My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Carerras and e-cigarettes - THC Thanks You for Smoking The Next Big Thing

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carerras and e-cigarettes - THC Thanks You for Smoking The Next Big Thing

The Piper he piped on the Hill-Top
(Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese)
Till the cow aid “I die,” and the gooses said,
And the Dog said nothing, but searched for fleas

C.S. Calverley, The Ballad of the Period

Up until August 2010AD, Carrerras Group of Companies, makers of several brands of Cigarettes such as Rothmans and Craven A, were staring an ELE (Extinction Level Event) in the face as chronicled in the article “Carreras preparing for Public smoking ban”, published Friday, August 27, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

This idea of a ban on cigarette smoking in Jamaica is nothing new. It has been in the news since a GTYS (CDC/PAHO Global Youth Tobacco Survey) in 2006AD revealed that:

  1. 82% of Millennials [ages 18 to 28] support a ban on smoking in Public places
  2. 33% of Millennials live with a parent that smokes
  3. Four hundred (400) chemicals are present in cigarette smokes
  4. ETS (Environmental smoke) the scientific name for second-hand smoking, causes lung cancer in those to whom it is exposed
  5. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) risk is increased if the pregnant mother is exposed to ETS
  6. Children who are exposed to ETS have higher levels of a chemical associated with ETS called cotinine than those living in environments where they are not exposed to ETS
For those trying to quit smoking, stop here and read this handy guide: “The Ultimate Quit Smoking Guide”, viewed Saturday January 1 2011 by Lindsworth Deer, Quit Smoking Guide!

Back to my argument!

These statistics was gleaned from the article “Students want smoking ban in Public places”, published Wednesday May 30, 2007 by Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, The Jamaica Gleaner and serve a very interesting starting point for cigarette smoking’s demise – and ironically its saviour!

Jamaica was and still is poised to ban cigarette smoking in Public places by December 2011AD making the many guilty party in New Kingston, the Corporate District of Jamaica look like stray waifs wandering about in car parking lots, puffing away on their lunch breaks to get their Nicotine fix.

But there is logic to the Government of Jamaica actions!

The Government of Jamaica realizes that Remittances are on the rise after a 12% decline in 2009AD, based on the findings of the World Bank study entitled Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011  as stated in the article “Remittances to Caribbean making healthy recovery, World Bank”, published Friday, November 12, 2010 by CMC, The Jamaica Observer.

Thus, the Minister of Finance Audley Shaw, logically reasons, should translate to increased spending power among local Jamaican people, which means they are ripe for taxation as the US economy is on the upswing!

Hence the taxes increases imposed by the Government of Jamaica in the Fourth Quarter of 2010AD in a bid to discourage smokers and raise new taxes as stated in the article “Government of Jamaica eyes sin tax”, published Tuesday November 30, 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner and the article “Tobacco products, alcohol hit with more taxes”, published Wednesday, December 01, 2010 by Alicia Dunkley, The Jamaica Observer seem to not be working.

A logical move to tax cigarettes and alcohol: they are linked to lifestyle diseases such as cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and Heart disease. By taxing them, a so-called Sin Tax, the Government of Jamaica collects tax revenue from what is effectively products that have a negative effect on the members of the State and Society.

Thus curbing its abuse is fulfilling the mandate of the Ministry of Health in its push towards a ban on smoking in public places while widening the Tax Net as per the Matalon Report as stated in the article “Widening of online tax net captures more revenue”, published Tuesday September 14 2010, The Jamaica Observer

But it appears that the Government of Jamaica has made a slight miscalculation as it relates to Jamaican people.

If anything, this Sin Tax is creating more headlines about people smuggling cigarettes and liquor to satisfy the still-addicted craving for Nicotine and Alcohol as stated in the article “Police want help in counterfeit cigarette case”, published June 19 2011, The Jamaica Observer. JA$350,000 dollars worth of counterfeit cigarettes, to be precise as stated in the article “Cops caught with counterfeit cigs”, published June 18 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

How ironic, Alanis Morissette’s Ironic style!

