When E-Cigarettes first hit the market circa 2009, it was positioned by product marketers as a safe alternative to tobacco cigarette smoking and deemed harmless to one’s health. Gradually, consumers began warming up to the marketing messages created by the E-Cigarette manufacturers as sales spiraled from virtually non-existent to $1.7 billion in five years, according to a Static Brain, Wells Fargo Study.
But E-Cigarettes took a big hit after one study released last week claimed it negatively impacted the immune system in mice. This unsettling news for E-Cigarette big wigs was compounded with political attacks from the state of California and a powerful pack of U.S. Senators.
Is this the start of a downward spiral for Electronic Cigarettes or just a minor blip in their journey to become the preeminent player in the cigarette industry?
Regardless, one can’t discount these recent developments:
Electronic cigarettes linked to weakening the immune response in mice
A recent study, released a few days ago, found that when mice were exposed to Electronic Cigarettes their Pulmonary Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Viral Defenses were impaired – putting them at higher risk for infections like the flu or strep, according to the PLOS Report. While this does not imply that people who smoke E-Cigarettes are compromising their immune system, researchers are at the nascent stage of what they really know about them much like when cigarettes were deemed harmless.
Senate Group urges FDA to regulate Electronic Cigarettes
Also, last week, a partisan group of Democratic Senators cited a new study that shows that high levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde can be present in ‘vaping’ which is commonly referred to as smoking an Electronic-Cigarette. The Senators who sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner urging the FDA to finalize its plan for regulating E-Cigarettes included Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA).
The gang of four Senators pointed to a new study from Portland State University researchers that determined high levels of a hidden form of the carcinogen formaldehyde can be present in the “vaped” aerosol formed by Electronic Cigarettes. The study underscored that little is known about the short-term and long-term risks associated with Electronic Cigarettes and that there is need for regulation.
“As the Electronic Cigarette industry moves at breakneck speed to produce products with higher voltages that can deliver higher nicotine dosages at the whim of the user, the dangers of hidden formaldehyde will increase, including cancer risks,” wrote the Senators. “This study places new urgency on the need for the FDA to finalize its deeming regulations, including how it will exercise authority to regulate e-cigarettes.”
California Department of Health issues a warning about the dangers of E-Cigarettes
In other breaking news, the California Department of Health took a stand against E-Cigarettes potential health hazards. The department urged legislators to regulate E-Cigarettes like they do for Tobacco products.
The state of California’s next salvo will be in the form of a public affairs campaign warning consumers about the threat posed by E-Cigarettes. Ron Chapman, the Department of public health informed the media about this push to inform the public on the unknown risks of E-Cigarettes.
Chapman said he is particularly concerned about the variety of flavors which E-Cigarettes offer to consumers.
One of the reasons so many consumers are flocking to E-Cigs is due to the industry’s extremely savvy marketing approach. E-Cig advertisers seem to have borrowed the playbook from the marijuana and vodka advertising executives that promote these products like a box of Fruit Loops. For example, the vodka marketers create brands like Maple Syrup Vodka, which feature an image of a stack of pancakes on each bottle. Sounds enticing?
E-Cigarette manufacturer’s advertisements are everywhere these days flooding the Internet, dotting highway billboard, and jamming the radio and television airwaves.
It is not only the mediums that they are promoted in that has attributed to its torrid growth, where it is set to grow 24.2% per year through 2018, according to new projections from Research and Markets. It is the branding of its cornucopia of product flavors such as Apple Cinnamon cereal and Pina Colada that has penetrated every demographic group including underage E-Cigarette smokers. Teens can easily acquire E-Cigarettes and their accouterments (nicotine solution) on the Internet.
“Vodka and marijuana companies are purposely catering to the teen demographic,” said Karen Corcoran-Walsh, founder of Inspirations for Youth and Families teen rehab and the Cove Center for Recovery adult treatment center. “By concocting E-Cigarette flavors like Cotton Candy gives the consumer a false sense of security. It’s like buying an ice-cream at Ben and Jerry’s. And the buyers most vulnerable are teens.”
So now that the E-Cigarette honeymoon seems to be ending and entering a new phase, its free reign of commerce without federal regulation appears to be moving in the same path as its rival – tobacco cigarettes.