The Push by Big Tobacco to Get Rid Of

The Push by Big Tobacco to Get Rid Of

The Push by Big Tobacco to Get Rid of Cigarettes

Key Takeaways

  • Big Tobacco is the term used to describe the major companies that produce and sell tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and snuff.
  • Big Tobacco is facing increasing challenges from public health regulations, lawsuits, and declining smoking rates, which threaten its profits and reputation.
  • Big Tobacco is trying to adapt to the changing market by developing and promoting smoke-free alternatives, such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco, and nicotine pouches, which are claimed to be safer and less harmful than cigarettes.
  • Smoke-free alternatives are not risk-free, and their health and environmental impacts are still uncertain and controversial. They also raise ethical and social issues, such as the effects on youth, addiction, and smoking cessation.
  • Big Tobacco's smoke-free vision is not necessarily aligned with the public health goal of reducing tobacco use and preventing tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

Tobacco is one of the most widely used and addictive substances in the world and also one of the most deadly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, of which more than 7 million are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are from exposure to second-hand smoke. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

Despite the well-known harms of tobacco, millions of people continue to smoke or use other forms of tobacco, often due to addiction, social norms, or lack of awareness. The tobacco industry, which consists of the companies that produce and sell tobacco products, plays a significant role in influencing the demand and supply of tobacco, as well as shaping the public perception and policy environment of tobacco use. The tobacco industry is often called Big Tobacco, which implies its enormous size, power, and influence.

Big Tobacco is not a monolithic entity but a collection of diverse and competing companies operating in different markets and regions. However, some of the most prominent and dominant players in the global tobacco market are British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris International (PMI), Japan Tobacco International (JTI), Imperial Brands, and China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC). These companies produce and sell various tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco, and pipe tobacco, as well as newer products, such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco, and nicotine pouches.

Big Tobacco is facing increasing challenges from public health regulations, lawsuits, and declining smoking rates, which threaten its profits and reputation. In response, Big Tobacco is trying to adapt to the changing market by developing and promoting smoke-free alternatives, which are claimed to be safer and less harmful than cigarettes. However, smoke-free alternatives are not risk-free, and their health and environmental impacts are still uncertain and controversial. They also raise ethical and social issues, such as the effects on youth, addiction, and smoking cessation.

This article will explore how Big Tobacco is pushing for a smoke-free future, the types and features of smoke-free alternatives, and the risks and benefits of these products. We will also examine the motives and strategies behind Big Tobacco's shift from combustible to non-combustible products and how this affects the public health goal of reducing tobacco use and preventing tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

How Big Tobacco is Promoting Smoke-Free Alternatives

Smoke-free alternatives are products that deliver nicotine or other substances to the user without burning or combusting tobacco. These products are also known as reduced-risk products (RRPs), modified-risk tobacco products (MRTPs), or next-generation products (NGPs), depending on the context and the claims made by the manufacturers. Some of the most common types of smoke-free alternatives are:

  • E-cigarettes: Electronic devices that heat a liquid (usually containing nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavorings) to create an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarettes are also called vapes, vape pens, box mods, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
  • Heated tobacco: Products that heat tobacco (usually in the form of sticks, capsules, or pellets) to a lower temperature than combustion, producing a vapor inhaled by the user. Heated tobacco products are also called heat-not-burn products, tobacco heating systems, or tobacco vapor products.
  • Nicotine pouches: Products containing nicotine (usually derived from tobacco) and other ingredients (such as cellulose, salt, and flavorings) in a small pouch under the upper lip. Nicotine pouches are also called nicotine pods, nicotine sachets, or oral nicotine products.

Big Tobacco invests heavily in researching, developing, and marketing smoke-free alternatives to diversify its portfolio and cater to consumers' changing preferences and needs. According to a report by Euromonitor International, the global market for smoke-free alternatives was worth $36.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $64.2 billion by 2025. Big Tobacco accounts for a large share of this market, with PMI, BAT, and JTI being the top three players in revenue.

Big Tobacco is also making bold claims and promises about its smoke-free alternatives, portraying them as innovative, modern, and socially responsible products that can reduce the harms of tobacco use and improve the lives of smokers and non-smokers alike. For example, PMI has declared its vision of a "smoke-free future," where it aims to "replace cigarettes with smoke-free products as fast as possible" and "offer better choices to the people who smoke while working to ensure that these products are not used by youth or non-smokers." Similarly, BAT has stated its purpose of "Building A Better Tomorrow," where it strives to "reduce the health impact of our business through offering a greater choice of enjoyable and less risky products for our consumers."

Big Tobacco is also using various tactics and channels to communicate and promote its smoke-free alternatives, such as:

  • Scientific research: Big Tobacco is conducting and funding scientific studies and trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of its smoke-free alternatives and to compare them with conventional cigarettes and other nicotine products. Big Tobacco also publishes and disseminates its research findings through peer-reviewed journals, conferences, websites, and social media platforms.
  • Consumer testimonials: Big Tobacco is collecting and showcasing the stories and experiences of consumers who have switched from cigarettes to smoke-free alternatives and how this has improved their lives. Big Tobacco also encourages and rewards consumers to share their testimonials with friends, family, and online communities and recruit new users to its smoke-free products.
  • Social responsibility initiatives: Big Tobacco collaborates with various stakeholders, such as governments, regulators, health professionals, media, civil society, and academia, to support its smoke-free vision and products. Big Tobacco also sponsors and participates in events and campaigns focusing on harm reduction, smoking cessation, environmental protection, and corporate citizenship.

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