Big tobacco, e-cigarettes, and a road to the smoking endgame

J Robert Branston, David Sweanor

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The provision of the extraordinarily deadly product of cigarettes is dominated by a small number of large and incredibly profitable shareholder owned companies that are focussed on cigarettes. The legal duty of their managers to maximise shareholder wealth means that such companies vigorously fight any new public health measures that have the potential to disrupt their massive profit making, and have the resources to do so. Protecting the public health is therefore made a lot more difficult and expensive. We suggest that one way to counter this would be to actively design future tobacco control policies so that tobacco companies face mechanisms and incentives to develop in such a way that they no longer achieve the greatest shareholder value by focusing on cigarettes. A proper tobacco diversification and exit strategy for the shareholders of the profit-seeking tobacco industry would protect the public health by addressing the current addiction to the continuation of the cigarette market. The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes presents a particular opportunity in this regard, and we therefore suggest a possible policy response in order to start discussion in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-18
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Early online date29 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Sustainability
  • E-cigarettes
  • Incentives
  • Regulation
  • Industry Structure
  • Tobacco Endgame
  • Tobacco Industry


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