Tobacco retailers and distributors have been regaling me with stories about their interactions with e-cigarette companies and brokers the past three years or so. As a result of these tales, I have put together a top nine list of the biggest lies told by e-cigarette interests to key members of the retail tobacco and smoking alternative supply chain.
1. We have our own patents. (OK- let’s see them- but don’t bother unless they’re US patents!!)
2. We don’t infringe on anybody else’s patents. (OK- let’s see the legal opinion and it better not be an opinion by your wife’s cousin who went to law school somewhere in the Caribbean. But, when all is said and done- only the courts will determine whether or not a product infringes.)
3. We will indemnify you in the case of litigation. (OK- just what does that mean? Will you cover the costs of litigation? Will you cover the cost of a settlement? Will you cover the cost of an adverse judgment? Do you expect to be in business three years from now when all of this legal and regulatory confusion is finally decided, provided it gets a speedy disposition?)
4. Our products are made in the US. (Where in the US? Can I see the factory? Are you making them here or just assembling them? [By the way, just because you get your nicotine from Dow Chemical doesn’t mean it was processed in the US.])
5. We guarantee our product. (What the hell do you guarantee? That it will sell? Do you guarantee its quality or safety, its shelf life? That it doesn’t infringe. That it won’t get banned by the FDA? I can’t get you to replace the defects I have already sent back to you!)
6. Consumers prefer our taste over all other e-cigs. (OK- let’s set up a focus group and prove it.)
7. Our products are FDA approved. (Right, in what parallel universe did some other FDA approve your product and nobody else’s product?)
8. We’re OK with the FDA because we don’t sell flavors. (There is no prohibition against flavors for e-cigs- THEY ARE CURRENTLY NON-REGULATED TOBACCO PRODUCTS! Whether you make and sell flavors today has no relevance as to whether you’re OK with the FDA.)
8. Dragonite/Ruyan- they’re the guys in China with the US patents- called us to tell us that our product does not infringe. (Right- because that’s what they do- Dragonite has its lawyers examine all e-cigs sold in the US, sue those that infringe and call the ones that don’t to assure them that they have nothing to worry about. See earlier comment about a parallel universe.)
9. Our batteries are safe. (No they’re not- not as long as they’re cheap small, powerful lithium batteries in a “disposable” product. Ever replaced your cell phone battery? $50-$60 bucks at the low end and they have been known to blow up. What do you think your $0.60 battery is likely to do under extreme conditions?)
This list is not meant to be an indictment of e-cigarettes, but an indictment of some of the clueless, deceptive folks who import them and then use any means necessary to get them placed at retail. Since first writing this, I have been besieged by e-mails informing me of other lies. So stay tuned for part two sometime in the future.