Reports from Big Tobacco: sales of cigarettes plummet. Why? They think it s because of vapor competition.

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BRITAIN-TOBACCO-SCIENCE-TECHNOLOGY-HEALTHThe latest figures are out from the Big Tobacco companies, and, as usual, their bottom lines are doing just fine. But the devil in the details are actually angels from a public health point of view, if the various product line results are closely observed.

The following data come from a well-respected Wells-Fargo market survey, conveyed by their tobacco expert analyst, Bonnie Herzog:

Based on results from our Q3 Tobacco Talk survey, we believe cigarette industry shipment volume was down around -5% during the quarter--lower than historical averages. This is driven by...the negative impact of vapor products. [Ed. note: Down by Five percent!]

Another typical report comes from RJReynolds, as noted in the Wall Street Journal: Reynolds American Inc. said cigarette volumes slipped again, but revenue and profit grew thanks in part to higher prices. The results topped analysts expectations. Reynolds, like its peers in the tobacco industry, has struggled with diminishing demand for cigarettes and the concurrent growth in the market for electronic cigarettes. The company said Tuesday that it would further expand its own e-cigarette brand, Vuse, to 70,000 retail outlets next week, with more growth planned for early next year.

The tobacco companies are doing OK, due to their long-term ability raise prices, and to shift tactics depending on the prevalent consumer/smoker, litigation and regulatory atmosphere. Moreover, sensing the marked shift among smokers from toxic, addictive combustible products cigarettes they have themselves shifted toward producing their own reduced-risk products: e-cigarettes (like the aforementioned Vuse, "cigalikes," which resemble cigarettes), mainly.

The tobacco companies harm-reduction shift is a salutary one for America s public health, since the inhalation of the few chemicals in electronic devices e-cigs and vapor products will undoubtedly lead to a marked reduction in smoking-related (actually nicotine-related, since e-products have no smoke) disease and death, if the innovative technology is allowed to flourish by our risk-averse regulators at the FDA. Most of the vaping public perhaps two-thirds of them now prefers the open systems: tanks, mods, personal vaporizers with customizable flavors and nicotine levels. These are not readily quantified by sales surveys, which tend to focus on convenience stores, gas stations and drug stores, which sell mostly Big Tobacco s cigalikes. The open systems are primarily sold online or in shops devoted to those products: vaporiums.

One thing must be highlighted: While the empirical evidence is stark the boom in reduced-risk e-devices is helping many smokers switch from deadly cigarettes, whose sales are declining not one voice is raised among our CDC, FDA, the big public health nonprofits, the academic centers, singing the praises of these miraculous devices in helping reduce the tragic toll of smoking. Having attacked them at every opportunity, they will now lie low until the evidence is in proving the link between vaping and quitting. By that time, they hope, those of us truly devoted to public health will have forgotten their perfidy and corruption. We will not.