A Billion Lives: The E-Cig Dilemna
Written by Sealion Sho2DaPan
The smoker that had given up “giving up”
I was particularly struck by one speaker namely the vaping advocate Lorien Jollye Her insightful description of how she feels as a 23 year smoker and now a vaper for 3 years I believe resonates with many vapers both old and new who might well be asking themselves the very same question “why are e-cigs being attacked?” or perhaps more accurately “why am I still being attacked, now I’ve actually found a way to give up smoking?” You can listen to the excellent Lorien here:http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/2015/session_detail/9978
The facts are:
• This century 1 billion smokers will die from tobacco use as quoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
• E-cigs according to numerous scientific studies and most recently the definitive Public Health England report is that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than continuing to smoke tobacco.
• Millions of smokers worldwide have now found and successfully quit tobacco use due to the e-cig, without any involvement from Public Health or Tobacco control and crucially at zero cost to anyone but themselves.
Yet remarkably we are still repeatedly hearing calls from Public Health and Tobacco Control of numerous reasons why e-cigs must be heavily regulated or banned.
When I finished watching the above debate I was surprised that not one speaker had given any mention to what may be the primary motivation in fighting an unscientific propaganda and regulatory war against e-cigs. If Big T truly are the enemy of Tobacco Control then why are the regulatory demands favouring them and subsequently making it more difficult for smokers to switch to non Big T owned e-cigs? The answer I believe to “why is there a war on e-cigs?” could actually be answered by one solitary word – MONEY – or to use the more accurate description the Tobacco Economy.
Money has been described as the root of all evil and with WHO predicting a billion deaths this century due to tobacco smoking it could be argued that everything and anything that exists due to funding from the Tobacco Economy/Industry are equally financially motivated to protect smoking. A recent Scottish Parliamentary Public Petitions Committee Meeting made this very point. I’m indebted to the excellent Dick Puddlecote blog for this wonderful excerpt and the full blog can be found here: http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/beg-for-mercy-duffy.html
PROBLEM SOLVED – FUNDING STOPPED?
If your organisation, career, income, funding, pension, even tobacco taxes exists because of the “problem” of tobacco smoking, can there truly be a strong motivation to actually want the “problem” solved? So Tobacco Control organisations financially need smoking to continue. Pharma financially need smoking to continue in order to sell NRT and benefit from the harm & disease smoking causes. Governments financially need smoking to continue so they can raise tobacco tax revenue and so the list continues.
As Jackson Carlaw MSP rightly observed, without the problem of tobacco smoking even ASH wouldn’t need to exist together with every other Tobacco Control organisation scattered around the world. All Tobacco Control quangos rely on the blood money from smoking and subsequently vaping must be a real risk to their whole existence. So is it any real surprise that vaping has been under so much scrutiny by these very organisations and quangos? Logically, they should all welcome the fact that due to e-cigs millions of smokers are now tobacco free in just a few years? A feat I might add that 30 years of Pharmaceutical driven NRT treatments couldn’t dream of accomplishing.
So let’s examine in (I hope) simplistic terms what the Tobacco Economy is and why understanding it leads to posing this question:
With the emergence of e-cigs, society has a very simple choice – What matters most? Wealth or Health?
THE TOBACCO ECONOMY
Tobacco companies manufacture cigarettes and smokers buy them – if only the tobacco economy were that simple. The easiest way for me to explain the Tobacco Economy and the “players” involved is to point you here http://tctactics.org/index.php/Money where you will find this excellent flow chart together with additional explanatory information.
Let’s now place some real tobacco sales numbers into that flow chart.
According to Euromonitor in 2014 smokers spent $744 billion dollars worldwide on tobacco cigarettes. For this blog I’m going to ignore the sales generated from the world’s largest tobacco company, the State owned China National Tobacco Company
Unless my maths is wrong that means that the world’s top tobacco companies excluding China generate retail sales of £518 billion dollars. I’ll call this figure 1.
Below is a chart listing the top 10 tobacco company’s worldwide (excluding China) with their net sales.
Now this part is extremely important. The above chart is for net sales which is the money that tobacco companies actually receive and excludes excise duties and other local taxes e.g. Vat etc. that are collected on behalf of the respective Governments of where the cigarettes are sold. Analysis of company accounts confirms these figures to be accurate. These add up to a total of $143.7 billion dollars. I’ll call this figure 2.
Figure 1 Worldwide cigarette retail sales $518 billion
Figure 2 Actual Big T company revenues $143.7 billion
DIFFERENCE $374.30 billion
This money isn’t going to Big T, but Governments and states worldwide.
They in turn use a proportion of it to finance Tobacco Control organisations and Tobacco control policies such as Public Health Stop Smoking Services within the UK.
To put this enormous sum of money into perspective in the UK tobacco excise duty and Vat generates c. £12 billion pounds in revenue or $18.18 billion dollars, roughly 5% of the above figure. The tax on tobacco in the UK is as much as 82% so when a smoker buys a packet of 20 cigarettes in reality he’s buying 16 of them from the Government. This £12 billion sum is the equivalent to an additional 3p on the basic rate of UK personal income tax.
