In an article entitled “Pina Colada eCigs Leading Push Into Smokeless Tobacco” (BusinessWeek ) there are many assumptions about eCigarettes that I believe are just plain wrong. While the article does share a bit of information about tobacco products, it’s clear that those who have spent their lives in the tobacco industry haven’t really grasped why eCigarettes have such a loyal fan base, why there are so many Internet Forums, websites, and VapeFests popping up… or for that matter, what purpose eCigarettes truly serve… I’m beginning to think that by including eCigarettes in the whole “nicotine delivery systems” model, the FDA and Big Tobacco haven’t really understood what eCigarettes really are since Day One.

In this rather long piece I’m going to try and make it clear why eCigarettes are so misunderstood but at the same time are gaining in popularity despite the anti-smoking zealots who have seemingly declared war on water vapor, and the lack of advertising, as well as all the other things that are currently working against the success of the eCigarette. Hang in there with me, it might get interesting.

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The Danger Of Being Politically Correct

There is no room in the electronic cigarette community for politically correct thinking. “It is what it is” is the best descriptor anyone can use when describing the world around us. This philosophy to which I hold dear is especially true in the community in which we (you and I) play a part. All politically correct gets you is confusion and misunderstanding. Time to play it straight.

The electronic cigarette is more than a simple ‘nicotine delivery system’, or a ‘harm reduction device’. It is so much more than that. The “eCigarette” is destined to be an important part of society in the years and decades ahead. We’re at the precipice right now, and the growth of the eCigarette will either go slowly or accelerate, depending upon how quickly Big Tobacco can get up to speed, and how understanding the FDA can be. I’m not optimistic, but I am hopeful. The Genie is out of the bottle, it’s not going back in.

Why eCigarettes? Why Vaping?

We vape because we like to vape. Because it is a great way to relax, relieve stress, to cope. It is no more simple, nor less complicated, than that.

We smoked tobacco because we liked to smoke. We stopped smoking tobacco when the price got too high or the weight of cancer and heart disease became too heavy. Quitting didn’t stop us from “wanting” to smoke. Some of us need to smoke, just like some of us need to drive fast cars, build model airplanes, knit sweaters, and a million other hobbies. Yes, hobbies. Vaping is more of a hobby than anything else to many of us. (more on that later this week)

With the advent of the modern eCigarette we no longer need to worry about diseases from tobacco. And as far as the cost goes, right now and for some time to come, vaping costs a fraction of the price of smoking tobacco. (I’m speaking of real vaping, which does not include many of the mini-eCig brands on the market…but I’ll get to that too later this week.)

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I, and by extension Spinfuel eCigs Magazine, are not experts in tobacco or the tobacco industry. Having said that, we “get” the eCigarette. As a Vaper living with eCigs and mingling with other eCig users it’s easy to see where Big Tobacco is getting it wrong and why the FDA seems to be confused.

Business Week

The Business Week article of last week begins by describing an Ad that has been recently placed in many US publications by Blu Cigs. The Ad uses the tag line “Take back your freedom to smoke anywhere with Blu electronic cigarettes”, the ad continues on with “It’s the most satisfying way to tell smoking bans to kiss off. OK, maybe the second-most satisfying way.” … Cute enough I suppose, and politically incorrect enough (which appeals to me in a big way), but right off the bat it’s an inaccurate statement that will undoubtedly piss off the anti-smoking zealots, many of which are employed by the government.

This whole “smoking anywhere” claim is old, outdated, and flat out untrue. Witness the grandmother in Washington State who was thrown out of the Bingo center she had attended for years. She’s been taken ill by the use of tobacco cigarettes for 40 years (she’s 52) and had been ordered off cigarettes by her doctor. Instead of struggling with giving up the act of smoking she switched to eCigarettes.

Calling ahead to make sure it was okay for her to bring her eCigs to Bingo, and being assured on the phone that it would be fine, the woman was thrown out by Bingo center within a couple of minutes of ‘vaping’. This happens all the time.

