TIME Culture

Up in Smoke: The Rise and Fall of Big Tobacco

"According to this survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette," is just one of the phrases we no longer hear in commercials

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Earlier this week, a $27.4 billion deal was announced that will merge two of the largest American tobacco companies, Reynolds American and Lorillard.

The deal comes at a time when cigarette smokers are at a steady decline. Even so, Marlboro still makes some lists of most valuable brands in the world.

And while it’s hard to remember the days when Camels were advertised as the most preferred cigarettes by doctors, a small segment of the industry is quickly growing: e-cigarettes.

Above, take a quick look at the history of America’s complicated relationship with the addictive habit.

TIME Companies

Big Tobacco Firms Merge as Cigarette Sales Decline

Packs of Camel cigarettes, manufactured by Reynolds American Inc., in a display rack in London on July 11, 2014.
Packs of Camel cigarettes, manufactured by Reynolds American Inc., in a display rack in London on July 11, 2014. Bloomberg/Getty Images

Reynolds American announced Tuesday that it would buy the third largest tobacco company in the U.S., Lorillard for $27.4 billion

Faced with a steady decline in cigarette sales, Reynolds American Inc. announced Tuesday that it would buy the third largest tobacco company in the U.S., Lorillard, Inc. for $27.4 billion.

The deal will make Reynolds American the second largest tobacco company in the U.S. after Altria Inc., maker of Marlboro cigarettes.

The companies will merge Reynold’s flagship brands, Camel, Pall Mall and American Spirit cigarettes, with Lorillard’s portfolio of Newport menthol-flavored cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Those two sectors are isolated areas of growth in an industry that has seen U.S. cigarette consumption decline by 4% last year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

TIME tobacco

Nearly 1 in 5 High School Seniors Smoke Hookah, Study Finds

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Emy Kat—Getty Images/GraphEast RF

The variety of flavors of tobacco makes hookah attractive and easier to conceal from parents, study found

Almost 1 in 5 (18%) of high school seniors smoke waterpipes, or “hookahs”, according to a new study from New York University (NYU) researchers.

The new report, which is published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at a survey of 15,000 high school seniors from 130 public and private high schools nationwide and focused on a population of 5,540 students who were asked about their hookah use between 2010 and 2012.

The researchers found that about one in five seniors reported smoking hookah–waterpipes used to smoke specially-made tobacco–in the last year. And smoking hookah was more common among teens in big cities.

“What we find most interesting is that students of higher socioeconomic status appear to be more likely to use hookah,” said study author Joseph J. Palamar, an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use.”

Cigarette smoking rates among young people are down, with a recent CDC report showing rates of cigarette smoking among high school students has dropped to its lowest level in 22 years. But public health workers are also worried about other tobacco and nicotine products like cigars, hookah, and e-cigarettes. A 2012 report showed a 123% increase in the use of other smokable tobacco products like cigars and pipes.

The researchers note, however, that smoking hookah doesn’t usually happen as often as cigarettes, and tends to happen more occasionally. Still, the researchers are worried about “hookah pens,” smoking devices similar to e-cigs which makes smoking hookah simpler. “These nifty little devices are likely to attract curious consumers, possibly even non-cigarette smokers,” said Palamar. Hookah tobacco tends to come in different flavors, and may be easier to conceal.

TIME Companies

Philip Morris to Sell Real Tobacco ‘HeatSticks’ As Cigarette Alternative

Marlboro-Cigarette Alternatives
This product image provided by Philip Morris International shows the iQOS device. Marlboro HeatSticks are heated to more than 660 degrees Fahrenheit (350 degrees Celsius) in the device to create a tobacco-flavored nicotine vapor. AP

Philip Morris International is joining the trend of alternatives to cigarettes by releasing a new Marlboro product called HeatSticks that vaporizes tobacco instead of burning it

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Philip Morris International Inc. is hoping to capitalize on the growing appetite for alternatives to traditional smokes like e-cigarettes with a new Marlboro-branded product that heats tobacco rather than burning it.

The world’s second-biggest tobacco company on Thursday detailed its plans to release the Marlboro HeatSticks in cities in Japan and Italy later this year, with further expansion plans in 2015.

