The tobacco industry, a.k.a. Big Tobacco, has spent the majority of the last decade trying to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate e cigarettes and the vaping industry more. And their hesitance to allow the vaping industry to coexist with the tobacco industry has made a lot of sense.
After all, they theoretically stand to lose billions and billions of dollars if the vaping industry continues to grow and flourish like it has in recent years. So they have pushed for the FDA to put new regulations into place that would make it more difficult for the entire vaping industry to succeed.
The regulations wouldn’t completely crush e cigarettes, but they would limit the number of vape shops and vape manufacturers operating in the U.S.
That being said, it seems Big Tobacco is having second thoughts now that the FDA has actually decided to put new vaping regulations into place. After spending a large amount of money lobbying for the regulations, the tobacco industry is now spending more money to try and convince the FDA that they might have gone too far when it comes to regulating the vaping industry.
They are calling for them to scale back some of the regulations. So what gives? Is Big Tobacco for or against vaping? It’s a tricky question, so let’s take a look at both sides.
The Tobacco Industry Is “For” the Vaping Industry Because…
Back in 2010, the taxes that are put on tobacco products raked in more than $17 billion—yes, $17 billion—in a single year! The tobacco industry was basically printing money with regards to tobacco sales, so they viewed the vaping industry as a competitor that could potentially step in and reduce their profits dramatically.
Since that time, though, the annual tobacco tax revenue has steadily declined since more and more Americans have figured out ways to kick their cigarette habit. As a result, the tobacco industry has tried to come up with different ways to offset their losses, and one of the things they’ve started to do is open up to the idea of manufacturing e cigarette products.
Companies like Altria and Reynolds have started working with companies that produce vaping products, and while those products still represent a very, very small sliver of the overall tobacco industry profits, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll start to represent a bigger piece of the pie in the near future.
In the first quarter of 2016, Altria actually reported that their smokeless tobacco products brought in about $500 million, which is nothing to sneeze at and which shows that people are willing to spend their money on Altria’s vaping options. Simple math proves that the company could bring in about $2 billion this year alone on those options, if not more.
For this reason, the tobacco industry, which was once dead-set against supporting the vaping industry, is now thinking, “Wait a second, are we currently missing out on a lot of money due to the FDA regulations on vaping products?”
So they have doubled back and are now lobbying to have some of those regulations reduced so that they can start selling more vaping products. They have even gone as far as to send documentation to the FDA showing why their vaping regulations might not be the best thing for the industry as a whole. More than $8 million has reportedly been spent on their lobbying efforts alone.
In all of these ways, the tobacco industry is “for” the vaping industry, and it could actually end up helping many small-time vape shops and manufactures along the way!
The Tobacco Industry Is “Against” the Vaping Industry Because…
While it’s kind of nice to see the tobacco industry coming around to the idea that maybe, just maybe, they were a little bit too hard on the vaping industry back in the early 2000s, it’s important to remember that tobacco executives did go out of their way to try and crush the tiny vaping industry when it was first starting out.
Prior to the FDA passing new regulations on the industry, Big Tobacco went all out in an attempt to prevent the vaping industry from becoming a major player. They pushed for the FDA to ban refillable vaping systems and flavored e juices, asked for vape shops to be regulated as tobacco manufacturers, and used their PR machine to paint the vaping industry in an unfavorable light.
At the time, the tobacco industry claimed that it wasn’t taking a strong stand in an effort to hurt the vaping community. Rather, it said that it would be beneficial for the vaping industry to have stricter FDA regulations in place.
But come on. It’s not exactly a secret that the tobacco industry feared what might happen if the vaping industry did continue to grow. There was money that was going to filter into the vaping industry instead of Big Tobacco’s pockets, so the tobacco industry did whatever it could to force the FDA to regulate more.
It’s ironic that, just a few short years later, they would be back knocking on the FDA’s door and asking for them to pull back on some of the regulations. But make no mistake about it: The tobacco industry tried to kill off the vaping industry at one time.
The Truth Is That the Tobacco Industry Is Only “For” Itself
After all of that, you’re probably still wondering where in the world the tobacco industry really falls when it comes to the vaping industry. Are they in support of it now because they’re trying to get the FDA to pull back on some of their new regulations—or are they against it because of their actions in the past that saw them trying to crush the vaping industry like a bug with all of their power, influence, and money?
Well, the truth is that the tobacco industry is for…themselves! Sure, it might seem like they’re pro-vaping at this very moment since their current actions could help the vaping community. But would they be doing it if it wasn’t going to help them and, more importantly, their bottom line? Absolutely not.
It will be interesting to see how the tobacco industry continues to deal with the vaping industry moving forward. But regardless of whether it appears as though they are for or against vaping, they will always have their own interests in mind. It’s just the way Big Tobacco conducts business.