Using E-Cig Regulation to Discourage Competition
Planned legislation next week is to introduce a bill sponsored in part by Altria to increase a Federal minimum age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21. So who is Altria and why are they behind this legislation ?
Altria is the largest tobacco producer in the United States. You may be more familiar with their old name, Phillip Morris.
So who is Altria? Besides being the largest tobacco producer in the United States, they also own a whopping $12.8 Billion stake in Juul Labs, the largest and most successful Vape manufacturer on the market today.
So why would a tobacco company encourage legislation to limit cigarette sales? Let’s look at a bit of history.
In April 1997, it won a ruling in federal court saying that the FDA had no authority to regulate the marketing of cigarettes or other delivery mechanisms, even though it could regulate the sale of tobacco itself. The idea was that the government had the right to say tobacco was harmful to kids’ health, but it didn’t have the right to say smoking wasn’t cool.
Altria’s strategy was deviously Machiavellian. In the wake of the tobacco settlement, as many of its major rivals struggled, it was left as the only tobacco company in America with the resources to comply with a complex regulatory environment. In 2002, Altria started campaigning to put cigarettes officially under the direct oversight of the FDA, a prospect it had battled for 30 years. Competitors decried this as the “Marlboro Monopoly Act”.
After the 1997 ruling, Altria’s marketing took a very abrupt turn. It took on the Superhero role and persona and did a complete image makeover.
It changed its name to Altria, which not coincidentally sounds like Altruism. It started something called Success360, which invests in organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, 4-H and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Most crucially, it began to support increased FDA regulation. It was no longer in the tobacco business; it was in the public relations and regulatory capture business.
It is repositioning itself as the repentant child who is going to clean up the world of its former self and its former competitors.
The Wolf is back, but this time he is wearing a different Sheepskin. It is the same people who sold us and our parents on the “Safety” of cigarettes resurrecting the team of Snake Oil Salesmen to now sell the “Safety” of Vaping.
One look at their website confirms that Altria has accepted that cigarette smoking rates are falling and will continue to fall. It further supports their prediction of an increase in Vaping and next week’s planned legislation positions Altria to benefit from a Vaping Epidemic which seems to be exploding with impunity.
Creating and exploiting a new market for addictive products?…. It would certainly seem so.
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