Tobacco companies are acquiring ownership of electronic cigarette companies, according to Eoin Bradley of the Irish Cancer Society.
The advocacy officer for the charity voiced his concern about the issue, “For years tobacco companies have found that people aren’t listening because of a bad reputation and now they are weaving their way back into the public conscience”.
However he feels that “The number of people using [e-cigarettes] has sky-rocketed and due to a loss for tobacco companies, they want to get involved.” The e-cigarette market is currently at a global worth of $3 billion.
“The last thing they care about is public health”, He added.
In October of last year SKYCIG, an electronic cigarette company in Scotland was purchased by Lorillard, the third-largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States. Lorillard also manufacture the highest grossing US e-cigarette brand, blu eCigs.
At the time, the £60 million deal promised to double SKYCIGS workforce. Tom Rolfe the co-founder of SKYCIG stated “What we want to do is build on our aspirations to become the most recognised electronic cigarette on the market. Once we have achieved that we will move into the Continent, which is a very attractive market for us.”
According to Bradley “Boots have also allowed an electronic cigarette company to place stock in their stores, but the company is owned by imperial tobacco.” Boot’s was the first retailer to purchase Imperial Tobacco’s e-cigarette, Puritane. It has been on sale in the retail chain since february of this year.
Eoin Bradley spoke of how e-cigarettes can be ‘subject to marketing’ to make them look fashionable’.
Another e-Cigarette Vype is currently advertised on British televisions, Vype is owned by the company British American Tobacco. While the advertisement for VIP e-cigarettes caused controversy over the crude nature of it’s content.
In an interview with the financial times, the Corporate Accountability International (CAI) spoke about comparisons between the two markets, “We increasingly refer to and treat e-cigarette companies as the tobacco industry, because they have the same interests and tactics as the tobacco industry,”
It was also reported that RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris International, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco will all soon be stocking the shelves with e-cigarettes.
As of February however, the European Union has voted in favour of stricter e-cigarette laws. The legislation, that will come into effect in 2016, will ban the advertising of e-cigarettes in all EU countries. E-cigarette companies will also have to restrict the amount of nicotine in their products and will have to display warning labels.
There have also been considerations whether to add e-cigarettes to the Irish indoor smoking ban, a step that will shortly be implemented in hospitals as of next Thursday.
The HSE feel that ‘vaping’ may hinder their smoke free campus policy, they also feel that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes aid quitting.
But according to Eoin Bradley, e-cigarettes are currently unregulated in Ireland, “There is no regulation in Ireland at all on the age limit, although many e-cigarette companies do have a company policy whereby they don’t sell them to people under 18.” He urged caution due to the fact that “no two e-cigarette’s manufactured are the same”.
Reports by the NHS in scotland also examined how some respiratory problems had been reported amongst users like the ‘Exacerbation of COPD’.
One of their main concerns was that there had been a 39% reduction in the amount of people attending cessation services in a 12 month period. This may relate to the assertion of the CAI that tobacco companies are using e-cigarettes to keep people addicted to genuine cigarettes.
While tobacco sales in Ireland may have dropped last year, e-cigarette sales grew by 478%