A puffed-up scare over menthol cigarettes

When it did, the regulator found that legislative zeal was premature, since adding menthol to tobacco in the US does not increase harm from smoking. It was decided that far more evidence would be required before offering conclusions as to menthol s effect on uptake and quit rates.

In fact, while a large majority of African Americans favour menthol cigarettes, they are amongst the demographic which has enjoyed the steepest declines in smoking prevalence. Other prominent menthol users women and adolescents are also far more likely to quit than smoking sub groups for whom menthol is less common. Moreover, the proportion of African American youths who smoke is dramatically less than their white counterparts, despite or perhaps because of the much higher prevalence of menthol smokers.

When an FDA scientist further found that menthol smokers enjoyed a reduced chance of dying of lung cancer across all age ranges, sexes and ethnicity compared to smokers of non menthol products, the FDA dispensed with kneejerk adherence to myth lobbyists and instead committed to an exhaustive evidence based approach which is still ongoing. Menthol has now been exempted from the FDA’s flavouring ban pending this research, mirroring a similar decision in Canada, where Department of Health minister Paul Glover in excluding menthol from their own legislation in 2009 declared menthol flavouring ‘not something youth find attractive’.

Despite all this real life evidence, the EU is stubbornly unmoved. By contrast, it has not followed an evidence based approach and has certainly not been transparent as to what is guiding its proposals. With respect to the scientific debate there has been no opportunity for anyone but the powerful European anti tobacco lobby to comment.

Buried in an impact assessment that details the EU s case (a document notably light on independent evidence) the real driver seems clear. The authors declare that there is an ‘absence of a harmonised approach under the current situation’ which ‘has led to enforcement of national rules becoming more burdensome’. Translated, this means that the EU bureaucrats are disappointed that not one of the 28 member states has ever proposed banning menthol cigarettes, so the determined plan is to usurp sovereign lawmaking and compel each and every one of those countries to do so.

Perhaps the reason that unlike the US, Canada and Brazil evidence has been actively avoided by the EU is that Eurocrats know very well that it makes their ban on menthol appear as na ve as outlawing unicorns.

Amongst EU states, Finland has the largest percentage of menthol smokers at 25 per cent, and Greece has the smallest proportion, at 0.1 per cent. Yet EU statistics show that Finland also enjoys one of the highest quit rates in the EU, while Greece has the highest smoking rate by quite a margin.

Evidence aside, the EU will also be ignoring its own advisers simply by offering up the policy for a vote. Five of the six advisory committees rejected a ban on menthol for a number of valid reasons.

For example, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) declared ‘There is no sufficient evidence that menthol has a bad influence on the smoking behaviour among youngsters’ and recommended menthol ‘should not be classified with the other flavoured tobacco products’.

Faced with an avalanche of reasons not to implement a ban which binds 28 countries without a democratic mandate from their citizens, it is disappointing that MEPs may blindly vote in favour of a measure which is deeply illiberal, not rooted in science, not supported by the EU s expert committees, potentially subverts efforts to reduce smoking prevalence, and is correctly being scrutinised more astutely in other countries.

When policies such as this in direct contravention of every control a free society holds dear are proposed by the EU, we should be very worried, smoker, non smoker or menthol enthusiast alike. For if the ban is approved, around one million British smokers and many times that number elsewhere in the EU will be deprived of their menthols, creating a lucrative new avenue for criminal black marketeers where none had felt the market large enough to cater for previously.

In voting to ban menthol, MEPs may believe that they are striking a blow for public health, yet all the evidence shows that there is nothing to be gained from an illiberal ban which will inconvenience millions of European citizens. Instead, the EU could do no worse than to look at the objective way that the US FDA is scrutinising the effects of menthol cigarettes, rather than rushing into prohibition over fears which are as irrational as worrying about monsters in the wardrobe.

Martin Cullip is a columnist for the Free Society.

Victory electronic cigarettes in michigan acquires vapestick of europe

In mid December, Victory announced that it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire VAPESTICK(R), one of the leading electronic cigarette companies in Europe for $70 million through a combination of cash and stock. The VAPESTICK(R) brand is well known for its superior quality, distinctive styling and iconic brand imagery and has built an excellent distribution platform on which to accelerate the expansion of both the VAPESTICK(R) and Victory brands throughout Western, Central, and Eastern Europe.

