Who says Big Tobacco speaks for Vapers?
Electronic cigarettes have been with us for going on eight years now.
In that time hundreds of little companies, starting in China, and now all over the world, have sprung up to manufacture and market these devices. Some of them do it very well, although in the absence of product regulation, there have been lapses, which opponents claim to be the norm. A major court has banned the claim of therapeutic value, despite a universal conviction to the contrary on the part of the growing contingent of enthusiastic users. In the aftermath of that court setback, American regulators have allowed the product to go unregulated for almost four years, resulting in some unfortunate changes in the market.
To wit, a year and a half ago, Big Tobacco, the dozen or so huge corporations worldwide that have enriched themselves for about a century by selling death in the form of combustible cigarettes, and lying about it, decided to counteract a marketing slide by buying this industry and using it to make themselves look respectable. In this short period of time virtually all of the Big Tobacco companies have either staged forced buyouts of legitimate (read: honest, not previously engaged in marketing death) e-cigarette companies, or have developed their own products. Using their tremendous wealth, they have quickly become the largest market segment of the industry, dwarfing the hundreds of little companies that pre-existed Big Tobacco's seizure of the market. And now they use their tremendous economic muscle to claim status as the spokes-entity for the hundreds of thousands of ex-smokers who have been using e-cigarettes to get away from their original products!
AND THE PUBLIC HAS BOUGHT IT!!!
Journalists, Regulators, Legislators, Opponents, and pretty much the whole public at large now accepts the claim of Altria and company to speak for the vaping public! The deception boggles the mind!
Item: In Ohio, Lorillard has introduced a bill banning sale of e-cigarettes to minors, opposing a handful of health advocacy organizations that don't want the ban at the state level, fearing it will result in a regulatory separation of e-cigs from lethal cigarettes, with the possible regulatory outcome of low taxation on e-cigs. Big Tobacco has been a major advocate of many state-level efforts to ban e-cig sales to minors, something the entire industry, as well as virtually the entire public and state attorneys general have been advocating as well, with most opposition coming from health advocates, for mystifying reasons. All of this in the face of continued charges that the industry is marketing specifically to minors, a charge that is backed up only by the fact that candy flavors are offered and adverts use animations and actor-endorsements to make the product seem attractive. And this is called "aggressive advertising".
Item: In California, smoking-ban honcho Stanton Glantz proposed in his blog that Big Tobacco is paying major actors to use e-cigs in public, at events like the Golden Globe awards, as though Nicholson and DiCaprio needed the money. Not a shred of evidence is presented, just the conjecture that e-cig marketers from Big Tobacco must be behind it. Glantz says: "Another way that the e-cigarette companies (which are increasingly owned by the big cigarette companies) is that they are keeping Big Tobacco's tradition of using Hollywood to hook kids alive. The latest example of this was the high profile presentation of e-cigs at the Golden Globes, where Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were featuring e-cigs." Look Ma, no evidence! How was their public use of the product a "high profile presentation"? Who is to say they aren't using e-cigs simply because, like, they use e-cigs? In what way does "featuring" e-cigs relate to "using" them? Glantz concludes that blog with the line: "One wonders how lucrative the deal was." This is not argumentation worthy of a professor at one of the world's greatest universities!
Item: On the previous day, in the same blog, Glantz presented web addresses of several online articles opposing public use bans on e-cigarettes with a harm reduction rationale. The offending articles happened to be written by conservative organizations, and with the same blithe disregard for evidence, Glantz made the assumption that they were put up to it by Big Tobacco: "Big tobacco's rightwing pals (and fundees) aggressively e-cigs; some things never change.... Just as e-cigarette advertising is modeled on the most aggressive of old-fashioned cigarette advertising, the e-cigarette companies (which are, increasingly owned by cigarette companies) are mobilizing the same network of right-wing think tanks that the cigarette companies have used for years to push their policy agenda, often linked with the tobacco companies' development of the Tea Party and related groups." This is called an ad hominem, Professor Glantz, a form of fallacy that claims an argument is invalid because the person presenting the argument is a bad person. (An argument "to the person" instead of relating to its logical validity.)
Perhaps it is time for vapers to "more aggressively" tell legislators, regulators, and journalists that Big Tobacco does not speak for vapers. Vapers are finding their own voice, and it is not Lorillard's!