I posted the following comment in response to one of the readers here. I’m posting it again because I think everyone here should see it

This article is a hoax. Marlboro is not selling legalized pot (at least, not yet). This is a childish joke, I grant you. What can one expect from the potheads? But the bottom line is it’s fake.

Let me make clear that I am not in favor of marijuana legalization. While marijuana is not itself a hard drug, it DOES lead to impaired driving, perhaps not as strongly as alcohol, but a recent review in the British Medical Journal found people who used marijuana within three hours of driving were nearly twice as likely to cause a crash as a sober driver. It is also in spite of the multitude of vociferous lies put forth on this subject a gateway to harder drugs. I will state that every one of the people I’ve known who screwed their lives up with drugs (and I’m sorry to say I’ve known a number of them) had started out with marijuana. EVERY ONE. Also, pot smoking, like ALL smoking, is carcinogenic. The estimation is that one joint equals about three cigarettes in carcinogenic properties.

Nevertheless, if pot has to be legalized, then I would very much want to see the large tobacco companies like Phillip Morris and others get into the trade. Such companies are well placed to quickly dominate the business and put all the tie dyed “Woodstock Nation” liberal led head shop owners on the unemployment line. Smart hard working conservative corporations including the tobacco companies are much more able to capitalize on an industry. I would never trust loser pot heads to run ANYTHING right.

When big tobacco enter this industry, it will put the Lefties in a huge quandary, because while they love their grass, they HATE the tobacco companies, which they see as the so called “establishment”, and they will never want to support them (If you think I’m wrong, just look at some of the amusing comments on this board!). That’s why for years we’ve been hearing from the liberals about all the ill effects of cigar and cigarette smoking, but very little if anything about the ill effects of pot smoking. We even get some totally absurd claims saying pot actually “cures” cancer!

But that all will change once big tobacco gets into the legal pot trade (and if there is enough money in it, they WILL, as that is the nature of big business). Indeed, I would not at all be surprised to learn that big tobacco has already been secretly pushing to get pot legalized in Colorado and other states. After all, their business has been hit hard over the past decades by the anti smoking crowd. It stands to reason that they will want to seek out new markets.
Once big tobacco gets into the legal marijuana industry, liberals will be screaming to the high heavens that pot, like tobacco, is carcinogenic too, as well as a gateway to other drugs. And they will soon wind up fighting against their own beloved weed that they fought so hard for all these years. The reason for this, I believe, is because it’s not so much marijuana itself that the Lefties love. Rather, it’s the fact that they are doing something against the so called establishment that makes it appealing to them. They get all the satisfaction that an unruly teenager gets when he defies Mommy and Daddy. That’s because the liberal mind at ANY age is stuck in an adolescent mode. The little one has to be defiant, he has to prove his independence. And what better way to do that then to use a drug that the conservative establishment frowns upon? That’s why these people who never grew up fight so hard for things like this which are actually bad for them.

As the saying goes What goes around, comes around. You’ll see what I mean in a few years.

No longer blowing smoke? e-cigarettes could surpass traditional brands, experts say

Nova online

WINSTON SALEM When change has come for tobacco during its nearly two centuries as a star of North Carolina&#x92 s economy, it usually has arrived at a leisurely pace.

Not this time. The crop and products made from it face something that has gutted or transformed many other industries in recent years a disruptive technology.

Electronic cigarettes are winning over smokers so quickly that some analysts predict the battery powered newcomer could come out on top of traditional cigarettes within a decade. That&#x92 s unsettling for the farmers and manufacturers who still make North Carolina the national leader in tobacco production and rivaled only by Virginia in cigarette manufacturing.

E cigarettes heat a liquid, usually containing the highly addictive stimulant nicotine, into a vapor that users inhale. Nicotine for the liquid is extracted from tobacco, but experts think it may take less tobacco to make the &#x93 juice&#x94 than required for an equivalent amount of traditional cigarettes.

That economic threat can also be an opportunity, partly because of the state&#x92 s decades of tobacco expertise and partly because of an odd bit of luck involving a plant called clary sage.

Some think that e cigarettes may even offer a way to slow the gradual slide in tobacco sales for domestic use, a slide that began decades before the advent of e cigarettes.

&#x93 It has been interesting to watch e cigarettes move from almost a novelty to a trend,&#x94 said state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. &#x93 The bad news is, if it results in the decline of demand for traditional tobacco, then we are going to have a new set of problems, but the good news is, yes, we are poised to take advantage of it.&#x94

This may be the key year in North Carolina&#x92 s effort to muscle into that leadership role. One reason is that Big Tobacco is becoming Big Vapor, too Major tobacco companies are moving to get ahead of the potential shift in the market by selling e cigarettes themselves, either by buying companies already in the business or starting their own. And two of the nation&#x92 s three largest tobacco companies are here.

With their deep pockets, intimate knowledge of the market, powerful research and development capacity and massive sales and distribution networks, they are in a position to quickly seize the majority of the market for e cigarettes, said Bonnie Herzog, an analyst with Wells Fargo Securities who follows the e cigarette and tobacco industries.

She and other experts believe that the big companies will market devices that simply work better, which will win over more smokers.

Greensboro based Lorillard, the nation&#x92 s third largest tobacco company, has been perhaps the most aggressive, snapping up an established e cigarette company called Blu in 2012 for $135 million. Lorillard now has nearly half the national market share for e cigarettes.

And the nation&#x92 s second largest tobacco company, Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston Salem, has launched its own e cigarette subsidiary, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. It has developed an e cigarette that, unlike nearly all its rivals, is made in the United States.

Reynolds is planning to launch its Vuse brand nationwide this summer. Its test marketing results suggest the impact will be huge. In July, it started sales in Colorado and quickly gained more than half the market in that state. And RJR Vapor Co. President Stephanie Cordisco said in an interview that a second phase of test marketing that began in Utah in late January is showing similar results.

The largest tobacco company, Richmond, Va. based Altria Group, has test marketed its own e cigarette, MarkTen, in two states and plans to go national in the second quarter of the year. Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris.

Transforming a market

The stakes are huge. Last year, Herzog forecast that by 2023, Reynolds could earn $5.2 billion in revenue from e cigarettes and $3.1 billion from traditional ones. And it, Lorillard and Altria would all see about half their revenue from traditional cigarettes vanish by 2023.

If analysts such as Herzog are right, the tobacco companies have to get involved to protect not just their profits, but perhaps their future, said Blake Brown, a professor of agriculture and resource economics at N.C. State University and an extension economist who specializes in tobacco issues.

&#x93 They can&#x92 t afford not to do this,&#x94 he said. &#x93 If you&#x92 re a tobacco company, you don&#x92 t want to be the next Eastman Kodak. They didn&#x92 t understand that they were in the image business. They thought they were in the film business.&#x94

This shift in history doesn&#x92 t seem lost on Big Tobacco. Lorrillard has a research and development team based in Silicon Valley. And at a Reynolds American media event in June, company President Daan Delen, tieless and in a sports jacket, roamed a stage at Pier 59 in New York, channeling the late Apple founder Steve Jobs as he unveiled Vuse. In interviews, Reynolds executives frequently use words such as &#x93 transformative&#x94 and &#x93 game changing&#x94 for their new venture.

The drop in domestic tobacco consumption, which has come at an annual rate of 3 percent to 4 percent in recent years, had already been eroding cigarette manufacturing for decades. Tobacco manufacturing employment in North Carolina is about a quarter of what it was at its peak half a century ago.

Reynolds now declines to specify where its 5,200 U.S. workers are located, but in 2012 it reported that roughly 2,100 were in the Winston Salem area. Like many other tobacco related companies, it has seen its workforce drop substantially, from about 15,000 tobacco manufacturing workers in 1987 in the Winston Salem area.

The chance to reverse that erosion isn&#x92 t lost on Reynolds executives.

&#x93 One of the things that I communicate to my team is that if we&#x92 re successful, we see jobs happening here,&#x94 Cordisco said. &#x93 We&#x92 re bringing jobs back to this company, and that&#x92 s what&#x92 s exciting.&#x94

She declined to give employment numbers but said that RJR Vapor Co. has created jobs in several states, some within the company, some with suppliers. In Kansas, it makes the cartridges. In its Tobaccoville manufacturing complex near Winston Salem, it does the final packaging.

For now, the number of employees working for e cigarette companies is relatively small because the industry is small, said Herzog, the analyst.

&#x93 Just to put it in perspective, retail sales (of e cigarettes) were $1.8 billion in the U.S. last year, estimated, and that compares to an $85 billion combustible cigarette market,&#x94 she said. &#x93 But I certainly expect that consumption of e cigs will pass consumption of combustible cigarettes in the next 10 years, and as that trajectory continues, absolutely you&#x92 re going to see companies get larger and hire more employees.&#x94

For now, most e cigarette companies, including Lorillard&#x92 s Blu, have their devices made in China, though Blu gets its liquid from a company in Wisconsin.