The products represent another run at improving heating technologies that failed when originally introduced in the 1990s.

The short, cigarette-like sticks are heated to maximum of 660 degrees Fahrenheit (350 degrees Celsius) in a hollow pen-like device called iQOS (pronounced EYE-cohs) to create a tobacco-flavored nicotine vapor. Unlike popular e-cigarettes that use liquid nicotine, HeatSticks contain real tobacco, a point the company believes will make them more attractive to cigarette smokers.

It’s one of several so-called “reduced-risk” products Philip Morris International plans to test as the industry diversifies beyond traditional cigarettes amid declining demand.

Products like the HeatSticks “represent a potential paradigm shift for the industry, public health and adult smokers,” CEO Andre Calantzopoulos said during an investor day presentation Thursday.

The company, based in New York and Switzerland, has spent about $2 billion over more than a decade on development of the products and expects that iQOS would boost its profit by $700 million when sales reach 30 billion units.

The overseas Marlboro maker announced plans in January to invest up to 500 million euros (about $680 million) for two plants in Italy to make the products.

On Tuesday, the company said in addition to its own cigarette alternatives, it purchased U.K.-based e-cigarette maker Nicocigs Ltd. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In the 1990s, the contraptions that heat tobacco rather than burning it didn’t pass muster with smokers. Even though the products left no lingering odor and didn’t produce ashes, they tasted different than cigarettes and were more difficult to use.

Now, a surging e-cigarette industry has tobacco companies hoping for a resurgence of the technologies that some argue are less harmful than lighting up.

With the health risks associated with traditional cigarettes and changes in societal expectations, it’s no wonder many of the world’s 1 billion smokers want to quit or try other tobacco alternatives. In the U.S., nearly half of the nation’s 42 million adult smokers try to quit each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In more recent years, much of the attention to quitting has steered away from nicotine gum and patches to electronic cigarettes, which many smokers credit with helping them kick the habit.

HeatSticks build on Accord — a product with a clunky pager-like heater in which smaller cigarettes were inserted — that was test-marketed in the late 1990s by Philip Morris USA, which spun off its international business in 2008 and is owned by Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group Inc.

One of its other products in development resembles Eclipse, a cigarette introduced by competitor R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in the mid-1990s that used a carbon tip that heated tobacco after being lit by a lighter.

“Smokers then considered Eclipse to be a very foreign, very different, very novel concept in smoking, where today, compared to electronic cigarettes, tobacco heating cigarettes are much more familiar,” said J. Brice O’Brien, head of consumer marketing for Reynolds.

Reynolds hasn’t announced plans to reinvigorate Eclipse, but it is still in limited distribution and one of the top-selling brands in the cafeteria at the company’s Winston-Salem, North Carolina, headquarters.

Philip Morris International and former parent company Altria have agreed to share their technology for electronic cigarettes and other new alternatives to traditional cigarettes, so HeatSticks could potentially be marketed in the U.S. eventually.

Both companies have noted the potential for the products to be less risky than traditional cigarettes and could apply to the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. to market them as such.

TIME Cancer

The Government’s Super Scary New Anti-Smoking Campaign

CDC

The CDC releases its next set of graphic ads to encourage smokers to kick the habit for good—or else

The newest phase of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) graphic campaign to persuade America’s 42 million smokers to quit—”Tips from Former Smokers”—launches today, and it’s heart wrenching.

Since 2012, the campaign has featured real former smokers dealing with serious health problems spawned by their addiction, and this round is bound to make smokers and non-smokers alike squirm. It’s an especially graphic campaign from the CDC’s tobacco office, which has not shied away from bold, conversation-starting efforts to curb smoking.

Here’s an example: Shawn provides tips on how to live with a hole in your neck. Amanda, meanwhile, smoked during pregnancy and gave birth to her baby two months early.

Here are the newest ads, which the CDC provided early to TIME:

Amanda, a 30-year-old who smoked while pregnant. Her 3 lb daughter spent weeks in an incubator.

Brett, 49, who lost most of his teeth to gum disease by age 42. He takes out most of his teeth on camera.

Rose, 59, whose lung cancer resulted in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Shawn, 50, who breathes through the opening in his throat due to smoking-related throat cancer.

