New York Times: Tobacco companies pushing e-cigarettes

I have called out The New York Times on a few occasions for reporting on e-cigarettes without addressing some key questions–such as whether they will encourage young people to take up smoking.

But the Times has a good piece today by Matt Richtel on the push by cigarette companies into the e-cigarette market.

He quotes the president of R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, a subsidiary of the Reynolds American tobacco company, who says, “We’re here to make sure we can put this industry on the right side of history.” That is, on the side of health, not death.

He notes that the tobacco companies are advertising e-cigarettes on television, which marks the return of smoking ads to TV after a long ban. The ads don’t promote cigarettes, but they promote smoking–and Richtel points that out with a quote from an American Cancer Society official who says we’ve “de-normalized” cigarettes and “e-cigarettes are undercutting that de-normalization.” It’s awkward, but it makes the point.

Richtel also notes that the market for cigarettes is far larger than the market for e-cigarettes, and that the industry would profit hugely if e-cigarette ads drove kids and others to start smoking cigarettes.

He also reports that the “Let It Glow” campaign for Altria’s e-cigarettes immediately calls to mind the Disney children’s movie “Frozen,” and its hit song “Let It Go.”

A spokesman for Altria said the “Let It Glow” campaign was “aimed at adults.”

That’s what they said about Joe Camel.

-Paul Raeburn

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