This recent news comes on the heels of Managing Director of Carreras Jamaica, Richard Pandohie prediction of a surge in illegal cigarette trading thanks to the Government of Jamaica 100% increase over a three (3) year period on locally made cigarettes as stated in the article “Taxes burn Carreras”, published May 30 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

The Government of Jamaica has underestimated the resourcefulness of Jamaicans and how they react in adversity, especially as it threatens their one source of joy in a country of hardships. So Jamaicans resort to buying their cigarettes and liquor from SME i.e. bars nightclubs that are owned by Drug Barons or Drug Dons in Jamaica.

Businesses which these Drug Dons use to launder their ill gotten proceeds from crime i.e. money from the sale of narcotics and racketeering, La Cosa Nostra style as stated in the article “Prohibition of Alcohol during the Great Depression”, viewed Sunday December 5 2010, Living history Farm!

This as Drug Barons in Jamaica, thanks to Recession, based on logic and to some extent anecdotal evidence, have seen a drop in revenues coming in from their various illegal activities, mainly revolving around laundering their drug money obtained from the sale of crack, cocaine and Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) and its derivatives through various SME (Small and Medium Enterprises).

Thus they have resorted to illegal activity of selling contraband that has been banned or made more expensive due to the high level of taxation, namely cigarettes and liquor, as it now presents itself as an attractive product with which to launder drug money. It also is attractive to those persons who wish to make some fast cash, such as the three (3) Police Officers in the feature story.

All of these developments are not surprising. This is a classic case of the kind of illegal activity or Black Market activity that takes places during a Recession as stated in the article “Definition of the Black Economy”, viewed Sunday December 5 2010, Business Dictionary.

So is there a way to satisfy both the Government of Jamaica gluttony for taxes and the anti-smoking lobby and Carrerras Group of Companies and its merry band of Cigarette smokers all hopped up on Nicotine and can’t seem to get the monkey of their backs?

Like Senator Barack Obama, President of the United States of America as noted in the article “Doctors Tell Barack Obama to quit smoking”, published Monday 1 March 2010 01.29 GMT by Ewen MacAskill, The UK Guardian?

Seems there is, as like Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, there is quote “Change You Can Believe In”: e-cigarettes.

This should come as no surprise, as with the US boom in Internet usage in the 80’s, and the rise of Broadband Internet in the 90’s and the first decade of the 21st Century, came the adding of the letter “e” to make it hip with the Technology that is set to make even the Traditional Media extinct as stated in my blog article entitled “Traditional News Media vs Broadband Telecoms - GigaOM's Avoiding ELE After Deep Impact”.

So we ended up with email, e-newsletter, e-Learning and the recently revived e-books.

Most of these services have stood the test of time, with e-books getting a boost from the rise in popularity e-Readers such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook as stated in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Piracy and E-books in a Tale of Two Cities”. Especially among women, as my blog article entitled “Women adore the Barnes and Noble Nook Colour – Free e-reader Home Improvement”!

So it is now time for the noble cigarette to get the “e” designation (means “electronic”) and become an e-cigarette and rise above the persecution facing its less civic minded cousin, the Traditional cigarette.

This is not a new product by the way, should you be wondering to yourself, as I remember seeing e-cigarettes as far back as 1998AD, when I was but a student doing Electronics and Telecoms Engineering at the University of Technology (1997 - 2000). And herein lies the saviour for Carrerras Group of Companies.

The e-cigarette is a necessary adaptation by smokers in the United States of America who wish to continue smoking in Public by virtue of the fact that the device does not produce second hand smoke, but pure steam i.e. water vapor to be precise. And there is no associated smell. The smoker, however, is instead smoking refillable cartridges filled with liquid Nicotine.

Thus they get the full effect of a cigarette, like a Nicotine patch, but with the natural smoking action and none of the soot, tar and carcinogens associated with smoking. Long term, it helps them to kick the habit as well, and it is a bit cheaper on the smoker’s pocket long term after the initial purchase of an e-cigarette!

