“Potentially Safer” Cigarettes

images.jpeg This article from the Times (UK) is interesting. Apparently, BAT is planning to introduce a cigarette that, through various filtering technologies, may cut the risk of cancer and other smoking related diseases up to 90%

There are many problems with producing, marketing and buying “safer” cigarettes. Some were explored in one of my favorite books about American business, Barbarians at the Gate. As the article points out, the BAT folks are nervous. Although “privately” they refer to the cigarette as “risk free” or “low-risk cigarettes”, they are going to be sold as merely “potentially safer”.

But here is the kicker. BAT executives understand they can’t say, out loud, that consumers using their product as it was intended to be used will not get sick. Even safe cigarettes are bad for you, even if somewhat less so than competitive brands. But the “safe” inference is the inference that BAT really would like consumers to make. Without the inference, why would smokers buy a cigarette that likely will be more expensive, or have a harder “draw,” or might even taste terribly. So, BAT is “likely to focus its advertising on the new technology,” and hope that consumers will reach the appropriate conclusion themselves.

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1 Response

  1. Adam says:

    There’s at least two good reasons to buy these:

    1) They’re probably safer than other cigarettes, even if they’re not as safe, as say, driving to work each day.

    2) The people around you may be less impacted by smokeless tobacco. So if one spouce smokes and the other doesn’t, they may be a better, more sustainable compromise.

    There’s another factor, which is that if these are the sorts of smokeless cigarettes that RJR was experimenting with in the 80s, it may be possible to consume them in no-smoking zones, such as office buildings or airplanes. It will depend a lot on the wording of the rules and the nature of the cigarettes.