Ultimate Hypocrisy: Big Tobacco Asks FDA to Ban Tanks and Mods to Protect Public Health

If you didn’t think Big Tobacco companies could stoop any lower, get ready for a wake up call. This week we witnessed the ultimate hypocrisy as cigarette giant Reynolds American sent a 119-page document to the FDA, urging regulators to ban open-system electronic cigarettes. The reason? They are a threat to public health.

While Reynolds American reported $1.2 million in gross profits from their tobacco products last quarter, they are now suddenly concerned about America’s health. This newfound worry for health is more than a little strange considering that the tobacco giant directly contributes to 5 million smoking-related deaths each year. Even so, Reynolds American isn’t too concerned about people smoking their Camel cigarettes, but they insist that vaping mods are simply too risky.

Spokesman David Howard candidly spoke about the tobacco company’s petition to the FDA. “We believe the FDA should not allow such products to be sold or marketed,” he said. “We believe open system vapor products create unique public health risks.” At the same time, Howard failed to mention how the company’s own products are contributing to numerous fatalities.

“These (ecig) systems are highly subject to adulteration and tampering, they are manufactured largely overseas in facilities that would, as proposed, fall outside regulatory inspection and oversight, and many nicotine liquids are sold in non-child-resistant packaging in flavors that may be appealing to youth,” Howard said.

Anyone with knowledge of the tobacco industry has to wonder how the executives of Reynolds American can sleep at night after making such remarks. How many of their cigarette packs are made with child-resistant packaging? How often does their notable mascot “Joe the Camel” appeal to youth?

In reality, Reynolds is more concerned with the risk to their bottom line than the actual health of Americans. Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, summed it up quite nicely: “RJ Reynolds calls for the FDA to ban the majority of e-cigarette products should be seen fro what it really is – an admission that it simply cannot compete in the current e-cigarette market,” he said. “Recent market reports show that while sales of open-system e-cigarette products and e-liquid are booming, sales of closed-system cigarette lookalikes – the kind that Reynolds sells – have stagnated.”

There is no denying that Reynolds is looking closely at the ecig market with the recent gradual launch of its own ecig called Vuse. Reynolds executive Susan Cameron said Vuse would be a “game changer” for the ecig industry. She claimed that many smokers weren’t satisfied with today’s standard cig-a-like models and that is why many turn to tank style devices.

“The growth of those is driven by the consumer’s desire to get satisfaction. If you’re not getting satisfaction out of the e-cigarette format because you’re not getting the nicotine that you want, then if you go to those tanks, you can figure out how much nicotine you want, right. You fill it yourself,” Cameron explained.

She went on to say that even as tanks are growing in popularity among former smokers, they are “really not appropriate”. She claimed that allowing consumers to fill their own tanks opened the door for a lot of potentially illegal activity. “People are putting a lot of things other than nicotine into these pipes,” she alleged. Cameron said some e-liquids even contain cannabis.

“Second of all, if you really load a lot of nicotine into a pipe, and there is nothing to stop a kid from picking it up, this is not good,” she said. “So we believe that closed systems are the way that regulators should evolve.”

Since when is big tobacco so concerned with keeping nicotine away from children? Since when is big tobacco concerned about public health whatsoever?

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