We recently learned that the FDA was considering the ban of child-friendly e-cigarette flavors at gas stations and convenience stores. But in a surprising twist, the move might actually be a boon for tobacco companies.
The ones that stand to suffer most are companies like Juul that have made their brand all about enticing vape flavors. The Verge notes that Juul dominates more than 70% of the e-cigarette market. But the tobacco industry is a different matter. The article explains why.
“But a majority of adults who use e-cigarettes use cigarettes as well, which means that tobacco companies are losing out on the nicotine delivery market. Analysts say that what’s bad for Juul is good for tobacco companies, including those that manufacture vapes of their own. “We continue to believe any FDA action to restrict sales of e-cigs to minors will benefit tobacco manufacturers,” Bonnie Herzog, managing director of equity research at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, says in an emailed analysis. “We therefore expect tobacco stocks to trade up on the news.”
When the tobacco industry is dancing in the streets over a ban, it should probably be reconsidered. There is a good chance the proposed ban will not go far enough. And a half job might be even more harmful to the public at large. Taking the fruity flavored competition out of one of the key retail outlets leaves only the more dangerous combustibles behind the counter.
There is no reason to expect this ban to stop teens from smoking. Teens have been smoking long before vaping was a part of the culture. While still dangerous, vaping has been shown to be a safer option than smoking. Parents who don’t want their kids to smoke would likely rather see them vape than smoke.
It would be a mistake to think the enticing flavors are only appealing to teens. Adults are also attracted to the flavors. And losing those options is expected to push them into the open arms of the tobacco companies once again.
Some have pointed out that if it is just about flavors, there are plenty of flavored cigars and cigarillos still available. If the ban does not cover all kid-flavored products, it will have missed a big opportunity.
When it comes to making products targeted at kids, the e-cigarette companies are just as bad as the tobacco companies. Vape flavor products are often packaged to look like popular candy, cookies, and other products appealing to kids. Bans have been threatened in the past. But serious bans are considered unlikely under the current administration.