Try smoking in the theater, or most restaurants; it isn’t allowed. The reason? Because it looks too a little too much like smoking. It doesn’t matter that it’s water vapor for the most part; that it does not smell, and most importantly it poses ZERO danger to anyone around the vapor, including herself. The only thing that matters is that the anti-smoking zealots feel ‘beaten’ when they see someone vaping. “This bastard found a way around our war on smoking! He/She must be defeated!” And so it goes. The Blu Cigs Ad is misleading, and misguided (and will probably be used against eCigarettes straight away).

The article informs us that the US tobacco industry has rolled out various smokeless products, from battery powered eCigs (?) to lozenges laced with tobacco. It states that Lorillard, the company that purchased Blu for 135-million in cash, Altria Group, and Reynolds American have tried various marketing tactics to attempt to stave off the number of people who are moving away from analog cigarettes.

It is here in the article where the author shows his, and Big Tobacco’s lack of understanding. While its true that alternative substitutes for cigarettes account for 1% of the $90 billion dollar cigarette market, just as David Adelman, a Morgan Stanley analyst says, the next quote does not explain the real reason why so many people stick to cigarettes;

Consumers like the tobacco products they currently consume. This isn’t like asking someone to change their laundry detergent or the type of mop they use

While it is easy to make such claims, and thereby blaming the consumer’s desire for their particular brand of tobacco cigarette for the lack of success with their smokeless alternatives, the 3 to 4 percent annual drop out of cigarette consumers says otherwise. Most people, regardless of what analysts and tobacco executives say, do NOT like their analog cigarettes. They don’t like smoking “tobacco at all. Not anymore. This isn’t about what the consumer likes about tobacco, but rather what the consumer actually does like: the act of smoking. That 3 to 4 percent show that either they can no longer afford it, or that they can’t continue with all the risk, and so they simply quit.

If only there was a way to keep smoking that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and won’t kill me in the process” – The 3% – 4%

Smokeless products, from strange little lozenges to something called “snuff” has grown by a huge 7.5% from 2010-2011, according to Euromonitor International. 2010 is the year before the “Big Bang” of the modern 2-piece eCigarette, by the way, so this information is currently worthless when discussing the “Big Picture” of 2012 and beyond. I have a feeling that many of the people that jumped off tobacco cigarettes and onto snuff (is it really called snuff?) back in 2010 are eCig users now.

By the time the information for 2011 and 2012 is made available, the world of eCigarettes will be unrecognizable; one way or the other. Again, this 7.5% gain in alternatives is caused by the same issues that causeed the 3 to 4% to just stop altogether; cost and danger.

If only there was a way I could stop using tobacco but continue to smoke.” – The 7.5%

Gimme Some Truth

As former smokers, you, me, and all the other Vapers will tell you that tobacco stinks, that we KNOW it’s going to kill us, that we’ve seen people die from tobacco use. In addition, nearly every tobacco smoker today understands the dangers of smoking as well, they just haven’t jumped ship yet. They hate that part of themselves that light up every morning. They hate the tobacco companies for making cigarettes more “addictive” by adding so many cancer-causing chemicals and other components, and they hate the government’s taxation of cigarettes that are supposedly there to offset the cost of the uninsured sick, but doesn’t. They hate it all.

If only there were some alternative to tobacco. If only there was a way I could continue to smoke without committing suicide or spending so much damn money.” – Today’s Smoker

Hey! It’s Time To Wake Up

It’s time for the FDA and Big Tobacco to understand that people who smoke tobacco cigarettes are willing to do just about anything to get off these cancer-causing cigarettes.

The solution to the problem has nothing to do with test-marketing different nicotine-infused gumdrops or lollipops, nicotine patches and gum, or anything else. That’s missing the boat. Even when these tricks are successful the newly non-smoker will always miss their cigarettes.

Again, as former smokers, we all know exactly what current cigarette smokers like. Which is why the electronic cigarette market is exploding… by word of mouth no less. Hell, it would already be a billion dollar industry is it weren’t for lack of understanding by the government, the FDA, and Big Tobacco.

Lack of Understanding

What you can never take away from someone that has chosen, for whatever reason, to smoke cigarettes is the “desire” to smoke cigarettes. This desire would have manifested itself into something else if cigarettes never existed because this desire goes as deep as any desire can. The desire is simple; it is the desire to cope.

