April 28, 2015
“Brilliant. Well planned. Expertly executed.”
King’s College London and University College London have released the results of two studies focusing on the use of e-cigarettes relative to quitting smoking. Both studies are based on a survey of 1500 users completed in December 2012 with a follow-up one year later. So what did they find?
- 65% of daily e-cigarette users in December 2012 went on to making a quit attempt in the next year, versus 44% of non-users.
- An additional 14% of daily users in December 2013 had reduced their use of tobacco cigarettes by 50% or more, versus 6% of non-users.
- Daily e-cig users were not more likely to quit during the one year period. Non daily use was not associated with quitting, attempted quitting or reduction in cigarette consumption.
The first study’s lead author, Dr. Leonie Brose, said that conclusions about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a quitting aid cannot be drawn because the study surveyed users who were using e-cigarettes for any reason. But in spite of that fact, e-cigarette users were more likely to substantially reduce the number of cigarettes smoked and more likely to attempt quitting than non-users.
The results of the second study are where the proverbial rubber meets the road. This study examined not only how often e-cigarettes were used, but what kind of e-cigarette was used – cigalikes vs. tanks.
- At the one year follow-up, 587 people were using e-cigarettes. 76% using cigalikes, 24% using tanks.
- 28% of daily tank users had quit cigarette smoking at the one year mark. That’s more than two and a half times the 11% of successful quitters that were daily cigalike users, or the 13% of quitters not using e-cigarettes at all. But there’s more.
- Only 5% of non-daily cigalike users were successful quitters. Folks who did not use any kind of e-cigarette at all were more than twice as successful at quitting as those who used cigalikes on a non-daily basis.
That fact led to an article in the UK’s daily newspaper Mirror with the headline Tobacco giants fund e-cigarettes LEAST likely to make you quit .
Why are Big Tobacco’s cigalikes so ineffective in helping smokers quit?
According to the Mirror article, Tom Pruen from the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) says he doesn’t think tobacco companies are producing ineffective products deliberately. ECITA does a lot of good work. But with all due respect to Mr. Pruen – I disagree.
What is the primary revenue source for Big Tobacco? The one that produces more than $37 billion in annual profits? The one that is known to be “engineered” with more than 600 chemicals? Chemicals added during the manufacturing process to dramatically increase the addictiveness of their primary product? Combustible, tobacco, cigarettes.
Mass produce an inferior cigalike product. Distribute it to hundreds of thousands of convenience stores worldwide. Users try the cigalikes. They conclude that “e-cigarettes” are an unsatisfying alternative. And go right back to smoking – combustible, tobacco, cigarettes. What better way to cripple the first viable threat in history to Big Tobacco’s dominance?
The Mirror quotes Mr. Pruen:
“I think it’s more a reflection that the simple, sealed, cigalike products are better suited to the wholesale distribution channels they use, and the poor understanding of the market they had when buying up e-cig companies.”
I think it’s a reflection of a marketing plan that is nothing short of brilliant. One that does more, much more, than simply protect their market share. It also provides public health and politicians with an irresistible opportunity. Spin e-cigarettes as “Just another ploy by Big Tobacco to hook the next generation of our kids by starting them out on e-cigarettes as a gateway to tobacco cigarettes.”
Big Tobacco virtually “hired” public health and politicians to protect, if not increase, cigarette sales. Brilliant. Well planned. Expertly executed.
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