OUR Two cents:
This is not a surprise to us, and is something that has happened in other countries, including the US, and Europe. In the United States, Blu e-cigs was purchased by Fontem Ventures, a subsidiary company of Imperial Tobacco. Using the Blu brand, Imperial tobacco now sells vaping supplies in the US, UK, France and Italy.
What is the issue with tobacco companies owning vape companies? You might think this to be a good idea, and on the surface this may seem so. Truthfully however, allowing big tobacco into the vaping sales would have detrimental affects on vaping in Canada, of this there is no doubt.
For the entire history of big tobacco, they have been chronic liars, paying off doctors, settling out of court settlements, creating pseudo laboratories to provide fake testimonials and studies about the affects of smoking and cigarettes. Inventing 'light' and 'extra light' versions of their products to insinuate safety, and so much more. Just look at the litigation history of tobacco over the years. Do you want your vaping supplies controlled by such an organization? They even used Santa Clause and the Flintstones to advertise smoking, discussing their safety and even positive benefits, paying doctors, actors, and even athletes to promote their brand. Just watch this quick video as a reminder.
By contrast, the vast majority of Canadian vaping companies, Canada Vapes included, have always been primarily focused on providing our products and services to customers who are legitimately looking to stop smoking cigarettes. We sell vapes as an alternative to cigarettes. Our goal is not to create new customers who are not smokers or vapers. The corporation of big tobacco certainly will do this, and sneakily and manipulatively pursue the goal of increasing vaping in non-smokers and non-vapers to pad their bottom line profits.
Just look at the advertising blu e-cigarettes have done since being purchased by big tobacco, making vaping look 'ultra cool' with named celebrities like Stephen Dorf in their advertisements. And Jenny McCarthy's 'without the guilt' video. Just look at their provocative magazine advertising here, using a scantily clad bikini bottom with the tagline "slim, charged and ready to go" to advertise vaping.
It is a guise that big tobacco wants to give their customers a 'safer alternative'; what they really want is control of all nicotine delivery systems. They will want to grow the vaping community, they will target non-smokers and non-vapers, trying to increase their profits. Tobacco and vaping are two different worlds, with completely different goals, and completely different affects on people. One is pitted against the other, with vaping's goal to reduce smoking. Its like a McDonald's selling courses on how to quit going to fast food restaurants. There is an evil in the methodology of big tobacco, and anything they say to the contrary is nothing but another one of their many lies they have told over the years.
They sell cigarettes — Now Imperial Tobacco wants to sell e-cigarettes and vaping products, too
Company hopes new federal rules will allow it to communicate more effectively with consumers
By Tarannum Kamlani, CBC News Posted: Oct 20, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 20, 2016 5:51 AM ET
Canada's biggest tobacco company is hoping the federal government's upcoming legislation to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping products could usher its entry into the booming $235-million market.
"There's no doubt that when that's introduced, we will look at what these are, see how we can potentially be in the market in Canada," Eric Gagnon, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco Canada, told the fifth estate.
"The objective would be to provide consumers with a different, less harmful product that they could choose and hopefully move away from the cigarette industry."
When the fifth estate's Mark Kelley questioned why Imperial Tobacco would want to sell a product that would compete with cigarettes, the primary source of its profits, Gagnon said: "It's the same reason why Coke has Diet Coke and they have water.
"So that means with that thinking, there's no way that Coke could sell water ... there's no way McDonald's could sell a salad. Why aren't we allowed to sell a less harmful product?"
Eric Gagnon, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco Canada, says the company will look at how it might enter the Canadian market for e-cigarettes and vaping products. (Doug Husby/CBC)
Last month, the federal government announced it would introduce amendments to the Tobacco Act to create a legislative framework to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping products.
The changes are expected to come this fall and will seek to balance protecting minors from developing a nicotine addiction with helping adult smokers use the devices to quit cigarettes or use nicotine in a less harmful way, according to the announcement.
The fifth estate requested an interview with Health Minister Jane Philpott but was told she was not available.
The sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine is not currently approved by Health Canada and is deemed illegal, although these products are easily available across the country. The new rules would regulate an industry worth an estimated $235 million annually, according to the Canadian Vaping Association.
