The Growing Shadow of Big Tobacco

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E-Cigarettes have become the center of increasing controversy since their popularization in the early 2010s. Given that they are so new, controversy should be expected. The same can be said of the advent of mobile phones. Everyone thought the radio waves from mobile devices would cause a user to develop brain cancer. Despite the controversy surrounding e-cigarettes, sales have continued to rise. This is probably an indication of the population’s confidence in e-cigarettes; at least when put up against the old, looming giant of the cigarette industry. E-cigarettes have been the first real challenge against big tobacco in centuries.

Since the sudden and sharp rise of the new contender, big tobacco has been pushing heavily for regulation of e-cigarettes. The big companies, such as the manufacturers of Marlboro, have been especially persistent. These companies are trying to encourage extensive, paragraph-length warnings of the suspected hazards of smoking e-cigarettes. Big tobacco claims that they are campaigning for, according to their representatives, the good of the populace by supposedly protecting its health. This is coming from companies who sell a product so dangerous that there is a different warning on every pack.

Looking at the issue from the perspective of the big tobacco companies there are several strategies to use to challenge the growth of e-cigarettes. First off, the warnings on the packs of e-cigarettes labels will level the playing field that much more between the two rival industries. The presence of a lengthy warning versus one or two sentences on a pack of cigarettes makes cigarettes appear as if they are less dangerous to smoke.

Girl vaping e-cig at bar

Following the warnings, big tobacco also wants that there be no self service involved in the purchase of e-cigarettes. The companies want to remove the possibility of entering a store, picking out an e-cigarette flavor, paying, and leaving. Making the transaction itself harder will, again, level the amount of convenience between purchasing e-cigarettes versus regular cigarettes by introducing the third party factor. They are campaigning for putting e-cigarettes behind the counter alongside the old brands of cigarettes so prospective customers will have to receive their product from the clerk.

Most of all, big tobacco is pushing in the only field in which it actually stands a fighting chance on the front lines. The tobacco companies have long been flexing their muscles in front of Congress. They love presenting their ability to sway representatives and senators by cutting off and releasing the flow of campaign funding. By even pushing for more regulation, the companies are making it harder for e-cigarettes to make a niche in the industry. As more regulation is introduced, there is increasing amounts of research and investigation needed to permit e-cigarettes. In the end, the ones who have to pay for this research are the e-cigarette companies themselves.

As time goes on and more research is made, there will be real proof of the effect of e-cigarettes on the human body. While results as of yet are inconclusive, the big tobacco companies want put a stop to any sort of challenge before it even starts. However, the booming e-cigarette industry has been steadily growing despite the struggles made by big tobacco. It is possible that this regulation might not even have an effect on the industry in the future. Needless to say, the industry is vulnerable for now. Regulation could hurt the small companies before they can get their feet off the ground.

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  • Ali Esmaili
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