New marketing pushes are just the latest in a list of recent moves which point to one conclusion; Big Tobacco wants control of the vaping market
It’s easy to forget, but modern vaping is still a relatively new invention having been invented less than 20 years ago. In that short period, the vaping industry has grown into something that is not only extremely valuable, but also quite influential. Big Tobacco, on the other hand, is dealing with continually dropping, and already historically low numbers of smokers. Given these two trends, it should come as little surprise that many Big Tobacco companies are currently selling or developing vaping devices to compete with the robust independent vaping industry. In fact, British American Tobacco (BAT) recently launched their “Vype” device in New Zealand, where they’re now in hot water with many over their marketing methods.
But it goes much further than just this isolated incident. Once you take a look at the trends and understand deals happening behind the scenes, it becomes obvious Big Tobacco’s ultimate goal is the complete takeover of the vaping market. Most large vaping companies today are actually independent companies, unlike the handful of massive conglomerates who own virtually all widely circulated brands of cigarettes. If this does come to pass, many are worried what it would mean for the long term harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaporizers.
The Latest Signs
BAT recently released the Vype iSwitch in New Zealand among other places. It didn’t take long for them to face their first controversy with them, as many parents and legislators took issue with the brand hiring social media influencers to promote their device. Some even went as far as to equate the move with how Big Tobacco used to employ sports stars to promote smoking to massive audiences, some of which were children. They firmly believe these ads are proof companies like BAT are looking to entice teens into using their products. While the ads themselves are quite innocuous, only indicating success thanks to the Vype, others say these half-hearted attempts at proving their utility are transparently fake. Pointing to the fact the ads usually come as one-off posts, without any supporting evidence on their feed to prove they actually quit smoking.
One thing that is for sure, this isn’t BAT’s first foray into the e-cigarette market. In fact, they had a reasonably successful device called Glo in Japan for a few years. Unfortunately, at the first sign of trouble, they discontinued the Glo in favor of developing the Vype. While some say this was the right move, others say this suggests they have no loyalty to their products or customer base. Regardless of where you fall, two things should be clear. BAT desperately wants a successful vaping device, and they’re doing a poor job hiding it.
A Full Trend
It wouldn’t be nearly as big of a deal as it is if it was just BAT worming their way into the vaping industry. But the truth is most Big Tobacco companies are executing their own plans to jump ship from cigarettes to vaping eventually. Don’t think this is exaggerated either, as Philip Morris International has gone on the record to say that they’re planning for a future in which they don’t sell cigarettes at all. They’ve also pledged over $80 million a year for over a decade to start and support a non-profit research firm aimed at uncovering the differences between cigarette smoke and e-liquid vapor.
Not to be outdone, Altria recently finalized a deal to purchase a 35% stake in the company which owns the uber-popular Juul brand for a reported $12.8 billion. This deal was met with a ton of debate, much of which over the ethical implications of bringing a Big Tobacco company so heavily into the fold when they’ve often gone on the record to tout their independence and focus on harm reduction and smoking cessation. With Juul being the hands-down market leader currently, this deal gives Altria a fast track to remaining viable even with the continued decline of smoking.
It should be more than clear to anyone who is paying attention that Big Tobacco is planning to do everything they can to take over vaping. As their business crumbles around them due to decades of lies, they’re desperate to remain profitable. We must fight misinformation so everyone can genuinely ask themselves if we should allow the same companies who let countless people die set up shop in the very industry that finally dealt them a death blow? If we do, they very well might prioritize the same things which directly led to cigarettes becoming more addictive and dangerous in the first place.
Are you surprised so many Big Tobacco companies are planning on moving into the vaping sector? Do you think it’s a big deal for BAT to use social media influencers? What’s the best way to spread positive information about vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.