The angst against Big T we repeatedly hear from Tobacco Control usually centres on the obscene profits that they generate from selling a product that kills and harms. However headline figures and Tobacco Control propaganda doesn’t accurately convey the true facts regarding tobacco sales and the real winners and losers of the tobacco economy. The smoker sadly is always the loser, but he’s an easy target. Governments are the biggest winners.
Taking BAT as an example, within Western Europe the average price they receive for a packet of their manufactured cigarettes is just £0.63. This still allows them to actually generate £0.22 in net profit for every packet of cigarettes they sell in Western Europe and they sell no less than 5.6 billion of them. Little numbers quickly add up to massive profits when you’re selling high volumes to millions of addicted smokers.
BAT are typical of every major tobacco company in that tobacco cigarettes can be manufactured for pennies. However, because of taxation being regularly used as a deterrent by Tobacco Control policy this has inadvertently created a vicious circle of financial reliance on the very products and behaviour that our society seemingly wants to stop – smoking!
So when e-cigs appeared and successfully delivered to the smoking consumer a safer method of obtaining the legal and recreational benign drug that is nicotine the alarm bells rang for all and sundry who directly or indirectly financially benefited from the Tobacco Economy. After all tobacco smokers were a soft target for raising tax revenue falling conveniently under the guise of Tobacco Control policy. Tobacco Control organisations could push for tobacco tax increases and secure Govt. funding financed by these tax increases. So imagine the panic when US financial analysts were predicting that e-cigs could ultimately lead to the demise of the Tobacco Industry and smoking? This wasn’t a single steel plant in Yorkshire, but an industry the size of Sweden in economic terms.
This excerpt from Tobacco Control Tactics sums up the whole sordid Tobacco Economy incestuous cycle which smokers worldwide are all caught up in:
“The losers are the people”
A fuller explanation of the Tobacco Economy and money flow can be located here:
The end game?
When I listened to that debate “Why are e-cigs being attacked?” I believed that the real reason had been missed. Money pure and simple is the reason why e-cigs are having such a tenuous and difficult period. The real problem for vaping isn’t if it is safe or effective or whether it has the ability to eradicate tobacco smoking and save a billion lives this century, but the fact that the current Tobacco Economy is so huge and benefits so many parasites, who are perfectly happy to financially benefit from the harm that smoking causes. Funded ironically by the poor smokers themselves. Ultimately all the e-cig concerns have simply been decoys to the primary reason why e-cigs have been attacked.
Ten years ago, maybe one could have given them the benefit of the doubt with their motives, but since e-cigs have emerged and their positive scientific evidence their true colours are now being shown. Careers, organisations and personal wealth are deemed far more important than allowing e-cigs and vaping to replace the tobacco economy. Smokers themselves generally accept or maybe ignore the risks that they take with continuing to smoke. After all it’s their choice to smoke but freedom of choice is a fundamental requirement of a civilised society and that should also mean giving smokers the right to freely choose a safer alternative to tobacco and what and how they vape and who they obtain it from.
When one looks at the Tobacco Economy as it is now, in order for e-cigs to flourish and prosper and fulfil their future potential of saving a billion lives this century the question must be asked who will be the financial losers and winners? Smokers converting over to e-cigs create a significant problem – a massive financial black hole within the existing Tobacco Economy.
I believe that this Govt. and probably all others who benefit from it don’t want the Tobacco Economy decimated. This has always been their primary concern. Future changes to its balance have to be planned and gradual. After all the Tobacco Economy in the Western World exists because of the almost British and American monopoly in worldwide tobacco manufacturing and sales. Not to mention the predominance of UK & US Pharmaceutical companies all of whom are party and beneficiaries of the tobacco economy. Big T also churn out massive secure dividends each year that benefit every UK pension fund. I also believe that they now see the Public Health benefits of e-cigs and that they know they can’t be hidden away like snus has been in Sweden.
E-cigs logically however shouldn’t be taxed like tobacco. If smokers and public health are to take precedence over raising money than e-cig use has to be promoted and not penalised. Therein however lays the biggest problem. In order to protect the Tobacco economy Big T logically have to be part of it. Governments will still want their tax. Big T have a mandate to protect shareholder value i.e. protect their financial interests. Even Big Pharma have similar financial motives. Vaping can’t win unless other parties within the existing tobacco economy actually lose.
So what really are the priorities of the decision makers in Government? Do UK PLC and the economy take precedence over Public Health? I suspect it does, especially with the Conservatives in power. Vaping and e-cigs are fiscally disruptive. I’m sure that Government and the Tobacco economy could easily survive without Tobacco Control as they could be considered collateral damage. So maybe one can start to understand how politicians in facing these problems the solution decided has been a very simple one. In order to protect UK PLC and the tobacco economy whilst accepting that e-cigs are preferable to tobacco the solution will be – GIVE E-CIGS TO BIG TOBACCO.
It could well transpire that these decisions have already been made in that Big T or should I say the Governments tax collectors are already being groomed to accept e-cig taxation in return for the forthcoming regulatory provisions that favour them within the EU and over in America? I hope I’m wrong.
To protect vaping and e-cigs the arguments aren’t now scientific, but does society feel that saving a billion lives this century is worth losing the $370 billion a year that would be generated by tobacco sales from those poor billion smokers. Hopefully this forthcoming film will help?
You are being lied to – A billion lives.
Here’s a link to the video: