“Big Tobacco” companies like Reynolds American, Altria, and Lorillard are becoming bigger players in the electronic cigarette market, the New York Times reported June 17.
Lorillard is behind Blu eCigs, the biggest e-cigarette brand, and Reynolds is entering the market with its Vuse brand this month. Altria subsidiary NuMark plans to introduce MarkTen e-cigarettes later in 2014.
Past marketing abuses by these companies have public-health officials concerned that there could be a repeat in aggressive “Joe Camel” type advertising for e-cigarettes, which unlike tobacco products remain relatively unregulated. Some of the ads for e-cigarettes are “exactly the same themes we saw work with kids in the U.S. for decades with cigarettes,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Stephanie Cordisco, president of R. J. Reynolds Vapor Company, responded: “I know the perception of who we are and what we stand for … We’re here to make sure we can put this industry on the right side of history. We’re trying to redefine tobacco enjoyment and give smokers an alternative, one that potentially reduces harm.”
E-cigarettes remain a tiny part of the profits for companies like Lorillard, however, which made $1.2 billion on tobacco sales last year but just $6 million on e-cigarettes.
(Photo © Lindsay Fox via Flickr)