Reynolds American, the maker of Camel cigarettes and the second-largest producer of tobacco products in the US, has decided to ban smoking from its corporate offices. A corporate spokesman says “We’re well aware that there will be folks who see this as an irony, but we believe it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
Not only that, but the CEO of Reynolds is urging the FDA to take faster action in regulating e-cigarettes. Yes, the company who used cartoon characters in a despicable attempt to get more children addicted to smoking, knowingly lied for years about the dangers of smoking, and bitterly fought regulation of its products is now complaining about lack of regulation.
So what’s really going on? I think tobacco companies are trying to promote their e-cigarettes, which look and feel like traditional cigarettes, but instead heat up liquid nicotine to generate a vapor that is inhaled directly by the smoker. Because they don’t produce any smoke from burning tobacco, they avoid some of the problems of traditional cigarettes, like second-hand smoke.
So while Reynolds is banning traditional cigarettes, it will still allow e-cigarettes. Could they be using the apparent irony of banning traditional cigarettes to help promote their new product? Indeed, the tobacco industry has been touting the health benefits of converting smokers to the new technology of e-cigarettes.
I don’t think the tobacco industry has any interest in converting smokers to e-cigs (if such a thing were possible). Rather, the e-cigs allow people to smoke more because they are allowed in more places. There’s no health benefit since they aren’t substituting for tobacco.