The Holy Grail

From the article: The “holy grail” for the tobacco companies is “a cigarette-like product that accomplishes the flavor, the ritual and all the cravings of a cigarette,” said Thilo Wrede, an analyst for Jefferies & Co. Inc.

It’s already here guys.

Now the article begins discussing “dissolvables”, candy-like products that contain tobacco. A couple of these products made it to the public test marketing with names like Camel Orbs, which apparently look like Tic-Tacs.

From the Article: Many smokeless products have failed in test markets because they lack the nicotine punch of cigarettes and are too removed from the smoking ritual, said Greg Connolly, director for the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health.

It’s already here guys…

From the Article: “If disolvables were going to catch on, they would have already,” said Michael Lavery, a CLSA Credit Agricole Securities USA Inc. analyst. “It’s a tough proposition. This stuff is weird.”

Yep, we agree completely. It’s the understatement of the year. So why waste your time?

The article begins to talk about eCigarettes again, describing them as “electronic tubes that use nicotine and flavored cartridges to mimic the look and feel of traditional cigarettes, without the smoke and the ashes.” It says that there are currently 2.5 million eCig users in the US, (which is probably low). This number comes from the “Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association”, for what that’s worth.

Yes… Go on…

The article shifts focus to Blu Cigs (BAM!), and talks about an $80 Starter Kit and a $12 pack of cartomizers, which they call “flavored cartridges”.

From the Article: At a conference in May, Lorillard Chief Executive Officer Murray Kessler (There are more Kessler’s in the eCig world than you can shake a stick at *-ed) justified acquiring Blu Cigs by saying such products will generate $1 billion in annual sales in the next few years. The niche now generates about $300 million, he said.

If these “new” players in the eCigarette market, like Lorillard, learn fast enough the “1-billion dollar industry” will be an extremely low estimate. So why is it taking so long to “get it”?

The dumbest line in the whole article;

“The electronic cigarette is better than products like nicotine inhalers,” McCone said. “But it’s no replacement for a real one.”

Yes. It.Is.

“It’s No Replacement For A Real One”

The real reason people continue to smoke today, after so much evidence about disease and death, and the astronomical cost, is so they can cope with the world we’ve created, the society we live in, and the apparent ignorance of every politician on the planet and their inability to solve any of the real problems we face.

Let’s think about the individual smoker for a second. You were one once, so think about you for a second.

If the world were a safe place, if you had more than enough money for today and the future, if you knew your kids were going to remain safe and grow up strong, if you lived in a world where the real meaning of “tolerance” was practiced (and not the politically correct definition of tolerance), if you lived in a world of peace, where everyone wanted the best for everyone else… if you could just stop worrying about the world around you and everyone in it… would you need to smoke? Be honest. Look inside yourself and discover what has always been there; the desire to be safe, sound, secure. It is in all of us.

We’ve created a world where “stress” is winning. Coping in this world is getting harder and harder…

The article, which, remember, is called “Pina Colada eCigs Leading Push Into Smokeless Tobacco”, suddenly goes totally off track and begins to talk alternatives to tobacco (again), including snus, “a variant of Swedish snuff, that comes in pouches and doesn’t require the user to spit.”

From there on to the end of the article, the focus is on snus, it’s growth and profitability, then winds up bringing it all back home with this;

From the Article: “Though tobacco companies haven’t found the ideal cigarette alternative, they need to keep investing in these products to compensate for declining cigarette sales, Lavery said.

“Right now, there is a big size disparity between the cigarette and smokeless categories,” he said. Still, over the long haul, “the picture is changing.”

The answer is staring them in the face.

The Hard Truth

Our world is the way it is. We could not change it even if we wanted to. That would require 7 billion people working together to solve all the problems in the world, to build a new reality, and that’s not going to happen. The best we can do is the best we can do… and all we can do for ourselves and our loved ones is to learn how to cope with the way it really is.

Focus

All I want to do accomplish with this opinion piece is to focus our attention on how to get the FDA and Big Tobacco to see eCigarettes for what they are and what they represent and especially what they are not. Enjoying the act of smoking, through vaping, is my choice. I don’t want to quit.

