Reynolds American Wants FDA To Ban Vapor Products

In a strange twist for the vapor cig business, Reynolds American has urged the FDA to place a ban on e cigs. This news comes in the wake of national release for Reynolds American’s Vuse rechargeable electronic cigarette after limited release in Colorado. What is behind this seemingly contradictory statement?

Reynolds American Makes Its Position Known

A spokesman for this tobacco giant expressed concerns that e cig vapor is not well understood and that it could be placing consumers at risk. He also drew attention to the fact that young people are drawn to these devices for their sweet flavors.

It’s not uncommon for an e cig to be marketed with cherry, vanilla, and chocolate cartomizers (atomized cartridges filled with e liquid) as well as tobacco and menthol. A lot of firms don’t even carry traditional flavors. They have developed custard and cocktail varieties of nicotine juice. Vuse is only available in menthol and tobacco.

Many of those opposed to e cigs hone in on the dangers of nicotine, forgetting that nicotine is optional, but the majority of vapers still ask for nicotine in their e juice. Moreover, one time use disposables are still the most common purchase in the e cig industry and these are rarely nicotine-free.

What Would a Ban Do to Reynolds and Vuse?

The Vuse e cig would not survive an all-out ban on e cigs but would survive a partial ban targeting sweet e juice and products that did not meet FDA regulations in some way. If e cigs were banned entirely or only a few brands (like Vuse, for instance) were permitted to remain, the tobacco industry would probably recover some of the customers it lost when e cigs took a bite out of their revenue.

Hidden Agenda

Members of e cig advocacy groups pointed to this fact in their counter-argument. Reynolds, Altria, and Lorillard have most to gain from an FDA ban on e cigs so their opinions are too subjective to even consider. In their statements, these corporations fail to compare the relative dangers of the cigarettes they produce with the dangers of vaping in which cigarettes could be accused of also attracting young people. They smoke to feel cool and to be accepted by peers, with or without tasty flavors.

Enforcing an age limit is the most obvious route to take, but will be no easier to regulate for e cigs than it has ever been with cigarettes. As for the health issues, those are too obvious for tobacco companies to discuss. They know they would be at the front of a losing team if they tackled the subject of carcinogens.

Other Views from Big Tobacco

What do other companies have to say about the FDA and e cigs? Lorillard (soon to be acquired by Reynolds if their deal goes through in early 2015) and Altria (owner of Green Smoke and MarkTen e cigs) agree to a point. Their opinions are less extreme but, essentially, they say the same thing.

Reynolds E Cig: Vuse

One can imagine Reynolds American arguing that their e cig is superior to any others on the market. They encourage recycling and mail pre-paid envelopes to their customers so they can return empty cartomizers and batteries. They fill their cartomizers with “pure” e liquid and construct them from only food-safe material.

Care has been taken to seal off the battery from the vapor pathway so there cannot be unintentional “gassing.” Cartomizers are tamper-resistant so one cannot be affected by the risk of degrading material not designed to last for days of vaping. Vuse is as safe as they get, but this is still an e cig; the very thing Reynolds hopes to see banned.

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