I have a question for you. Could it be possible that e-cigarettes have opened the gate to the 2.0 version of traditional cigarettes?
In an article that originally appeared in The Motley Fool, Philip Morris International stated that they are moving towards the day when they become cigarette free. Now, considering that they generated more than $26 billion in revenues from cigarette sales around the world, I think that you would agree that - that claim sounds a little far-fetched.
On the surface you may think that the tobacco giant has had a sense of conscious, looking to pioneer a healthier America and a better world. Then again, maybe they’ve seen the writing on the wall feeling the decline in sales. After all, their third-quarter cigarette shipment volume fell 5.4 percent to a measly 207.1 billion units. Again… that’s just in the third-quarter alone. In its Asian markets, revenues fell nine percent, and in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, revenues fell eight percent.
Now, my version of what the future might possibly hold for the vaping industry has always gone something like this. The FDA institutes their new deeming regulations putting ninety percent of vaping businesses out of business, and then eventually the big tobacco companies who have dipped their toe in the e-cigarette space would claim that they are simply not profitable, bow out and the market would return to business as usual. However, I think that after seeing the claims that they have made in this new article, that I have a slightly new perspective. And to be honest, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
The fact is Philip Morris is investing heavily in electronic cigarettes, specifically its iQOS device that is being sold as HeatSticks under the Marlboro brand name, but here is where everything goes south.
As we all know, vaping is viewed by many as a safer and healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, as substantiated by one study after another. Vaping also eliminates tobacco and all of the cancer causing toxic chemicals which accompany it, and offers thousands of flavored liquids that help wean smokers off of cigarettes, allowing them the ability to adjust nicotine levels down to zero leading to the possibility of quitting smoking altogether. It is this “branding” that the industry has established that Philip Morris hopes to capitalize on.
Philip Morris claims that one of the main complaints that users have with e-cigarettes is taste. They suggest that vapers have a desire for real tobacco flavor, and to appease them, the Philip Morris iQOS device doesn’t heat flavored liquid like most vaping devices, no this one heats actual tobacco to produce a tobacco-flavored vapor maintaining all of the quality ingredients as good old-fashioned cigarettes. It is their hope that offering users real tobacco flavor, will help more smokers switch over to their new iQOS. Philip Morris has even filed an application to the FDA for a reduced-risk label for the device.
So while they claim that one day they hope to be a cigarette free company, all they are actually evolving into is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
They get their current customer base to switch to their tobacco e-cigarettes, position it as “safer” with their FDA approved reduced-risk label while maintaining their prideful track record of 500,000 smoking related deaths per year. I may be wrong, but it looks like there’s a good chance that we may have just paved the way for big tobacco’s new market play.
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