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Tobacco Companies Cover Tracks With Harsh E-Cig Warnings

e-cigBy Alan Lyndon

Tobacco companies are seemingly covering their tracks as they place strong health warnings on their own packaging of electronic cigarettes.  These warnings, in some cases, go even farther than traditional cigarette warnings, according to The New York Times.

The warning label on MarkTen, a popular brand of e-cigs made by Altria, the manufacturer of Marlboros, reads in part: “Nicotine is addictive and habit forming, and is very toxic by inhalation, in contact with the skin, or if swallowed.”

William Phelps, a spokesman for Altria, told the Times that the warnings on MarkTen reflect “a goal to openly and honestly communicate about health effects.”

But some experts suggest that the reason for the warnings may not be entirely altruistic. “Is this part of a noble effort for the betterment of public health, or a cynical business strategy? I suspect the latter,” said Dr. Robert K. Jackler, a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine where he leads research into cigarette and e-cigarette advertising.

Bill Godshall, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, told Physicians News that e-cigs “are consumed almost exclusively by smokers and ex-smokers” and “have helped several million smokers quit.”

However, the warning label on Vuse, an e-cig made by Reynolds American, and MarkTen states that electronic cigarettes are not a smoking cessation product.


  1. Why the FDA should not regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
    The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products has two goals that seem to go hand-in-hand: Reduce tobacco use, and reduce the number of smoking-related diseases and deaths. If there was a product that was achieving both goals, why would the FDA take the nonsensical step of classifying it as a tobacco product?We understand that the rapid acceptance of e-cigarettes by the public has outpaced federal and state regulations and the industry looks forward to working with lawmakers and regulators to create common-sense rules. But e-cigarettes are not tobacco products and should not be regulated as such. E-cigarettes are a boon for public health because they help smokers quit using cigarettes, thereby reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths. The FDA and Congress should recognize this and propose an alternate regulatory pathway.

  2. The level of naivety in this article is staggering. Where to even start?

    Tobacco companies are not “covering their tracks” as the article states. Tobacco companies DO NOT VIEW e-cigarettes as their future. They see them as a competitor to be eliminated. You only have to read their comments to the FDA to realise this – why on earth would they want the FDA to press ahead with such stringent regulation that it will almost completely stifle the nascent industry leaving only commoditised products that only the largest of players could afford to produce the compliance work for? Because they want it to fail, and whatever is left they want to own. They would be the only people left with the funds to enter it.

    Given the corrupting nature of their involvement in regulatory processes and their appalling history, do you believe that they are making an honest and open warning as to the health effects, or could it be to use their very influence and seeming positivity to cast a toxic shadow across e-cigarettes? I know which I believe.

    Finally, the reason that the label states it is not a cessation device is because they are not legally allowed to do so. It has nothing to do with the efficacy of the products for this purpose, and to say otherwise is to be rather economical with the truth.

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