May 23, 2013

Blu, Big Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Big Tobacco Is Switching Rather Than Fighting

You gotta hand to Big Tobacco.

They know how to create brands and get people to buy their products. Of course, they spend literally billions of dollars on creative agencies and advertising, so it’s no wonder they’ve been able to create brands that everyone knows and recognizes – Marlboro, L&M, Winston, Camel, etc.

And now blu.

blu eCigs is a brand of e-cigarettes that was bought by Lorillard, the third largest tobacco company in the U.S. You may have seen their commercial featuring Stephen Dorff.

Why does Stephen Dorff do this commercial from the beach, when one of the huge advantages of e-cigarettes is the fact you can vape inside bars and restaurants?
I’m not a big fan of the blu eCigs commercials. My biggest criticism is the setting: Mr. Dorff is outside, on the beach. I have to wonder why they chose this particular setting. I mean, you may not be able to smoke on the beach in California and a handful of other states, but you can still smoke outside on most beaches and public parks.

One of the biggest advantages of e-cigarettes is the fact that you can vape inside most bars and restaurants, while smoking is banned from these indoor places in most states.

Picture watching this commercial with the mute button on (which is how I watch most commercials, if I watch them at all). They totally missed an opportunity to visually show one of the clear-cut advantages of e-cigarettes, particularly for people who are “social smokers” – mostly smoking when drinking.

And the tagline, “Rise from the Ashes,” also falls flat, because it fails to communicate the many other major advantages of e-cigarettes and the fact that they:
Let’s just take one of the advantages of e-cigarettes: the fact that e-cigarettes produce NO secondhand smoke.

According to the CDC, secondhand smoke kills nearly 50,000 Americans a year, and nearly 1,000 of them are infants. Worldwide, secondhand smoke kills 600,000 people a year, and nearly two-thirds of them are children. One in 100 people die worldwide from secondhand smoke.

In short, tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.

As part of a $206 billion dollar settlement in 1998, the big tobacco companies agreed to pay for advertising campaigns to educate consumers about the dangers of tobacco. But there was a catch: the settlement mandated that those ads could not vilify or attack the companies that make cigarettes.

Non-profit groups could vilify Big Tobacco for the pack of lies they used for years to sell cigarettes.
Fortunately, many non-profit anti-smoking organizations were not bound by the anti-vilification clause, and they had a field day, educating the public about Big Tobacco’s unscrupulous advertising methods aimed at teenagers to get them hooked (among other things).

So let's get back to the fact that Big Tobacco is now advertising e-cigarettes. There’s an inherent conflict of interest, because they would never say anything that would potentially hurt the brands of cigarettes they’re also selling.

In other words, they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth.

And I’m no longer listening.

May 16, 2013

E-Cigarette Brands. Brand DOES Matter. Here's Why.

Brand Matters in E-Cigarettes, Too.

Brand does matter. It matters both in brands of cigarettes as well as brands of e-cigarettes.

A study of women smokers from Scotland found that the women who smoked cigarettes from plain brown cigarette packs felt more negative about smoking even though they were smoking their regular brands.

They reportedly smoked fewer cigarettes, smoked less around others, stubbed out their cigarettes earlier and talked more about quitting when using the plain packs.

It appears that women are concerned with their image when it comes to choosing brands such as cigarettes. It’s a great insight – because it can be used to help drive down sales of cigarettes. It could also be used to help drive UP sales of e-cigarettes.

Young Women – A Target for Big Tobacco

Young women have long been a key target group for big tobacco companies, which created brands such as Virginia Slims, the Capri cigarette and Camel No. 9. Even Marlboro was originally targeted to women with the slogan “Mild as May” until it was repositioned to men in the 1950’s.

Tobacco companies were masters of advertising, promoting their brands to women using words like "slim" and "mild." 
Tobacco companies are masters at advertising to women, and while most advertising mediums are off limits to them, they can still use branding and packaging to appeal to young women, using visions of glamour, independence, slimness and sex appeal.

