In recent years the biggest tobacco companies in the world have been taking a big beating, with millions of smokers switching to a cheaper and healthier alternative. The emergence of the electronic cigarette has been great news for the health of the nicotine addict, and the health of their wallet too, but bad news for the executives and shareholders of tobacco companies. There are around 9 million ‘vapers’ in the United States and around 2.8 million vapers in the United Kingdom, and somewhere around half of the people who ditch cigarettes for e-liquid refills will never return to smoking.
Welcome Back, Big Tobacco is a Canadian documentary by Fifth Estate which explores how big tobacco is fighting back and seeking to recapture those vapers by releasing their own brands of ecigarette and eliquids so it is them who can continue to supply their nicotine. The filmmakers meet the people setting up vape shops, Canadian legislators who claim to remain sceptical about the benefits of vaping and visit the second biggest company in the world – British American Tobacco (BAT) – to see what they are doing to try and steal back their former customers.
BAT is investing $800 million into developing new nicotine products, but the filmmakers ask “can a tobacco company still be trusted?” For many decades their executives would claim that cigarettes were not unhealthy and did not cause cancer, dispute knowing that this was untrue, why should they be trusted by consumers to do the right thing in the ecigarette market? Or will they be inserting other addicted ingredients to keep you hooked to their brand?