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e-cig Goldrush

December 2012

You certainly can’t blame smokers for their desperate search for a safer way of smoking. A search intensified by successive failed attempts to quit smoking. I remember my own miserable quest to become free from cigarettes that lasted nearly two decades. No wonder smokers are predisposed to the idea of “safer smoking” – it’s what pretty much every smoker on the planet has dreamed of.

It’s ironic that the tool they were given to get free of their addiction to nicotine (the use of nicotine patches, gum, etc) is again being pitched as their saviour from smoking – this time as an alternative to smoking intended to continue indefinitely rather than wean them off nicotine over a period of time.

It’s even more ironic that it’s many of the same characters in the medical and scientific establishment who once proclaimed that nicotine could be used to cure addiction to nicotine who now declare that taking more nicotine, more frequently, in larger doses, continuously is the next great advance in helping people to quit smoking. Allen Carr used to joke “What cure will they be suggesting for smoking next? A cigarette?”

Being able to reduce the terrible harm caused by smoking is a seductive proposition – the savings in human costs and healthcare costs alone make it so. But for a health policy so fastidiously bound to “evidenced based interventions” (so much so it has ignored anything to do with Allen Carr’s Easyway To Quit Smoking for three decades) the lack of regulation, and the complete abandon with which e-cigarettes have been allowed to enter the mainstream retail markets, is more than a little troubling. The same trumpet blowers for nicotine patches and gum have now puckered up again to back e-cigarettes as having potential “medicinal” uses. This in spite of an alarming absence of scientific evidence regarding their short-term, medium-term, and long-term use.

We live in a world where otherwise intelligent people still dismiss claims that passive smoking is harmful in any way. Even now there are a significant number of high profile, apparently well educated, nicotine addicts who dismiss the issue entirely out of hand – so much so – they continue to smoke in their homes and cars in the company of children and other loved ones who don’t smoke.

This is the “end game” to a process of education about the harmful effects of smoking started decades ago by the late, great, Sir Richard Doll. It’s taken nigh on 60 years to get to the point today – where most people accept what he said. How many decades will it be before “Doll-like” research into the effects of e-cigarettes is completed, published, and accepted?

In most cases – it would be sensible to assume that someone switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes will actually dramatically increase the amount of nicotine they are ingesting. Those people who currently stand outside to smoke (therefore limiting the number of cigarettes they have) will now decide that they can “vape” anytime, anyplace, anywhere…perhaps even constantly – spurred on by the message accompanying e-cigs that they are “healthier” than regular cigarettes. No doubt they will learn to inhale deeper, for longer, more frequently – just as smokers of “light” cigarettes are proven to do. With some e-cigarettes it seems that the user is charged with responsibility for the amount of nicotine contained in each dose.

Given the comparatively low cost of e-cigs, the skewed “healthier” messaging about them, and the ability to vape pretty much anywhere – it’s a green light for a feeding frenzy of nicotine for those who adopt vaping. Who’s in charge of finding out whether any of this is safe or not?

Already that heady cocktail is corralling people towards e-cigs and alarmingly this is being supported handsomely by completely unregulated advertising. The industry is using glamorous images, sexiness, and the most salacious and seductive language to tease potential consumers into their clutches (yes – it is easy to forget that the product being pushed is a poisonous and highly addictive drug).

One has to fear for the users being duped into switching to a new delivery system for the drug to which they are addicted. How long will the prices be so competitive versus regular cigarettes? How long before the tax hikes on e-cigs as the realisation by the government that the revenue raising runaway train of addiction, far from running out of steam, is all set to gain greater and greater momentum? The fact that e-cigs appear to be the lesser of the evils (when judged alongside regular cigarettes) can only encourage already cash-strapped governments to pull out of any funding for the treatment of nicotine addiction, park a generation of smokers on nicotine taken via e-cigs, and laugh all the way to the bank as yet another generation of addicts are recruited to the conveyer belt of nicotine addiction. Of course this is all excellent tax revenue raising activity – there’s nothing quite like legalised addiction to make a Chancellor of The Exchequer rub his hands together with glee.

Do we foresee a time when vaping is commonplace in workplaces, cinemas, shopping centers, and schools? The “normalisation” of drug addiction? Employers are already scurrying around trying to establish a basis for banning vaping in the workplace. Are there grounds to do so? Once the floodgates are open – there’ll be no going back. I’ve just got used to my kids growing up in an environment where smoking is no longer considered “normal”. How sad to think that in due course we may be sliding back towards a world where we’re confronted again with people publicly feeding their addiction.

Having said that – there’s no guarantee that vaping is here to stay. It will be interesting to see if sales of e-cigarettes are sustained.