Brian, 45, whose smoking and HIV led to clogged blood vessels and resulted in a stroke.

Felicita, 54, who lost all of her teeth to gum disease by age 50.

Terrie, who died of cancer last September at age 53

Previously released ads ran earlier this year in February, and a CDC spokesperson told TIME that the “effort had immediate and strong impact.” During the last set of the ads’ nine-week run, they generated over 100,000 additional calls to the CDC’s quit line, 800-QUIT-NOW. On average, the CDC says weekly quitline calls were up 80% while the ads were on the air compared to the week before they began running. Preliminary estimates show there were nearly 650,000 unique visitors to the the agency’s website during those nine weeks.

The ads will be placed on cable TV, on radio, in print, on billboards, and in movie theater and online starting July 7. The CDC is also launching a social media campaign to support its tradition-media plays.

Of course, considering tobacco is a $100 billion market, and the industry continues to spend billions every year, the campaign is a drop in the pond. But it certainly stands out.

If you want to quit smoking, you can call l 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.cdc.gov/tips.

TIME Companies

Dutch Company Rolls Out ‘E-Joints’ Modeled After E-Cigarettes

This company is high off innovation

First e-cigarettes, now “e-joints”: the Dutch company E-Njoint B.V. is introducing a new, “100% legal” product that allows “people to enjoy a variety of flavors, relaxing, while expressing themselves in a unique way.”

Designed to look like a marijuana cigarette, the E-Njoint, as it’s called, has an image of a marijuana leaf on its tip that lights up when in use, the International Business Times reports. The fake joints don’t have nicotine or THC in them, but rather vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and flavoring. After the E-Njoints vaporize the original contents, however, consumers can load the reusable products with liquid forms of marijuana and “vape” those — a way of getting high that’s already inspired some entrepreneurs.

“Holland is well known in the world for its tolerant and liberal attitude toward soft drugs, and the introduction of this new product clearly makes a statement,” said Menno Contant, the CEO of E-Njoint B.V., which is manufacturing 10,000 E-Njoints a day. “As long as you don’t bother or disturb other people and stay within the legal boundaries, all is well.”

[IBT]

TIME health

New Push to Raise Tobacco Age in Washington State

The King County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Board says tobacco sales should conform to the same regulations as marijuana and alcohol, barring purchases by anyone under the age of 21. A similar measure in Colorado failed to pass in March

A Washington state group wants the state to keep tobacco out of the hands of those under 21.

The King County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Board, which recommends substance abuse polices, wants the state legislature to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18, KOMO News reports. Adults over 21 are legally able to purchase alcohol and marijuana in the state, and the board thinks tobacco should conform to the same standards.

Board chairman Pat Godfrey said a new minimum age would also prevent teens from picking up the habit in the first place. “Our concern is that nicotine is a very powerful addictive substance,” Godfrey told KOMO News in Seattle. “If we can discourage teens from beginning the habit, that’s a better strategy than trying to get adults to stop the habit after they’ve started.”

A similar measure in Colorado, where marijuana can also be legally purchased by adults 21 and up, failed to pass through committee in March. Several states and localities have been considering and passing legislation that restricts tobacco sales to 18 through 20-year-olds.

Keeping tobacco products away from young people is championed by the same groups who worry the influx of electronic cigarettes will promote the habit. Some research supports the idea that e-cigarettes help smokers quit, though the Food and Drug Administration has yet to confirm its effects.

[KOMO News]

TIME

In Children’s Hands, E-Cigarettes Can Be Deadly

A woman smokes a "Blu" e-cigarette in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25, 2013.
A woman smokes a "Blu" e-cigarette in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25, 2013. Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Poison centers are experiencing a spike in calls concerning children exposed to liquid nicotine, from one call a month in September 2010, to 215 calls a month in February 2014. The new findings are just the latest in increasing skepticism over e-cigarettes' safety

Update: Thursday April 3, 2014 4:00 p.m.

E-cigarettes have been criticized for targeting children, since many brands come in bright colors, and candy and fruit flavors. While some worry about tempting kids with an addictive habit, e-cigs can also be deadly for them.

