Reynolds Calls for Open System Ban

Vaping groups, manufacturers decry company’s “self-serving” comments

By 
Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

Gregory Conley

Gregory Conley

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Included in Reynolds American Inc.’s (RAI) 119-page document commenting on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed deeming regulations was the somewhat surprising request to ban e-vapor products--specifically, the increasingly popular vaporizer “open-system” units.

“We believe FDA should not allow such products to be sold or marketed,” Reynolds spokesperson David Howard told The Winston-Salem Journal. “We believe open-system vapor products create unique public health risks.”

“Our position is really that these open tanks are really not appropriate,” added Reynolds CEO Susan Cameron. “People can put whatever they want to in those tanks, and this is a lot of the public outcry. People are putting a lot of things other than nicotine into these pipes.”

Not surprisingly, advocates and manufacturers of vaporizers and e-liquids have come out against Reynolds’ comments, accusing the company of trying to quash the competition.

“In petitioning the FDA to ban these open-system vapor products, RAI wants to limit consumer choice to those segments where it has developed products, wants to curb growth where its offering is weak, or wants to control the e-cigarette market altogether,” Jan Verleur, CEO of the Miami-based vapor company VMR, said in a press release. “The imposition of such arbitrary limitations on this emerging and exciting technology would not only stifle innovation and restrict consumer choice and, very possibly, drive smokers back to combustible cigarettes.”

“We find the RAI request transparently self-serving, anti-competitive and regressive,” Verleur said.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, described the Big Tobacco company’s call for an open system ban as “an admission by R.J. Reynolds that it simply cannot compete in the current e-cigarette market.”

“Recent market reports show that while sales of open-system e-cigarette products and e-liquid are booming,” he continued, “sales of closed-system cigarette lookalikes--the kind that R.J. Reynolds sells--have stagnated.”

Conley said research shows open-system vapers are far more likely to fully quit smoking than those using closed system, or cig-alike, products--as such, banning tanks and e-liquids could result in a “disaster for public health.”

“R.J. Reynolds’ corporate motto is ‘Transform Tobacco',” he said. “But instead of holding to its core values and transforming itself from a tobacco company into a technology company, R.J. Reynolds would instead prefer the federal government simply ban most of its competitors.”