It’s not hard to see that Big Tobacco plans to take over the vaping industry by any means necessary
It’s hard to believe modern vaping is really less than 20 years old, especially given the incredible innovation over the last several years. These days not only is vaping a powerful harm reduction and smoking cessation tool, but it’s also become a massively influential industry in its own right. At the same time, Big Tobacco has been dealing with dropping smoking rates and harsher regulations leading to an inevitable decline in business. It’s no shock then why Big Tobacco is so interested in doing everything they can to get their hand firmly in the uber-popular vaping industry. So much so that British American Tobacco is now facing some backlash over the marketing for their recently launched Vype vaporizer in New Zealand.
But don’t be fooled, it’s not just BAT who’s making a push into the vaping industry. It doesn’t take a lot of research to determine that virtually every Big Tobacco company is either actively working on, or already in the process of transitioning a large portion of their business into the vaping sector. As it currently stands, most of the largest and most popular vaping brands are actually independently owned businesses, unlike the countless cigarette brands owned by the same handful of conglomerates. But if this is allowed to change, there’s no telling what it could mean for the long term value of vaporizers as harm reduction and smoking cessation tools.
BAT’s Marketing Failure
It was late last year when British American Tobacco officially released their latest vaporizer, the Vype iSwitch in several countries including New Zealand. While they hoped the Vype would be an instant success, the immediate reaction was much more negative with parents calling out BAT’s marketing strategies as directed toward teens. The ads are fairly reasonable, with most of them merely being Instagram influencers paid to say they quit smoking thanks to the Vype. In fact, many feel the ads don’t even do a very good job of selling the product, as they come across as pretty fake, given the arbitrary timing and lack of updates on the supposed quit attempt. Regardless, many in New Zealand are not happy with BAT.
It’s not even their first attempt at bringing a vaporizer to market. They actually had a fair bit of success with their Glo device in countries like Japan, but ultimately decided to go back to the drawing board when developing the Vype. Some remain concerned with their willingness to cut and run from a quality product like the Glo. They see it as a red flag for anyone thinking about making Vype their go-to device. One thing should be clear, BAT is very invested in creating a successful vaporizer to compete with brands like Juul.
It would be one thing if it were only BAT that was positioning itself to take over vaping. But the fact is it’s almost every Big Tobacco company that’s working on this goal in one way or another. This is plain and simple. Philip Morris International, for example, has been on the record several times to say they plan on a future where they aren’t selling cigarettes at all. They even spend $80 million a year to start and fund a non-profit research agency whose supposed goal is learning more about the differences between vaping and smoking.
Likely even more troublesome is the recent purchase made by Altria, owner of Marlboro brand. At the end of last year, they were able to secure a 35% stake in the most successful vaping company in the world, Juul Labs. The deal was worth a reported $12.8 Billion and was immediately met with lots of criticism. Many call out Juul for bringing a company like Altria into the fold after previously going out of their way to boast their independence from Big Tobacco. Others are less worried and instead are glad companies like Altria are accepting vaping as the future. Regardless of how you feel, it does give Altria a massive advantage by controlling a decent size stake in the world’s biggest vaping brand.
For anyone paying attention, it’s more than clear Big Tobacco wants to take over the vaping industry. After years of killing their customers, the cigarette business is finally starting to lose power. With the drop in smoking rates and rise in vaping, it’s an obvious choice for Big Tobacco to slide into e-cigarettes. But we should think twice before letting the same industry responsible for countless deaths take control of the very product which finally ended their dominance once and for all. After all, it’s clear they value profits over everything, including protecting their customers.
Does it shock you so many Big Tobacco companies are going all in on vaping? Do you think it’s in bad taste to use influencers to advertise vaping products? What’s the most effective way to teach others about the value of 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.