Escapism

Before anyone jump to conclusions and think I am advocating using eCigarettes as an escape, let me clarify something. Any time you enjoy something, whether it’s a dinner at a fine dining place, or your favorite music, a drive in the country, or anything else, this enjoyment cuts you off from the realities of living in a modern, stressed filled society. Enjoyment is a form of coping, but enjoyment is not escaping.

The Zealots Have It Wrong

The eCigarette is being shunned by zealots, when it should be applauded. As soon as the first eCigarette successfully moved a tobacco smoker off cigarettes and onto eCigarettes it should have become the new “Man on the Moon by the turn of the Decade” project for Big Tobacco or some other company looking to change the world and make a fortune in the pursuit.

If people will always seek out smoking for the pleasure of it and as way to relieve stress why not invent the best, safest, surest way to smoke without the inherent diseases being caused by tobacco, without the stigma attached to tobacco by the anti-smokers successful campaign to vilify smoking. Why not, for once, give the people what they WANT and not what you think they NEED?
Politicians, the FDA, and the people behind Big Tobacco, need to accept the truth if they really want to move people off tobacco or otherwise improve their lives.

To Big Tobacco: There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. The solution to your customers walking away from you is not in some nicotine-laced candy; it’s offering your customer what he or she wants, a good, safe, way to smoke. In other words, the best-damned eCigarette you can make.

The Electronic Cigarette Is Still The Unknown

Isn’t always surprising when someone like Jay Leno points out how most people don’t know the simplest things? The majority of people can’t tell you who the Vice President is, or have no clue that our government has three equal branches. Well, it’s the same way with eCigarettes and tobacco users. Smokers, on the whole, have never seen an eCigarette.

If the eCigarette is to succeed one of those things that need to be done is to see to it that smokers learn about the very existence of the modern eCigarette and that the tobacco user gets a chance to use one. A good one. Get a good eCigarette into the hands of every smoker in the US (to start with) and watch the demand go through the roof.

Cleaning Up The eCigarette Marketplace

Is there anyone out there working on a better eCigarette? – John Manzione

I’ve said many times this year that the eCigarette marketplace is like the Wild West. New companies pop up every day with the same poor quality Chinese eCigarette repackaged as something new. The Chinese continue to make variations on the same theme so that people can brand them as their own and sale them at 500% markup. This “cluttering” of the market is not good for eCigarette users, and certainly doesn’t bode well for the future for most of them.

That’s not to say that there are no good eCigarettes on the market today. There are, and when we find them we write about them. When we discover a bad one we write about them as well. Spinfuel is trying to shine a light on this marketplace in an attempt to make smokers notice the eCigarette and to show current eCigarette users their options. And there are a lot of options.

I’m not kidding myself into thinking that I can make a difference here, but maybe “we” can get others to join us. Point fingers at both the good companies and the bad ones. Point your friends and family that continue to smoke tobacco toward those companies and products you like. The movement is, I’m afraid, going to have to start with us. At least until Big Tobacco, the FDA, and ‘nanny state’ get a clue.

So, to those executives in Big Tobacco, to those federal employees over at the FDA, hear us:

The electronic cigarette IS the answer. There is no need to look anywhere else.

We “want” to vape eCigarettes. We “want” the freedom to do so without inviting a hate crime. Separate eCigarettes (which have nothing to do with tobacco anyway) from tobacco cigarettes. Don’t treat the electronic cigarette as medical devices, a smoking cessation device, or a poison. It is none of those.

Together, a good American-made “smoke juice” and a safe electronic vaporizing device (eCig or PV), combine to create a great way for people to cope with the world and enjoy life. Vaping creates friendships with like-minded people, it grows the economy, it provides jobs and creates a market where thousands of small businesses can thrive, and it will continue to grow and improve as long as you stay on the sidelines with a minimum amount of interference. Sure, enact your laws that require the products to be safe, free from contamination, and all that. But stop thinking it’s more than what it is, or worse than it is. The wheel has been invented, just make sure it’s made safely, and then get out of the way as we roll around with it.

We are, after all, a free nation. Let us be free to enjoy ourselves the way we want to. Allow us the freedom to vape. Are we really asking so much?

John Manzione