The Big Tobacco giants have, for the past few months, been in the crosshairs of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But after spending years fighting tobacco addiction, the FDA has declared a war against the electronic cigarette. The organization accuses e-cigarettes of being a “gateway” towards tobacco addiction, especially for minors.
Tobacco manufacturers have been investing in electronic cigarettes to mitigate the losses in tobacco sales. Now, they are being accused of inciting minors to use their innovative vaping products in order to draw them towards tobacco.
Although most of the accusations are against the Juul, a very popular vaping device amongst adolescents, other brands have also been criticized. This is the case for Altria (formally Philip Morris Companies Inc.), which distributes Marlboro and also makes vaping products. And while Juul Labs agreed to work with the FDA to help prevent young people from vaping, Altria is going even further by removing certain products from the market.
Altria giving up ground to Juul Labs
Atria seems to prefer removing some of its vaping products from the market, and it isn’t for no reason: the move may silence the FDA for a time. The group has only removed 20% of its vaping products from the market as well, which will mitigate its potential losses.
In parallel, Altria’s move will improve its image without necessarily damaging its image amongst young people. According to Desmond Jenson from the Public Health Law Center, the interplay between vaping and tobacco products will eventually benefit Altria. Jenson believes that teenagers currently used to smoking Juul will eventually turn towards traditional cigarettes, and may end up choosing Marlboro.
Altria’s removal of certain vaping products from the market may end up being a ruse made under the guise of good faith, and this while it continues to try and attract young people to its products. Despite these fears, the FDA seems to appreciate Altria’s decision, which also complies with the health authorities’ demands. The question thus remains: is this a case of an honest attempt to fight tobacco addiction amongst minors, or is it simply more promotion for Altria?