Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Financial Analyst Predicts that E-Cigarette Sales Will Surpass Tobacco Cigarette Sales by 2021; Primary Obstacle to this Dream Come True: The Anti-Smoking Movement

Bonnie Herzog, a tobacco financial analyst with Wells Fargo, has predicted that by 2021, sales of electronic cigarettes will actually surpass those of tobacco cigarettes, according to an article at NACS Online.

According to the article: "Herzog said that U.S. e-cigarette sales will reach roughly $2 billion by the end of this year and up to $10 billion by 2017. She expects Altria, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard to take an increasing presence in the category, which will accelerate its growth. Herzog based her projection on three factors: The manufacturers’ ability to invest in the electronic cigarettes; their supply chain relationships with retailers and distributors; and their expertise at building successful brands. ... However, Herzog’s predictions can be upset by the FDA’s decision to regulate electronic cigarettes, said Carl Philips, scientific director for Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association. 'We remain cautiously optimistic that the regulations will favor consumers and public health, which will mean not imposing the restrictions that favor large manufacturers.'"

The Rest of the Story

If Herzog's prediction is true, then electronic cigarettes may be one of the most effective public health interventions of all time. to reduce the sale of tobacco cigarettes so much that it is surpassed by electronic cigarettes would represent a drastic reduction in cigarette consumption and a tremendous accomplishment in terms of disease averted and lives saved.

Ironically, as Carl Phillips points out, the primary obstacle to this positive scenario is the anti-smoking establishment and its efforts to derail the electronic cigarette movement. If embraced by the FDA, this could result in a major obstacle for the expansion of the e-cigarette market, and therefore, for the decrease in the tobacco cigarette market.

Already, the sale of electronic cigarettes has resulted in unexpected declines in cigarette sales. What I don't understand is why anti-smoking groups continue to fail to appreciate that this is a demonstrable public health gain. The burden of cigarette-related disease and death is directly proportional to levels of cigarette consumption. Some of the major anti-smoking groups and advocates fail to understand that basic equation.

While there is no question that appropriate regulation of electronic cigarettes is necessary to keep these products out of the hands of minors and to ensure uniform quality and safety standards, the current evidence strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes have the potential to greatly benefit the public's health. It is unfortunate that such gains are going to be realized despite the efforts of anti-smoking groups rather than because of their efforts.

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