Why E-cigs vs Tobacco isn’t necessarily – David vs Goliath

According to a recent BBC News report, this year it’s estimated that over a million British residents are now active users of e-cigarettes, the popular electronic alternative to tobacco cigarettes.

Despite these figures, many industry experts and publications claim that when it comes to competing with the tobacco industry, the electronic industry doesn’t have a chance. With increasing numbers of tobacco companies such as Lorillard Inc. which are producing their own electronic devices,  alongside recent reports from Businessweek confirming that e-cigs only currently account for 1% of total U.S. cigarette sales.

However, there’s plenty of statistics, research and upcoming trends which prove that e-cigarettes have the potential to put up a fight. One of the most blaringly obvious signs of this involves the overall decline of the global tobacco industry in the 21st century. This can be explained by a number of reasons, the most important being the health concerns of tobacco smoking. In the UK smoking takes the lives of around 100,000 people per year thanks to the dangerous levels of chemicals found in traditional tobacco cigarettes.

There’s also been as increase in charitable organisations choosing to invest in electronic cigarette sponsorship in order to guarantee their longevity as a charity, presenting them with a more ethical opportunity to receive funds from other profitable organisations without the obvious health stigmas of smoking tobacco, which is particularly important to distinguish amongst cancer or hospice charities.

Alongside an overall decline in tobacco sales, this decreases the likelihood that tobacco companies will form any serious competition when invading the e-cig’s turf. It also paves the way for the electronic cigarette to use this decline to their advantage, with their campaign being helped by an increase in both sales and publicity.

This year it was predicted that globally the electronic cigarette industry will receive profits of well over $3 billion by the end of the year, with sales estimated to reach $10 billion by 2017. On a global scale the electronic cigarette industry is now worth $2 billion, with broker Canaccord predicted that as a result e-cigs will be the most significant development in the history of the regulated tobacco industry.

What has monumentally helped this increase in sales is the amount of positive publicity e-cigs have received thanks to an abundance of objective research which advocates for the innovation due to their health benefits. Earlier this year at the 2013 E-Cigarette Summit, Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London, told the public that “millions of lives” could be saved if all smokers in the world switched from tobacco to electronic.

West serves as just one example of a respected medical professional who advocates for their usage, alongside Lynne Dawkins from the University of East London who supported the idea that the digital sticks are a “viable safer alternative” to tobacco cigarettes. For non-smokers e-cigarettes are also a welcome trend, producing no passive smoke to inhale which instead have been replaced with an odourless and harmless water vapour which quickly dissipates into the air. Not only do they present positives for other by-standers when used either indoors or outdoors, but their environmentally friendly nature shows how as a consequence of these features, it’s predicted by American banking company Wells Fargo that e-cigarette consumption has the potential to overtake conventional tobacco consumption within a decade.

Whilst the tobacco industry benefits from existing customer relationships and a wealth of prestigious albeit morally questionable sponsorship deals, the electronic cigarette industry benefits from organic positive publicity, helped by their potential to save lives and reduce pressure on medical services like the NHS. Whilst lobbyists try to take down tobacco through protests and tax breaks, this has given e-cigarettes the perfect opportunity to develop into a beneficial and profitable industry, proving how tobacco vs. e-cig isn’t going to be a one-sided battle.

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