What Do Smokeless Cigarettes Have To Do With Big Tobacco Companies?
Can you answer the question of whether we can trust big tobacco companies to make smokeless cigarettes? Everyone has an opinion on important questions and this is a timely question. Why? The reason for this question is because smokeless cigarettes are becoming more popular among smokers the world over.
Smokeless cigarettes allow smokers who are not ready to quit, consuming their nicotine without burning a dried plant and contaminating the air surrounding them with the more than four thousand chemicals created by burning cigarettes. The marketing potential of the smokeless cigarette has, and almost surely will continue, to attract the attention of the big tobacco companies.
Right at this moment smokeless cigarettes do not have a connection to big tobacco companies. The hardware and cartridges or nicotine liquid used with smokeless cigarettes are produced by relatively small companies. The cost of cartridges in most areas is relatively minimal (in most cases less expensive than traditional cigarettes) and the results are generally pleasing to the smoker and a relief to those who live or work around them.
Some people use smokeless cigarettes as a smoking cessation device (although not specifically manufactured for this purpose, the author has seen them work well for some people), others use these devices as a more socially acceptable alternative to smoking in public.
Why Ask If We Can Trust Big Tobacco Companies to Produce Smokeless Cigarettes?
Here is the crux of the debate in the smokeless cigarette user community. Where there is profit there will be interested parties. Big tobacco companies already have a ready source of nicotine (the unprocessed plants), they have the infrastructure and resources to launch massive advertising and promotional campaigns and they of course have an eye toward making more profit.
As the movement toward smokeless cigarettes (also known as electronic cigarettes) grows beyond mere novelty, it naturally attracts the attention of larger companies seeking new products and outlets for their resources, in other words the big tobacco companies. This leads to the current debate and the two sides of the argument as to whether big tobacco companies can be trusted to produce electronic cigarettes.
There are pros and cons to every choice we make. This is particularly true when considering the issue of big tobacco companies producing smokeless cigarettes. While no discussion of this nature can be totally neutral, we will attempt to present both sides and the positive and negative arguments in as unbiased a way as possible. I do warn you at the end of this post the author will insert personal opinions and his own conclusions on the debate, which you can take or leave as you choose.
Yes! Big Tobacco Companies Can Be Trusted To Make Electronic Cigarettes!
Let’s examine the pro big tobacco company argument. Proponents of this argument state correctly, that big tobacco companies have the experience and product with which to produce and promote smokeless cigarettes in a big way. What that might translate to in benefits is a wider acceptance and use of these smokeless nicotine delivery devices. What this can translate to is more profit for the foundering big tobacco producers and less burning plant matter (cigarettes) polluting the in-home and public atmosphere. Larger companies entering the market might even lower the price of smokeless cigarettes as they usually have their own wholesale sources of raw nicotine.
Furthermore, those who are pro-big tobacco companies making smokeless cigarettes note that if they enter the market then government regulation is almost certain to follow close behind. At present manufacturers of electronic cigarettes are not overly regulated by governmental agencies in most countries. Standardizing and regulating the industry can have benefits for the consumer since they will presumably know how much nicotine is in each cartridge or refill regardless of who the manufacturer is.
The three most consistent points made by these pro big tobacco company consumers are:
1. The ready source of raw nicotine possessed by big tobacco companies can lower the cost of manufacturing smokeless cigarettes and hence make a reasonably priced product even less expensive.
2. The infrastructure of the industry possessed by big tobacco companies could make delivery of smokeless cigarettes as easy as going to the corner shop and picking out a brand. Once more this targets the argument that the more smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes, the cleaner the air may become.
3. The big tobacco companies have the experience in advertising to make smokeless cigarettes more palatable to the public. Again the argument that a wider spread use of the product benefits everyone comes into play.
When summing up the arguments, the one common note is that big tobacco companies can get the raw resources easily, and they can promote smokeless cigarettes with a media blast. There is almost unanimous agreement among smokeless cigarette users that these are a cleaner way to ingest nicotine and less likely to harm those around the nicotine user and yet still satisfying.
Now is a good time to point out that though these arguments do have some validity, none ever approach the issue of “can we trust big tobacco companies”. Instead the proponents of big tobacco companies making these products rely on the known resources of the industry to promote and distribute the electronic cigarettes to a much wider consumer base than smaller companies are as yet capable of doing. Now, it is time to look at the other side of the argument.
No! We Definitely Can’t Trust Big Tobacco Companies to Make Smokeless Cigarettes
Trust is a matter of judgment and not everyone will arrive at the same conclusions given the same facts. However, there are some basic issues that keep surfacing when the topic of big tobacco companies making smokeless cigarettes is brought up in conversations. The issue is the historical actions of tobacco companies, particularly when their profits have been threatened.
Almost everyone who smokes and many non-smokers are aware of the less than above-board actions of the big tobacco companies when it came down to attempting to cover up the effects of smoking on the smoker and the effects of second-hand smoke. Millions were awarded in settlements in court, and stricter regulations on advertising were imposed after that debacle. Age restrictions on the sale of tobacco were instituted or tightened in many countries.
Just when the dust settled and the settlements were being handed out, some major tobacco companies were found to be adding chemicals to cigarettes which made them more addictive. This is a truncated history of the big tobacco companies thus far. It necessarily leaves out many smaller scandals, but for many people, the word trust, and big tobacco companies are not terms that belong together.
Trust Plus Big Tobacco Companies Is An Oxymoron
The fact that trust is not something that should be extended to a group so anti-consumer oriented is a strong argument with those against big tobacco companies entering this market. Can we the consumer trust big tobacco companies to make smokeless cigarettes? Based on historical observations only, many people feel we can’t. The smokeless tobacco industry is as yet in its infancy.
Many consumers feel that big tobacco companies bring with them a poor history and the potential to swallow the independent producers and limit competition. Add to that the inevitable government scrutiny, regulations, possible rise in taxation and prices to pay for the scrutiny and you have what is felt to be a no-win situation.
Thus far the most persuasive and consistent arguments against trusting big tobacco companies to make smokeless cigarettes are:
1. Historically big tobacco companies have reacted in ways that are contrary to the public interest and to the health of the consumer by covering up facts to protect their incredibly healthy profits. While some argue that management may have changed, the fact remains that these companies engaged in what many consider deliberate misrepresentation and even criminal negligence.
2. Big tobacco companies entering this emerging market with all their resources and the proceeds of decades of unregulated profiteering will almost certainly swallow up most of the smaller companies resulting in a small group of big tobacco companies controlling a sizeable market. When this happens, this small group also controls the prices of those products and those prices are almost always are raised to as much as the market will bear.
3. Governmental regulation is good in many ways, but governments also have a history with big tobacco companies. They almost surely will impose taxes, regulations and oversights on the industry that are now felt to be relatively unnecessary. More taxes, more oversight and big business may well bring the prices of smokeless cigarettes above the means of the average consumer.
That is where the debate and the two major sides stand at this point and time. Knowing the facts, knowing your own or your loved one’s history with big tobacco companies may leave you in one camp or the other, or completely undecided on the issue.
I can add little to either side of the debate. However, rather than can you trust big tobacco companies to make smokeless cigarettes, I feel you should ask if you should trust big tobacco companies to make smokeless cigarettes. You can trust anyone once. You might trust anyone twice, despite their actions. However, when the actions of a company or special interest groups are consistently profit oriented and ignore the cost in human lives and health, trusting them again seems nothing short of foolish.
What are your thoughts? Would you prefer the big companies to produce smokeless cigarettes? Or are things fine the way they are with the direction the e cig industry is going? Let us know your thoughts below!