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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Big Tobacco - friend or foe to vapers?

I recently was sent a device to review from Blu, called the Blu Pro. A 950 mAh lithium battery, a safe charger and a tank. A TANK! The whole thing was nicely made, well packed and idiot proof - and not expensive. They are on sale in many shops and tobacconists across the UK. I felt they were a most reasonable introductory device for smokers buying their cigarettes at the thousands of tobacco outlet counters that exist here.

Blu has recently been obtained by Imperial Tobacco, who have placed the brand into their Netherlands based subsidiary Fontem Ventures. It is Fontem which flies Hon Lik round the world to talk about his inspiration for the e-cigarette. Fontem promotes electronic cigarettes in opposition to Imperial Tobacco. So many "experts" in the public health community in the UK believe Big Tobacco is using e-cigarettes with the covert objective of renormalising smoking.

I have thought that the devices produced so far by Fontem, the Puritane in the UK, and Jai in France, cig-a-likees - first generation e-cigarettes were what Big Tobacco have been lobbying to have "medicine status" for. Big Tobacco seem to be working against vapers by supporting med-regs. We have felt they are as against us as the anti-smoking groups are. It's a plot. 

So I was surprised to get a 2nd generation device in the mail.

Article 20 of the Tobacco Control Directive soon under discussion in the UK, will stop vaping as we know it. The E U's revised Tobacco Products Directive coming into effect May 2016 for e-cigarettes includes a ban on advertising, limits on liquid container sizes, warnings covering 30% of the pack, and the strong concentrations of nicotine that some of us use, will require authorisation by MHRA as over-the-counter medicines in the UK. The new regulations will affect all aspects of vaping and, despite our protests, I expect the worst. Some regulations show that Big Antis are dreaming - like -
Uniform Dosing -  Users should receive consistent nicotine delivery when they use an e-cigarette. Devices should be designed to ensure that the same puff, for example 5 seconds consuming 0.003ml liquid, always delivers the same amount of nicotine. Link

I felt that the device put out by Blu was quite different to any of the other "electronic cigarettes" Big Tobacco have offered to date. It's a Second Generation vapouriser. I felt that a smoker topping up with cigarettes, would easily buy one to try. It is good enough to be satisfying. For smokers that won't go into a Vape Shop, or for those who spontaneously feel the time to quit is "NOW", a well made device on the counter promotes a good thing.

I disagree with Hon Lik who said “By using the existing distribution channels of the tobacco companies to tobacconists, maybe it is the best way for consumers to access e-cigarettes.” 
But I would say “By using the existing distribution channels of the tobacco companies to tobacconists, IS the best way for current SMOKERS to access nicotine vapourisers.” 

Unlike many people, I do not hate Big Tobacco and blame them for making me smoke, nor blame Big Alcohol for turning me into an alcoholic, or Big Food for making me fat. I think the dishonesty about smoking from Big Tobacco has just about been equalled by Tobacco Control about the harms of of SHS and now, of vaping. 

If Big Tobacco is moving out into proper second generation devices, they too will have to conform to Article 20. They will either be a vaper's friend with clout, and money (useful in a corrupt system) that might influence the mess coming out of the European Union, or foe, by nefariously usurping the vaping status quo. 

What do you think? Discussion welcome!

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