Herzog believes that it&#x92 s likely others will follow Reynolds&#x92 path and move the manufacturing to the United States, where they can better control quality. Federal regulations, which are widely expected to come soon from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, may include standards that would push more companies to make e cigarettes in the U.S., she said.

The magic of clary sage

The potential upside to e cigarettes also may include farmers.

For much of tobacco&#x92 s history in North Carolina, the state&#x92 s climate and soil were natural advantages that helped them produce a product of high quality and good taste. Farmers could fend off tobacco produced in countries where the labor was cheaper, or the climate so hot year round that two crops were possible.

But one potential competitive advantage North Carolina farmers have for any e cigarette comes from good luck Avoca,
a large botanical extraction company, is located in Bertie County near Edenton, not far from many of the state&#x92 s top tobacco producing counties.

There, it mainly has been extracting a fixative from a type of sage that helps scents last longer in perfumes and things such as laundry products. Farmers are now growing thousands of acres of the purple flowered clary sage in the area.

Last fall, Richmond, Va. based Universal Leaf, the top vendor of leaf tobacco in the world, and Avoca announced a joint venture called AmeriNic that&#x92 s already extracting nicotine from tobacco and is planning to begin commercial sales this year, company leaders said in an emailed response to questions.

The partners believe it to be the only operation in the country that extracts and purifies nicotine, an addictive stimulant in tobacco and a crucial ingredient in most e cigarette &#x93 juice.&#x94

Farmers are watching the venture closely.

&#x93 We think there is an opportunity, and we want to be the ones to fill that need,&#x94 said Graham Boyd, executive vice president of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina.

It&#x92 s unclear how much tobacco e cigarette makers will need and where they will get it. In its response to questions, Universal Leaf declined to say where it plans to get its tobacco for extraction but said that its efforts to breed plants specifically for nicotine production were being done here, at least in part.

&#x93 At this time, we are evaluating various sourcing options,&#x94 the company said. &#x93 Given our long history of purchasing quality tobaccos in North Carolina, we have included farms in the state as part of our R&D effort.&#x94

The need for nicotine

Dr. Loren Fisher, an associate professor of crop science and extension tobacco specialist at NCSU, said one advantage that North Carolina has in trying to reap some benefit from e cigarettes is its centuries of hard won knowledge about breeding and growing tobacco. He thinks it will be relatively easy to develop plants that are efficient little green factories for producing large amounts of nicotine, as opposed to the current goals of taste and the quality of the leaves.

&#x93 I think we know right now what it takes to breed plants that would produce more nicotine,&#x94 he said.

For the short term, growing tobacco for nicotine could turn out to be mainly an additional market, he said, rather than just a way to replace declining sales form the domestic market. That&#x92 s because most of the state&#x92 s tobacco crop is now exported and its foreign customers are feeling less effect from e cigarette competition.

For now, Troxler said, North Carolina&#x92 s tobacco crop seems to have stabilized, mainly because of overseas demand. Chinese demand for tobacco is rising, and last summer China&#x92 s national tobacco company opened an office in Raleigh as a base for its American tobacco buying operations.

But foreign demand may not remain steady, particularly if e cigarettes also start making strong inroads overseas.

The pace of the e cigarette revolution could be affected by the nature of federal regulations that are believed to be in the pipeline. It also could be slowed by factors such as the emergence of other new kinds of tobacco products, or accelerated by something that Big Tobacco is likely to prove good at advances in technology that make e cigarettes even more attractive to smokers, Herzog said.

It also could be slowed if e cigarettes are hit with taxes by governments desperate to make up for lost revenue from the drop in traditional cigarette sales.

Cigarettes are the largest cause of preventable deaths e cigarettes are believed to be significantly safer, but there is little research on their health effects. There is a debate among public health officials about how much to encourage smokers to switch to e cigarettes by doing things like keeping taxes on them low. Some worry that the devices, with available flavors such as custard, berry or apple pie, encourage use by children.

Brown, the NCSU tobacco economist, believes that something will bring big changes to the market, though he says it&#x92 s still too early to say that it will be e cigarettes.

Philip Morris, he noted, recently announced that it&#x92 s investing $680 million in a new Italian plant that would make noncombustible cigarettes, devices in which tobacco is heated just enough to give off inhalants, but not enough to burn.

&#x93 There may not be smoking in five years, but there will be something different, whether it&#x92 s e cigarettes or noncombustibles or something, but it&#x92 s going to be changed dramatically,&#x94 Brown said. &#x93 And to predict how it will change, and how that will affect manufacturing is difficult right now.&#x94

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