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Another Right Kary-on

Bloomberg News expresses shock that people have been stockpiling cigarettes, ignoring the role it has played in promoting fear of tobacco harm reduction

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“Negative publicity drives e-cigarette users back to smoking,” writes Bloomberg News’ Tiffany Kary. “Growth of oral products and IQOS hampered by Covid-19”. It is an odd piece that lacks self-awareness, given her previous article attacking the Foundation For A Smoke-free World and her organisation’s history of attacking tobacco harm reduction.

Kary put Altria’s leap in product sales down to “negative publicity around e-cigarettes …  pushing older smokers who had adopted vaping back to cigarettes.”

While Altria have experienced a 14% rise in tobacco product sales their non-combustible business (vaping) “saw impacts from the pandemic across the board”.

At no point does Kary manage to link the negative publicity surrounding vaping to the content that she and Bloomberg News have produced. Last month, she launched a ridiculous and factually flawed attack on a handful of advocacy organisations and added in some hysteria about COVID-19 for good measure.

“The suggestion that vaping and cigarettes can worsen the risks from the new coronavirus has put nicotine purveyors in the spotlight,” wrote Kary, but failed to cite any research substantiating the claim and focussed on drivel from Stanton Glantz.

Constant attacks from Bloomberg-funded sources, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blaming COVID-19 on vaping, Food and Drug Administration industry restrictions, the ban on pod flavours, and changes to the age of purchase have all combined to promote a slump in ecig sales – down by 10.7% for a rolling four week period in April.

The drop in demand for pod systems has mirrored the reported rise in cigarette sales, although some are saying this isn’t a case of stockpiling or “pantry-loading”.

“Consumption could rise as smokers spend more time at home during quarantine, away from restaurants, offices and places with smoking bans. Consumption levels also tend to increase during times of personal stress. Lower gas prices and consumer wages (and/or unemployment benefits) are also key variables for 2020 volumes,” said Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery.

Dow Jones agrees that the rise in tobacco sales is down to vapers being scared back to smoking. It quotes an Altria spokesperson saying: “Older smokers who had switched to e-cigarettes are turning back to traditional cigarettes because of negative news coverage and regulatory crackdowns on vaping.”

The tobacco company blames the changes on recent negative coverage, mainly propagating from Bloomberg, that vaping was linked to the outbreak of EVALI - the lung disease now universally accepted as being caused by illegal cannabis/THC oils containing Vitamin E Acetate.

Will Tiffany Kary and Bloomberg News issue an apology for scaring vapers back to cigarettes? Will they acknowledge they hold a large part of the responsibility for driving smoking rates back up within a section of society that used to be long-term heavy smokers? It appears to be very unlikely.


  • “Despite Pandemic, Stockpiling Boosts Altria’s Cigarette Brands”, Bloomberg – [link]
  • Bunkum From Bloomberg, POTV – [link]
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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