Surge of ecigs propel huge tobacco merger, and array of novel flavors in the Times

By Gil Ross — Jul 16, 2014
While the global tobacco market is being roiled by mergers and, especially, the disruptive growth of low-risk e-cigarettes/vapor products, the NYTimes decided to report on the surge in production sales to adults! of novel vaping flavors.

Vaporium EventIn the world of tobacco, Big and small, the times they are a-changin , indeed. Mostly for the better these days, thanks to the disruptive, groundbreaking entry and growth of low-risk nicotine-delivery products commonly known as e-cigarettes. This sector is, more and more, represented not only by the common cigalikes available in drugstores and convenience stores, but by personal vaporizers and tanks, mods, and other idiosyncratic handles that can be purchased in vape shops or vaporiums, or over the internet.

The desire, or need actually, to keep up with this burgeoning technology and market drove, to a major degree, the ongoing merger/purchase involving three of the biggest, global tobacco companies: RJR (officially RAI), Lorillard, and the UK s Imperial (the UK s BAT is also involved, somewhat involuntarily, as it owns 42 percent of RAI). The upshot, as best as we can fathom it, is that Lorillard will cease to exist independently after 250 years as a company, being bought out lock, stock and barrel by RJR. One exception: its market-leading e-cig, blu, is being transferred to Imperial probably to induce them to participate in this mega-deal to avoid, they hope, antitrust intervention by our FTC. OK so far?

What about the vaping market for RJR now (not to mention menthols)? They sound confident in their newly-released VUSE e-cigarette a cigalike to be sure but it s a sure bet that all the big tobacco players will be soon, if not already, going full speed ahead into the vaporizer field as well. They sense the desire of smokers trying to quit to use more pleasurable and effective methods to stay sober: off deadly toxic smokes. (Such flavors also help keep ex-smoking vapers away from relapse).

Vapers pleasures of getting their craved nicotine very often involve flavored products: yes, those flavors so targeted by know-nothing politicians and media types who love to over-simplify complex issues if doing so will get the attention of voters and readers, respectively. One of the more common myths about e-cigs spewed by those who oppose harm reduction to help smokers quit is that kid-friendly flavors will attract teens to vaping, nicotine addiction and (in a plot hatched by Big Tobacco) back to smoking cigarettes. But a careful reading of the Times Matt Richtel s article clearly documents the fact that flavored vapor products are overwhelmingly both preferred by, and purchased by, adults. (This is something of an accomplishment for the Times, which has been in the forefront of suspicion and fear-mongering about these products heretofore, often under the byline of this same Mr. Richtel).

So the world keeps on a-turnin , and the future would look relatively bright for the 42 million American smokers, given the efficacy and attractiveness of the new vapor devices.

Unfortunately, now we all smokers, vapers, and public-health folks have to await the finalization of the horrendous FDA deeming regulations, which if enacted as they were recently proposed will quash this entire industry and send what remains of it into the arms of Big Tobacco. Let s hope that does not happen.