On Thursday, the CDC released a report indicating a “dramatic” rise in e-cigarette-related calls to U.S. poison centers, from one call a month in September 2010 to 215 calls a month in February 2014. More than half of the calls involved children age five and under, while 42% involved people ages 20 and older. The nicotine in e-cigarette comes in a liquid form, which when ingested can lead to vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation.

“E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof,” said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden in a statement. “Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue.”

The study follows a New York Times report about the dangers that “e-liquids” pose, where small amounts can cause vomiting and larger amounts can lead to seizures and even death. “A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child,” according to the Times.

The new findings are just the latest in increasing skepticism over e-cigarettes’ safety. The support for these cigarette alternatives is manifold: people argue they are are healthier than conventional ones because they don’t contain tar and tobacco, that pushing people towards lower spectrum nicotine carriers is ultimately better, and that they may help people kick their conventional smoking habit.

But evidence against them is mounting. Just last month, a small study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine reported that smoking e-cigs doesn’t help people smoking conventional cigarettes quit. Another study found that young people who smoke e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke regular cigarettes as well. Whether e-cigs are a gateway to the real thing remains unclear.

It’s too early for a definitive conclusion on e-cigarettes’ full spectrum of risks and benefits, but the CDC warns that they may be an emerging public health issue. In response to the study and growing concerns over safety, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg pushed senators at a Congressional budget hearing on Thursday to allow the FDA to establish regulation authority over e-cigarettes, Reuters reports. The FDA’s proposed rule is currently being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

This post was updated with the latest news from the FDA.

TIME public health

Colorado Won’t Raise Legal Age to Buy Cigarettes

Cigarettes
Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / Getty Images

The state narrowly rejected a proposal to raise the legal age from 18 to 21. The move comes as cities and corporations across the U.S. are making cigarettes less accessible—or are being pressured to do so.

On Wednesday, a Colorado House committee voted 7-6 to kill a proposal that would have raised the minimum age for buying cigarettes to 21 across the Rocky Mountain State. The bipartisan bill, which had already passed one committee hurdle, would have made Colorado the first state to set the minimum at the same age for drinking—and, in that state at least, the legal purchase of marijuana. The current legal age for buying cigarettes in Colorado is 18.

There have been similar but less sweeping moves from state and local officials, all intended to curb cigarette use among young people. Four states — Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah — have pushed the minimum to 19. In November, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill raising the minimum for buying smokes in New York City to 21. Some counties in New York have since followed suit, and a dozen smaller towns in Massachusetts had raised the minimum age above 18 by the end of last year, many of them setting the bar at 21.

Debates about the issue often pit health advocates against business owners, who argue that such a ban could hurt their bottom lines and curtail the legal rights of citizens. But with major corporations like CVS pulling cigarettes off their shelves, sacrificing $1.5 billion to be more in step with public opinion, the tide seems to be turning against the capitalistic argument for permitting broad sales. After CVS’s announcement in February, nearly 30 state attorneys general called on five more giant corporations to also stop selling tobacco in stores that have pharmacies.

TIME Cigarettes

Report: 57% of Cigarettes Sold in New York Are Smuggled

Cigarettes
Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Report details the lucrative criminal enterprise of buying cigarettes in low tax states to sell on the black market where taxes are higher

A majority of the cigarettes for sale in New York are illegally smuggled into the state, according to a report out Wednesday from the conservative research group the Tax Foundation.

According to the report, 56.9% of the cigarettes sold in New York—the highest importer of smuggled cigarettes—originated from out of state. Since 2006, cigarette smuggling in the state has risen sharply, by 59%, in tandem with a massive hike in cigarette taxes of 190%. New York state now has the highest cigarette taxes in the country, at $4.35 a pack. Residents of NYC must also pay an extra $1.50 per pack.

Cigarette taxes rose in 30 states and the District of Columbia between 2006 and 2012. Hiking tobacco taxes has been shown to make a dent in smoking rates—in particular among younger smokers—but also creates sometimes sharp state-to-state price differentials that incentivize illegal smuggling.

The state with the highest rate of outbound cigarette smuggling is relatively low tax New Hampshire, which is only a short drive away from New York.

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