UK based VAPESTICK(R) was launched in 2010 by co founders Michael Clapper and Michiel Carmel and achieved unprecedented success in a very short period of time to become one of Europe’s leading brands. The VAPESTICK(R) brand has garnered distribution in major Western European Markets and major UK retailers including Tesco, WH Smith, Costco, Harrods of London, and others. Mr. Clapper will be assuming the expanding role of President International for Victory and Mr. Carmel will be assuming broader operational responsibilities in the European Group.

Michael Clapper has an outstanding record of success in both financial products and FMCG, specializing in multi channel marketing and distribution, start ups, brand building, and e commerce. Michael was voted ‘Business Leader of the Year’ at the British Mortgage Awards, prior to founding VAPESTICK(R), and is now recognized as a voice of the electronic cigarette industry in Europe and is a regular commentator on UK radio and television, and sits on the board of the European Electronic Cigarette Trade Association, ECITA.

Michael Clapper noted, «Everyone at VAPESTICK(R) is delighted to be joining Victory, with its world class management team, powerful financial structure and focused plans to consolidate the global electronic cigarette industry. The ECIG category is highly disruptive and is growing fast at the expense of the $720 billion dollar tobacco category. In taking this step with Victory, we are ensuring that we have first mover advantage and the ability to capitalize on the vast number of opportunities now presenting themselves.»

Brent Willis, Chairman and CEO of Victory Electronic Cigarettes and former CCO at InBev and Division President at The Coca Cola Company commented, «We are excited about the closing of the VAPESTICK(R) acquisition, the first of a number of planned acquisitions worldwide. The addition of the VAPESTICK(R) organization to the team is a welcome addition. They are a very capable group with an outstanding leader in Michael Clapper, and the distribution platform that the team has developed will be an excellent springboard for further growth and expansion across Europe.»

About VAPESTICK(TM)

VAPESTICK(R) is one of Europe’s leading brands of premium electronic cigarettes, founded in 2010 by co founders Michael Clapper and Michiel Carmel. With its distinctive black and chrome style designs and signature blue light tips, VAPESTICK(R) has grown to become one of the most recognized brands in the market and currently sells its products both online and through thousands of retail outlets across UK and Europe, including Tesco, Costco, Harrods and WHSmith. VAPESTICK(R) was recently ranked number one in consistency and product delivery of all leading UK brands in an independent study initiated by the UK’s Department of Health. The business is a founding board member of ECITA (European Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association).

About Victory

Victory Electronic Cigarettes is dedicated to providing a cleaner and healthier alternative to smoking for all, and intends to empower smokers to regain their freedom. Victory is one of the leading companies in this rapidly emerging and fast growing market. Victory offers consumers a full product portfolio that incorporates the highest quality and latest technology, and has been rated as superior in real tobacco taste amongst major brands. Recently public, Victory’s experienced management team is positioned to leverage its differentiated portfolio, distinct go to market approach, and low cost infrastructure to accelerate growth and drive significant value for its shareholders. The Company owns a range of brands for different markets and customers, has applied for patents on breakthrough technology, and operates the website .

Safe Harbor Disclosure

This press release contains forward looking statements reflecting management’s current expectations regarding future results of operations, economic performance, financial condition and achievements of Victory, including statements regarding Victory’s expectation to see continued growth. The forward looking statements are based on the assumption that operating performance and results will continue to materialize consistent with recent trends. Management believes these assumptions to be reasonable but there is no assurance that they will prove to be accurate. Forward looking statements, specifically those concerning future performance are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. These risks and uncertainties include Victory’s reliance on additional financing, as Victory has not achieve profitability risks associated with Victory’s products, including that they may pose a health risk governmental regulations may impact Victory’s business the market or consumers may not accept Victory’s products Victory relies on a single class of products existing or pending patents may affect Victory’s business and other factors disclosed in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Unless required by applicable law, Victory undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward looking statements


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