Blu Cigs, an e-cigarette brand, just sponsored the first “Great American Butt Clean” on Oct. 22 — but you wouldn’t guess it from the cigarette butt clean-up event’s Facebook page. The page is listed as belonging to a non-profit organization, and there is no other information provided.
It’s only if you read The Charlotte Observer, which promoted the event by one of Charlotte, NC’s, own, or stumbled across Blu Cigs’ press release, that outsiders might have known who was behind it.
“blu makes it a priority to cut down on the waste generated by traditional cigarettes. The rechargeable battery and reusable design of our e-cigs offer a less wasteful option, but it’s only a first step,” commented Jason Healy, President of blu. “As a Charlotte-based company, we’re excited to have this opportunity to go even further by partnering with Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful for this important day of clean-up, that’s sure to be a tradition for many years to come.”
While this was a local marketing event, such dubious feel-good marketing tactics won’t help the e-cigarette cause.
As traditional cigarettes continue to be smushed out of the mainstream by high taxes, scary warning labels, and general cultural finger wagging, former smokers are looking to find other sources for their nicotine fix. But e-cigarettes are about to suffer a blow from the U.S. government similar to one that occurred to its non-electronic brethren in 2000: getting banned from all domestic air travel.
USA Today recently reported that “the government wants to ban electronic cigarettes on airline flights because of concerns about health risks from the vapors.” The vapors, which contain nicotine, are what the battery-operated cigarettes produce for the “smoker” to suck in.
The U.S. Transportation Department has taken the first step toward achieving such a ban by “proposing the ban in a rule”published in the Federal Register, the paper notes. As far as the DoT is concerned, there hasn’t been enough research into what the devices are turning out to allow them onboard.
“Airline passengers have rights, and this rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says, according to the paper.
You will be shocked to learn that the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, which lobbies on behalf of e-cig makers while trying to woo consumers with a “Scared of the E-Cig?” section, thinks the proposed rule isn’t fair. The association’s chief exec, Ray Story, claims that the ban is being pushed by competitors to e-cigarettes, such as tobacco companies.
“Honestly, it’s just insane,” said Story to USA Today. “It clearly shows to me that it’s motivated by whoever is pulling the biggest purse strings: big tobacco, big pharmaceutical.”