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RJ Reynolds whines to FDA for protection from vapor-tank makers

"Teacher, he's beating up on me," says the playground bully, gesturing toward the scrawny kid whose arm he's twisting. "Send him to the Principal's Office." This is the moral equivalent of the Reynolds appeal to the FDA to clamp down on independent manufacturers of vapor-tank vaping systems.

The makers of Vuse "digital" electronic cigarettes have asked the Food and Drug Administration, in a 119-page document, to ban the products that are taking away their market edge. They claim that the products are produced overseas (decreasingly true, and in any case easily remediable), packaged in containers that are not child-proofed (a problem that is also easily solved, and indeed is already being addressed by the most responsible manufacturers), and that they open the door to "dangerous" flavors (an issue that Reynolds had no problem with, back when they were opposing the FDA's efforts to ban flavored combustible cigarettes).

Investment-watching website The Motley Fool is even willing to consider the possibility that the appeal is money-driven, rather than born of a concern for the public welfare! What?! Big Tobacco? Placing a higher value on profits than on the public weal? Shocking news!

At the beginning of this year, Big Tobacco e-cigs were riding high, with Reynolds' then rival Lorillard at the top of the heap, commanding a dominant 40% of the e-cig market for its dearly-purchased hireling subsidiary, Blu E-Cigs. Since then, Lorillard's ascendency fell with a nasty thud, and just as Reynolds and competitor Altria were bringing their own e-cig offerings out of preliminary testing in a few states into the national market.

What turned things around? Some early headlines offered the ridiculous scenario that the decline in e-cig sales was the product of a return to combustible smokes. Since this pro-tobacco explanation had not a shred of evidence, indeed a lot of counter-evidence in the form of cigarette sales and shipments that were continuing to plummet, it soon gave way to the more plausible theory.

It became clear that "cigalike" e-cigs were simply being edged out by other vaping devices that were gaining popularity among the real vaping public. And why were these competing products gaining popularity? Looks like they're just better, at least that's what the vapers commenting on the Motley Fool article are saying. "The cigalikes that Big Tobacco produces serve only one purpose : To make smokers NOT want to quit," theorizes one reader. Says another: "They just plain suck...." Pithy and eloquent, yes?

Reynolds, not surprisingly, takes a different view. According to Motley Fool, Reynolds argues that if the FDA is going to "allow access to the market" (!) for vapor-tank producers, they need to "create a level playing field on which all manufacturers of non-combustible deemed product categories are subject to equal treatment." No kidding! They really said this! And it would seem that the way they think that level playing field can be created is by banning the vapor-tank competion so that Big Tobacco can dominate the market without any challengers. Some level playing field!

But just to make sure, they got rid of Blu. 

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