E-Cigarette Interview with David Sweanor Cont.
How do you feel about the public health campaigners, via their campaign to ban electronic cigarettes, attempting to limit the choice of addicted smokers unable or unwilling to quit smoking to cigarettes and cigarettes alone?
I don’t think public health campaigners do this. I think some people on a moralistic abstinence-only agenda take this position, just as some take the position that consumers of alcohol should have no alternative to products like Jamaican Jake or that no one should have access to birth control, or that heroin addicts should not be given clean needles. But those people are not public health campaigners.
At the same time, I think there are people who are legitimate public health campaigners who oppose products like e-cigarettes. This can be because they want all such products to come within a comprehensive regulatory framework for all medicinal and recreational nicotine products; one designed to help move smokers away from cigarettes. They fear that unregulated products could proliferate and create a huge ‘snake oil’ business. But I also think it is incumbent upon such people to be advocating for such a regulatory framework rather than just inadvertently protecting the cigarette business.
The issue of electronic cigarettes is up in the air at the moment. How do you see the future - will it follow Snus into oblivion or will it become the smoking method of the future?
I think we are in the early stages of a revolution on recreational nicotine delivery. Just as with the telecommunications revolution it is likely impossible at an early stage to know how it will change. But it is a safe bet that consumer interests and entrepreneurship will combine to cause fundamental change, as we are already seeing with the rapid growth of non-combustion tobacco products in places such as Norway and the United States and the much greater use of medicinal nicotine products for purposes other than near-immediate nicotine cessation. The winning products in this market transformation will likely be of a wide variety, given differing consumer preferences and the nature of dynamic markets. I personally think that some of the most successful products will likely help consumers wean themselves off nicotine over time. But hundreds of millions of smoking-caused deaths will be averted by greater consumer choice and a proliferation of products, untold billions of dollars will be made by the owners of the successful products, and innumerable jobs will be created as this market transforms. Seldom is there an offer to become a billionaire while saving millions of lives. I think there will be takers.