Over the past couple of decades, Big Tobacco has come under fire for selling products that kill people. Now, leading cigarette producers like Philip Morris and Reynolds American are moving into the rapidly growing electronic cigarette business, touting the battery-powered nicotine inhalers as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
As Big Tobacco attempts to clean up its image, we thought now was as good a time than ever to remind you of these 12 facts the industry would like you to forget:
1. Smoking-related health conditions are a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly one of every five deaths annually.
2. Every year, tobacco use kills more Americans than HIV, drug and alcohol abuse, suicides, murders and car accidents combined.
3. Secondhand smoke accounts for approximately 50,000 deaths in the United States every year.
4. Cigarette smoke emits nearly 8 billion kilograms of greenhouse gasesannually.
5. Tobacco farming also contributes to deforestation, destroying more than 500,000 acres of forest a year, according to Examiner.com.
6. If tobacco farmers around the globe were to grow food instead, they could feed more than 70 percent of the world’s 28 million malnourished people.
7. In 2012, cigarette companies spent nearly $27 million lobbying government agencies and members of Congress, according toOpenSecrets.org.
8. Big Tobacco companies market covertly to teens, despite publicly stating that youth should not smoke.
9. Each year, the industry spends more than $400 per customer on special promotions, coupons, mailers and other direct marketing efforts to make sure current smokers don’t kick their addictions.
10. Now, companies are pushing expensive and unregulated e-cigarettes. A”starter kit” — which includes an e-cigarette device, batteries, nicotine cartridges and other accessories — can cost upwards of $100.
11. What’s more, e-cigarettes are offered in a variety of flavors that young children and teens could find especially appealing, like cherry, grape, vanilla and strawberry.
12. The health effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown. Medical associations and regulatory bodies are concerned that e-cigarettes are nothing more than a “gateway” to a nicotine addiction.