Unfortunately, they’ve been successful. While smoking rates overall have fallen to somewhere around 20 to 22 percent, they haven’t fallen enough, considering the fact that everyone knows smoking can cause lung cancer and may eventually be a death sentence.

Young women continue to pick up smoking. Many who start out as “social smokers” (smoking when drinking) end up getting hooked.

Big Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Clearly, Big Tobacco has decided they'd rather switch than fight.

Most of the biggest tobacco companies – Altria Group (owner of Phillip Morris), Reynolds American (owner of R.J. Reynolds) and Lorillard – are hitching their wagon to the new e-cigarettes.

Altria Group Inc. announced its plans to introduce an electronic cigarette in late 2013. It's the last of the major domestic tobacco companies to enter this growing category.

Reynolds American Inc., maker of Camel cigarettes, has begun limited distribution of its first electronic cigarette under the Vuse brand.

Lorillard Inc., the nation's third-biggest tobacco company, acquired e-cigarette maker blu eCigs in April 2012. You may have seen the blu eCig "Rise from the Ashes" advertisements, featuring Stephen Dorff at the beach talking about why he’s just as cool using his blu eCigs.

Even if you don't love these ads (personally, I'm not a fan), it's clear the same companies that are terrifically successful at branding and marketing cigarettes will be just as effective in marketing e-cigarettes.

Brand Matters. Why? Because It's About People and Profits. 

Brand does matter. Why? Because a brand represents a company. And a company is made up of people – people who run the company. People who make decisions about how they will price, package and promote their products. People who will ultimately decide where the profits from that company will go.

Lorillard, the third largest tobacco company in the U.S. is set to make more money every year. blu eCigs, their e-cigarette company, is contributing toward this growth.
The profits are huge for companies like Lorillard that have the money to advertise and promote their blu eCigs brand. The market for e-cigarettes is growing rapidly as more and more people discover the joys of vaping. Some analysts even predict that consumption of e-cigarettes could surpass consumption of traditional cigarettes in the next decade.

E-cigarettes are also driving down industry cigarette volumes. But companies like Lorillard, which shipped 40.2 billion cigarettes to men and women in the U.S. and reported net sales of $6.6 billion and a net income of $1.1 billion last year, shouldn't be too worried.

They're still set to make more money every year (see the above chart). In fact, blu eCigs will simply contribute to their bottom line and enable them to continue promoting Newport, Kent, Old Gold and their other brands of cigarettes.

The Best E-Cigarette Brands? You Choose.

Of course, we here at Vaping Vamps know that everyone has a choice about which company to purchase your e-cigarettes from.

You could choose a company like blu eCigs, where your sale will contribute to big profits for big tobacco.

Or you could choose a company like Vaping Vamps where the income from your sale will be put toward developing and offering the best e-cigarette starter kits, e-cigarette cases and accessories at the best prices we can. And where we pledge to donate 5 percent of all of our profits to organizations that contribute to women’s health.

You choose.

May 9, 2013

Happy Mothers are Smoke-free Mothers Who Switch to Vaping

Women Smoke Until They're Pregnant. Then A Switch Goes Off.

When I had my first baby (Rita, now age 27), the mother lion inside me came roaring out.

I would do anything to protect her from harm. I began envisioning things that could possibly hurt her and took every precaution to protect her – putting up baby gates, covers on electrical outlets, etc.

I distinctly remember driving home from my part-time job at the American Red Cross in St. Paul to nurse her when she was six months old. It was about a half-hour drive along a busy freeway. Truth is, I’m a pretty aggressive driver. But those days, I wasn’t taking any chances. I had to stay alive to take care of my baby!

Women who start smoking in their teens may not worry much about their health. At that age, they think they’re invincible.

Quitting smoking is the right thing to do when you're pregnant. But it can be tough to kick the habit, and you may be tempted to resume smoking after the baby is born. 
But when you’re pregnant, a whole other sensibility kicks in. Thank goodness, because smoking is obviously bad not just for the mother, but for her unborn baby.