Gagnon added that he hoped any new rules would also allow the company to communicate more effectively with consumers.
The Canadian Vaping Association estimates the e-cigarette and vaping market in Canada is worth $235 million annually. (Doug Husby/CBC)
He told the fifth estate that it would help to ensure adult smokers see the potential health benefits of e-cigarette and vaping products and understand the differences between those products and cigarettes.
"If you want consumers to start using those products, they have to be aware of them," said Gagnon.
"So if you limit the communication too much as a tobacco product then it becomes very difficult for consumers to be made aware of the potential benefits."
Under the Tobacco Act, most kinds of tobacco advertising in Canada are prohibited.
'Accept that responsibility'
In the United Kingdom, Imperial Tobacco's parent company, British American Tobacco (BAT), has jumped on the e-cigarette and vapour products bandwagon.
BAT was the first company to introduce an e-cigarette into the U.K. market, launching it in 2013. It was also the first cigarette company to get a medicinal licence in the U.K. for a smoking cessation device called the Voke.
The company's scientific director, David O'Reilly, told Kelley that BAT's commitment to these products stems from the devastating impact smoking has had on public health.
"We accept that responsibility because we sell cigarettes today," he said.
"The use of those cigarettes causes death and disease. That's why we're investing heavily in the research and development of safer tobacco and nicotine alternatives."
The World Health Organization estimates about one billion people around the world continue to smoke. In Canada, tobacco use kills around 37,000 people annually, according to Health Canada.
O'Reilly said he strongly believes "there's momentum behind tobacco harm reduction," telling the fifth estate: "If we are part of the problem, as people see it, then we should be part of the solution."
But some experts in tobacco control aren't buying BAT's zeal for harm reduction.
David Hammond, an associate professor of applied public health at the University of Waterloo, served as an expert witness on behalf of governments being sued by tobacco companies over health regulations. He remains skeptical of any talk of harm reduction by a tobacco company.
"I think if they were really interested in harm reduction, they'd stop selling cigarettes. I mean, this is a company that continues to sue governments for putting health warnings on packages, including in Canada."
Right now, most of the recent regulation on e-cigarettes in Canada has happened on the provincial level. It varies widely, from very restrictive in Quebec to none at all in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Public health officials across the country are waiting to see how the federal government will shape new regulations on e-cigarettes and vaping products and what role tobacco companies might play.
Peter Donnelly, president of Public Health Ontario, is unconvinced that any tobacco company product could have a public health benefit.
Public health officials across Canada are awaiting the new federal regulations on e-cigarettes and vaping products. (Doug Husby/CBC)
"I think one should be extremely cautious about any claim that's made by people who have a vested interest in people continuing to smoke because that's where their profits come from," he told the fifth estate's Kelley.
"There is emerging evidence that young people like using it, that young people who use [e-cigarettes] are more likely to go on and smoke, and that's a tragedy."
For his part, Imperial Tobacco's Gagnon told the fifth estate he's in favour of regulations that protect minors.
"I have two kids. I don't want my kids to smoke. We support reasonable and evidence-based regulation, especially the ones aimed at keeping tobacco products out of the hands of kids."
But for others in public health, concerns over the involvement of big tobacco companies are a distraction.
'Public health emergency'
Dr. Mark Tyndall, executive medical director of the BC Centre for Disease Control, calls smoking a public health emergency. In his view, the most marginalized in society are the most negatively affected by smoking and for them, current approaches to quitting don't work.
"People can say that our programs are working slowly. But it hasn't really impacted people with mental illness and the poor," he said.
Dr. Mark Tyndall, executive medical director of the BC Centre for Disease Control, doesn't want to see the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes ignored because Big Tobacco companies want to get involved. (BC Centre for Disease Control)
"In my clinical practice, the people who have mental illness smoke cigarettes and we're doing nothing to help them. And they really deserve something more than a call-to-quit line."
He told the fifth estate he doesn't want to see the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes ignored because Big Tobacco companies want to get involved.
"If we're going to stop this, because Big Tobacco's behind it or because our kids might get addicted to nicotine, that is not where the attention should be right now. We have a public health emergency and we have something that can help that and we need to act."