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Tobacco Manufacturer Lorillard Buys Electronic Cigarette Company

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Tobacco manufacturer Lorillard has purchased Blue Ecigs, a company that makes electronic cigarettes. This is the first foray by a major tobacco company into the small, but quickly expanding, market of e-cigarettes, according to The Wall Street Journal.

E-cigarettes are battery powered, and turn heated liquid laced with nicotine into a vapor mist. Lorillard’s acquisition comes at a time of falling cigarette sales. Prices for e-cigarettes are often much lower than traditional cigarettes, which are taxed heavily.

The company’s rivals Altria and Reynolds are pushing smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff and snus, the article notes. The companies are also eyeing a possible crackdown by the Food and Drug Administration on menthol cigarettes.

E-cigarettes account for between $250 and $500 million in annual sales in the United States, according to the newspaper. They still represent just a small percentage of the $100 billion U.S. tobacco market.

Legislators in some states, including New York and Arizona, have introduced measures that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. In Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Utah, bills would extend smoking bans in public areas to include e-cigarettes. Other states are considering bills that would require special taxes on the devices, or halt Internet sales.

Public health groups say not enough is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes. They are also concerned e-cigarettes, which come in flavors such as cherry, chocolate and piña colada, are attractive to youth.

FDA announced last April that it would regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, treating them the same as traditional cigarettes. The FDA said it would not try to regulate e-cigarettes under stricter rules for drug-delivery devices. In 2010, the FDA lost a court case after it tried to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, which must satisfy stricter requirements than tobacco products, including clinical trials to prove they are safe and effective.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Jean
    Jean / May 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    The only reason any large corporation–tobacco or otherwise–would buy an e-cig company is for profit. Don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re doing it for the good of consumers. I would also expect prices to drastically increase if Corporate America owns it.

  2. Fred C / April 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I like what you said maxwood, Nicotine is an addiction and no addiction is good, but at least they aren’t taking all the other hundreds of chemicals and burnt leaves into their lungs. I’ve been in the room with an ecig smoker and there wasn’t any offensive odor. While still not as good as quitting altogether, it has to be a better alternative. It’s a compromise I can live with.

  3. maxwood / April 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Good news, it shows big corporations can see the impending end of cigarette smoking as we have known it (6,000,000 deaths and all). To those Legislators who fear “unknown” dangers– never was it more pertinent to say, “Consider the (known) alternative”.

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