The Dangers of Smoking in Pregnancy 

Women will often give up smoking during pregnancy because they know that the poisons in cigarettes affect the baby, increasing her heart rate and lowering her oxygen.

Smoking also increases the chances of miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth, and can greatly affect the baby’s lungs and birth weight. There is even evidence that women who smoke during pregnancy can cause life-long medical complications for her child, such as asthma and ear infections. And if that wasn’t enough, there's a financial cost, too; millions of dollars are spent on babies and children who pay the price of having a mother who smoked.

In fact, it’s so important to not smoke in pregnancy that some states are taking drastic measures to incent women to quit smoking. A Coordinated Care Organization in Eugene, Oregon is actually paying pregnant women cold, hard cash to stop smoking.

A campaign was set up by midwives in northern Ireland to try and stop women smoking during pregnancy after they learned that 15 percent of their maternity patients were smoking. The 'Smoke Free Womb' campaign uses DVD's, Facebook Smokefree Wombs, face to face sessions and cartoons to get their point across to women. Pregnant women who take part in the campaign are given information about how smoking affects their unborn child, and agree to work with the midwives to quit smoking.

Resuming Smoking After the Birth 

Women who quit smoking during pregnancy will sometimes resume the habit of smoking after their baby is born. But the danger to their baby isn’t over. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Babies should be protected from anything that could harm them. And that includes secondhand smoke. 
Chemicals from tobacco smoke reach women’s breast tissue and are found in breast milk. Children who are around smokers are more likely to have more frequent and severe asthma attacks, lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, bronchitis, lung infections and pneumonia. Some of these require hospitalization and can be life-threatening.

The only way to fully protect your baby from secondhand smoke is to prevent all smoking indoors. Making your home smoke-free may be one of the most important things you can do to protect your baby and children from health problems related to SHS.

What about Nicotine? Is it Harmful to my Baby?

Nicotine is released into your bloodstream and like caffeine, will affect your baby. So the soundest answer is to avoid nicotine and caffeine altogether when you’re pregnant.

The best advice we can give is to wean yourself off of nicotine as quickly as possible when you know you’re pregnant. Doctors who might even prescribe Zyban or Chantix would likely not prescribe it to a pregnant women (at least we hope not!).

The Vaping Vamps ‘Tri-Level E-Cigarette Starter Kit’ can help women who want to slowly lower their nicotine intake. It comes with five cartomizers in three different levels of nicotine – two high, two medium and one low. Eventually, you could switch to vaping an e-cigarette with no nicotine altogether!

Keep in mind that if you quit cold turkey, you may suffer symptoms of withdrawal because your body is used to nicotine. That’s why it makes sense to reduce your level of nicotine gradually.

Most people still are plagued with the urge to smoke after they quit. Of people who quit, 75 percent relapse, and most quit three times before they’re finally successful. That’s another reason why trying an e-cigarette starter kit makes good sense. An e-cigarette enables you to indulge your habit without exposing you to the 4,000 chemicals and 57 known carcinogens in cigarettes. It’s a great bridge to a life without cancer sticks!

Vaping Eliminates Secondhand Smoke. Completely.

With vaping, you’re not blowing smoke – you’re blowing vapor! And when you vape – guess what? NO sidestream smoke, because you don’t have a lit, burning cigarette. Your battery is dormant and can actually be carried around in your purse. And there’s no mainstream smoke either.

Here are a few tips to prevent you from resuming smoking after your baby is born:
  • Ask people who smoke not to smoke around you. 
  • Drink fewer caffeinated beverages; caffeine may stimulate your urge to smoke. 
  • Avoid alcohol, as it may also increase your urge to smoke and can be harmful to your baby if you’re nursing. 
  • Try vaping a non-nicotine e-cigarette when you get the urge to smoke. It can help satisfy the hand-to-mouth habit and cravings while not exposing you or your baby to either nicotine or secondhand smoke.