ANR UPDATE, 32(1), Spring 2013

E-Cigarettes

In the last issue of UPDATE, we alerted readers to the potential health hazards posed by electronic, or e-cigarettes, to non-users, as well as the aggressive marketing efforts by this industry, touting its products as safe and targeting groups like pregnant women.

E-cigarette products are produced by hundreds of largely overseas companies - with no regulation, no oversight, and no requirement for ingredient disclosure. Analyses have shown the presence of dangerous chemicals in multiple brands and a lack of quality control. There is no way to know what chemicals are in even one product, let alone hundreds.

E-cigarette companies try to make up for the lack of credible safety data with celebrity endorsements and industry-funded studies designed to raise doubt about concerns, while also turning to Big Tobacco law firms and allies for advice on aggressive lobbying tactics. Not only do traditional tobacco retailers and convenience stores now sell e-cigarettes, but now major tobacco companies are getting into the e-cigarette business. Lorillard owns the e-cigarette brand Blu (produced in the U.S.) and British American Tobacco has acquired CN Creative Limited, a UK-based start-up company that specializes in the development of e-cigarettes. Swisher International Inc., the 150-year-old cigar company that brought the world Swisher Sweets, jumped into the growing e-cigarette market in 2012. RJ Reynolds is rumored to be developing its own line as well. Wells Fargo predicts that the consumption of e-cigarettes could surpass consumption of traditional cigarettes in the next decade. ANR advises everyone to avoid breathing secondhand "vapor mist" and to speak up to ensure that e-cigarette products are included in all smokefree workplace and public place laws.

In January, ANR staff attended an e-cigarette summit sponsored by the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) held in Las Vegas, NV. The main concerns expressed at this first ever one-day summit were the possibility of federal regulation of the product and how to counter laws and regulations that would tax the product or prohibit e-cigarette use in smokefree environments. Featured speakers included several lawyers from Venable, LLP and the Executive Director of the Council of Independent Tobacco Manufacturers. Summit participants were encouraged to meet with local, state, and federal officials to talk about the product and to advocate for this new business. There is clearly a concerted effort to organize not only e-cigarette manufacturers and distributors, but also the "grassroots base" of e-cigarette users, to prevent regulation, taxation, and the inclusion of e-cigarettes as a smoking product.

A recent example of how e-cigarette proponents are trying to popularize the product was the attempt to get samples of the product into the "swag" or goodie bags at the Golden Globe awards. A press release sent by RivoCig said it would be distributing e-cigarettes and encouraging people to "vape" at the ceremonies. Stan Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco alerted the California Attorney General's (AG's) office, which then contacted the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), sponsor of the Golden Globes. The HFPA's lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to RivoCig demanding the removal of all mention of the Golden Globes from its website and press materials. The AG's office also asked for confirmation that "vaping" would be prohibited at the ceremonies. As a result of this effort, e-cigarettes were not distributed at the Golden Globes.


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