article: "The mainstreaming of electronic cigarettes to consumers is picking up speed, with Lorillard Inc. reported $61 million in sales for fiscal 2012 and capturing 30 percent of the market share, even though it has been in the category less than a year. ... Bonnie Herzog, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst, thinks the e-cig craze has shifted from “fad” to “here to stay,” in part because Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. are generating more consumer confidence in the products than most of the little-known marketers have to date. ... “This is a wonderful story of an industry that in another 10 years could have gone the way of the dinosaurs, but will not because science/innovation has been fashioned to fulfill consumers’ desire and demand,” said Stephen Pope, chief global market strategist with Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, said in an email. ... E-cigs said could grow fast enough that Herzog said they could affect the payments states receive from the landmark Master Settlement Agreement, which draws from traditional cigarette sales. Lower traditional cigarette sales are projected to lead to lower MSA payments from the manufacturers."

The Rest of the Story

Stating that the growth of electronic cigarettes could lead to a reduction in MSA payments to states is another way of saying that electronic cigarettes are such an effective substitute for tobacco cigarettes that they will reduce in a substantial reduction in cigarette consumption. And in turn, this means that the growth of electronic cigarettes will result in a substantial reduction in cigarette-related morbidity and mortality. In short, the more growth in the electronic cigarette space, the more lives of smokers that will be saved.

This has the potential to be a tremendous public health success story. But two things stand in the way. Ironically, they are:

1. Anti-smoking groups; and
2. One of the nation's chief public health agencies - the FDA.

Many anti-smoking groups and researchers continue to do everything they can to discourage smokers from trying to quit smoking using electronic cigarettes. In the very article which describes how useful electronic cigarettes are in reducing cigarettes sales and saving lives, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids discourages smokers from using these products to quit:
"Vince Williams, vice president of communications for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the growing use of e-cigs and increased marketing “underscore the need for the FDA to quickly assert jurisdiction over all tobacco products.” “The lack of regulation has allowed manufacturers to get away with claims that these products have been proven to be safer or can help smokers quit without having to provide any scientific evidence to a government agency that these claims are true,” Williams said. “We also don’t know what’s really in these products and what impact they have on health.”"

Is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids actually arguing that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that electronic cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes? (That's precisely what they are stating.)

Is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids actually challenging the contention that electronic cigarettes cannot help smokers quit, despite the tons of evidence that thousands of ex-smokers have quit using electronic cigarettes? (That, too, is precisely what they are stating.)

Is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids actually asserting that we don't know what's in electronic cigarette cartridges, despite the fact that we know exactly what is in these cartridges? Sadly, that's exactly what the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is stating, and that statement is a lie.

As I explained earlier this week, it is simply not true that we really don't know what the ingredients in electronic cigarettes are. There have been well over 20 studies that have identified the chemicals in electronic cigarette cartridges and/or vapor. Moreover, most electronic cigarette companies list the ingredients of their products right on their web sites.

There is certainly room for debate about the precise role of electronic cigarettes in smoking cessation and the nature of the regulatory framework that would be most appropriate for these products. But there is no room for lying about the facts to try to mislead the public and policy makers.

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