A recent story posted on the Newsweek website hours ago on May 27, 2015 is estimating that within ten years, sales of e-cigs and vaping devices will surpass those of tobacco cigarettes. And Big Tobacco is essentially the driving force behind this surge in popularity. When the first electronic cigarette was invented in 2003 by Hon Lik of China, tobacco companies thought this new contraption to be simply a soon-to-be passing fad. Now with nearly $5 billion dollars in global sales annually, Big Tobacco is no longer content to simply stand on the sidelines.
Big Tobacco is secretly afraid of “The Kodak Scenario.”
The Kodak Scenario refers to the early days of the digital camera. When these electronic gizmos first hit the market, manufactures of traditional camera film mistakenly assumed that there was no need for panic. But as technology became more advanced, the prices of digital cameras began to rapidly fall. And with a society always demanding faster and faster levels of instant gratification, by 2012 the Kodak Company had filed for bankruptcy.
Big Tobacco does not want history to repeat itself.
Learning from past mistakes, this is why we are beginning to see the small, independently owned e-cig companies being snapped up by huge tobacco conglomerates like Philip Morris and Lorillard. Is this good news or bad news for the vaping industry? That remains to be seen. But here is a short list of the most recent mergers between small-time e-cigs and Big Tobacco:
- 2012: American Tobacco Company Lorillard buys Blu E-cigs for $135 million
- 2012: British American Tobacco buys Manchester’s e-cig start-up, CN Creative.
- 2014: Japan Tobacco buys Zandera, manufacturer of E-Lites e-cigs.
- 2014: Imperial Tobacco buys out original e-cig inventor Hon Lik entirely.
- 2014: Marlboro’s Phillip Morris International purchases Nicocigs
What does this mean to Vaping Enthusiasts?
If Big Tobacco continues to buy all the independent e-cig companies, will companies like Kanger and Joyetech be soon to follow? Will Big Tobacco become as obsessed with vaping devices as they are with the over-the-counter e-cigs from our local convenience stores? And if they do, what will this mean to diehard vaping enthusiasts?
On the one hand, having the massive political leverage of the tobacco lobby on our side might make all of those potential nuisance laws more difficult to pass. Perhaps we will still be able to vape in public and outdoors just a little bit longer. After all, just this week Canada passed new legislation that regulates e-cigs very much the same way as tobacco. The US is expected to follow closely behind.
But Big Tobacco’s ownership of vaping pens and their related e-juices could also prove rather dangerous. If Marlboro owns our e-juice recipes, will Phillip Morris begin including new additives and highly addictive chemicals in future years, just like they did with traditional tobacco cigarettes? Will vaping become as potentially deadly and destructive as smoking? Will we begin seeing those little warning labels from the US Surgeon General on the sides of our favorite blends? Only time will tell.