Cigarette companies are starting fresh with E-cigarettes

On June 28, 2013, Carl Quintanilla, a CNBC anchor, posted a short clip on Vine showing Murray Kessler, CEO of Lorillard Tobacco, smoking an E-cigarette on the CNBC set at the New York Stock Exchange floor. In August 2012, Lorillard Tobacco made a bold and surprising move and purchased one of the largest e-cigarette brands, Blu Cigs, for $135 million! A little more than a year later, e-cigarettes are now becoming a bigger trend.

As cigarette sales are dropping, most tobacco companies have been introducing smokeless tobacco like snuff and snus to the market. But recently, there has been an increase in the prevalence of e-cigarette advertising on TV, in what many believe to be an attempt by the tobacco industry to counter the increased scrutiny of tobacco products, and their declining use.

According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are not a cessation device, and some studies have found arsenic in the vapor that is released when they are used. Many people look to e-cigarettes as a cessation product, however, companies cannot market their products this way without FDA regulation. So instead, e-cigarette companies are drawing on novelty appeals such as the ability to use e-cigarettes wherever people want, indoors or outdoors. Blu Cigs made a commercial based on this idea, and even refers it to as “taking back your freedom.” Some say e-cigarettes are safe because it is vapor, not smoke, however, carcinogens and toxic chemicals were detected in e-cigarettes and long term effects are not well known.

As e-cigarettes become more prominent, people are becoming concerned about the negative health effects of the product. Due to this, more states and local governments are trying to integrate e-cigarettes into their smoking policies. Most of these policies are geared toward restricting youth access, and states, like California, have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Several states have introduced bills which would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in a similar manner to regular cigarettes. California introduced SB 648 and if enacted, would do just that. It has already passed the California Senate and is now waiting for a hearing in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. Of the other states introducing smoke free air bills, Arkansas was able to pass one to prohibit e-cigarettes on public school property. At the local level, Contra Costa County in California enacted an ordinance that bans e-cigarettes from wherever traditional cigarettes are banned by amending their definition of “smoke,” “smoking” and “tobacco product.” This ordinance also bans e-cigarettes in multi-unit housing and requires retailers selling e-cigarettes to have a tobacco retailer license. Communities around the state have taken similar steps. Check the Center’s new list on communities that include e-cigarettes in their local tobacco retail license here.

–Stacy Song


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