It is interesting that Big Tobacco hasn’t launched brands. What do they know that we don’t? They’ve certainly been very slow to the market – although they appear to be funding certain brands and the development of new brands (Nicoventures etc).

Big Tobacco must have tested e-cigs. Did they find:

a) that smokers just didn’t stick with them (sure they have an endless supply of focus groups they could rely on for feedback) so it simply wasn’t worth them investing their big brands in what may be a passing fad?

b) serious long term side effects (sure they have the finance and resources to conduct short term, medium term, and long term studies on the harm e-cigs do to health without any obligation to publicly release the data from the studies) so they simply decided to sit out the law suits this time around. Suppressing the harmful effects of an addictive drug once – and you end up shamed and “fined to kingdom come”. Do it twice and people are going to end up in jail. Given their shady history – are the health consequences of e-cig use simply too severe for Big Tobacco to ride this particular train…at this particular moment? Especially if there is any truth in a)…

Perhaps they’re ring-fencing their traditional brands to protect them from initial litigation or fall out from a growth in e-cigarette use. Perhaps they knew that a Marlboro or Benson & Hedges e-cig branded advertising campaigns wouldn’t get around the regulations in the same way that the new e-cig brands have done. Watch this space for Nicoventures et al…

Maybe there’s another reason…but until we have the answer to the question “Why aren’t Big Tobacco already in this market” the future of the e-cig and its users remains shrouded in smoke…or should I say… vapour.

The way e-cigarettes are being advertised in the UK at the moment would have you think that vitamin supplements were being sold rather than a highly addictive, poisonous drug!

All last week on TalkSport Radio (in the UK) a brand of e-cigs ran seemingly endless adverts declaring to any man, woman, or child listening that their product is “Smoking re-invented”.

Racontour in The Times ran no less than 16 full color pages of “features” and adverts for e-cigarette brands. The wording used in the adverts defy belief…..and there is no doubt that in time, if left unregulated, they will be targeted at non-smokers, former smokers, and even more frightening, children.

“Just relax and take the time to enjoy this distinctive great tasting e-cigarette anywhere you want – at home, in the car, or the pub. Hassle –free.”

“Freedom to smoke”

“Introducing the e-cigarette for discerning consumers”

“Cherry flavour and menthol flavours”

“Smooth aromatic flavour inspired by the finest tobacco with undertones of sweet mocha”

“…offering a full-bodied lightly buttery taste that is truly the Gold Standard”

“Derived from the Vanilla Orchid of Madagascar, whose beauty is matched only by its flavour….will alert your senses with a sweet vanilla blast”

“Give someone you love the gift of freedom this Christmas”

Honestly – I haven’t invented the extracts listed above – they are taken from real adverts (some dressed up as editorial) for e-cigs in Racontour in The Times. The Times is almost falling over itself to get in on the action offering their readers an “exclusive” opportunity to order a particular brand (obviously the one for “discerning consumers”) at a discounted cost.

The adverts display their various flavours as if they were on a menu in Costa Coffee rather than from a company selling a poisonous and highly addictive product.

Newspaper, radio, and TV advertising departments are falling over themselves to grab a chunk of this whole new area of advertising spend. It’s not surprising really – given that it’s the toughest of times in the advertising industry. E-cigarettes offer a field day for the advert copywriters who are delivering their “try this – it’s harmless” message to men, women, and kids indiscriminately… the longer they are allowed to do so – the more recruits there’ll be to the next generation of addicts.

As if that wasn’t bad enough – sadly there will be more than a few former smokers who will be pulled back into addiction as a direct result of the alluring, “sexed-up”, irresponsible messaging in e-cigarette advertising.

We’re on the verge of a national calamity as smokers are being directed towards a means of maintaining their addiction, at an unknown cost to their health, as opposed to being given an effective means of escaping it.

Allen Carr’s Easyway To Quit Smoking book costs about the same as a packet of cigarettes – Allen Carr’s Easyway To Quit Smoking Centers cost around 6 weeks worth of cigarettes (for a pack-a-day smoker) and offer a money back guarantee.

For more information about how to get help to quit smoking with Allen Carr’s Easyway To Quit Smoking Centers, whether you smoke cigarettes, roll-up cigarettes, cigars, a pipe, e-cigs, or are addicted to nicotine gum/patches and how to quit smoking (or vaping) easily rather than feeling like you have to quit something – click on your country’s flag at the top of this page.

Do you know of anyone who you would like to help quit smoking/vaping? Tell them about this feature and if they mention it when they book a session at any one of our quit smoking centers across the world they can obtain a 10% discount (not valid in conjunction with any other offer or promotion).