But more importantly, it means earnings for the cigarette barons, who instead of making Traditional cigarettes, can instead utilize a Vacuum Evaporator combine with a suitable organic solvent on the masticated Tobacco leaves to extract the Nicotine as a liquid, which can be further crystallized.

These re-usable cartridges could, in the future, potentially replace packs of cigarettes and be “safely” smoked, with the smoked being assured of a nice dose of Nicotine with puffs of steam to simulate the natural smoking action – and none of the lung cancer effects as well as ETS complaints that would ban Traditional cigars and cigarettes.

It may not have the prestige of the real thing. But what it lacks, it makes up for in cool satisfaction. And customizability, available in any flavour you choose.

But many do not see it that way, as they still see smoking as an addiction to drug Nicotine. So interest groups within the US have come up with arguments in an attempt to ban the e-cigarette, claiming that the water vapor may possess carcinogens anyway as stated in the article “E-smokes gaining steam amid calls for a ban”, published Wednesday, September 08, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

That was September 2010AD! New year 2011AD, same story!

This time the interests groups want further research into the contents of the steam to be absolutely certain it contains no carcinogens that can increase the risk of diseases related to ETS as stated in the article “E-cigs: No smoke, but some areas are banning them”, published Wednesday, June 08, 2011, The Jamaica Observer, before e-cigarettes can be exempt from the ban!

Plus there is a general, unspoken fear that the clandestine nature of e-cigarettes means that they can be smoked by teenagers, being as they produce no smoke or smell that parents can detect in their homes. All the coolness of smoking, including the addiction high but none of the telltale signs!

They wish to ban e-cigarettes just as regular cigarettes, the real problem, have been banned in Public places. But such unfounded concern may be on the money to some extent, as the ban is gaining increased traction.

The may be right. In an analysis piece on the e-cigarette, I postulated an interesting trend that maybe on the rise among Millennials [ages 18 to 28] and Generation X’ers [ages 29 to 45]: the use of e-cigarettes to smoke everything from liquefied Salvia, like Miley Cyrus as stated in my blog article entitled “Salvia, THC and shared Dreaming - Altered States meets Inception” to even Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) as stated in my Geezam Blog article entitled “The Electronic Cigarette – Puff the Magic Dragon”.

And it’s not hard to achieve, as all that an interested Drugs Don, or a smoking enthusiast would need is a Vacuum Evaporator and knowledge of the process of masticating Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) to extract the THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol). Filling cartridges to load into e-cigarettes would be the next challenge, easily overcome, as their should be by now a secondary market for refillable e-cigarette cartridges!

No solution as it relates to smoking cigarettes be they the Traditional or electronic, can ever be accepted by the Public. But locally here in Jamaica, a middle ground can be reached by Carrerras Group of Companies doing research into the contents of the vapor released by the e-cigarettes to clear the air (pun definitely intended!) on its chemical makeup.

Thus Carrerras Group of Companies can ensure the Public that the e-cigarettes contain only water vapor and they contain no carcinogens and can be safely “smoked” in Public places post Cigarette Smoking ban. A study preferably done by an independent body chosen by both the Ministry of Health and the Carrerras Group of Companies, such as the University of the West Indies is the first plan of action to be taken by the pro-Smoking Groups

Carrerras Group of Companies would then commence retooling their factory to make e-cigarettes and design cartridges that cannot be mimicked by unscrupulous Drug Dons, who may try to mimic the design and resell cartridges filled with liquefied THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol), the active ingredient in Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa).

Carrerras Group of Companies, the ball is in your court as to how you wish to survive an ELE of a similar magnitude to that being experienced by Palace Amusement, whose Movie Theatre revenues is also under threat by the ongoing Recession and the decrease spending power of the Public with little disposable income to enjoy themselves.

Thus Palace Amusement has responded by upgrading their Movie Theatres islandwide to 3-D as stated in my blog article entitled “Palace Amusement and the 3D Movies - Lady Gaga's 3D Mui Mui and Dolche & Gabbana

If Carrerras Group of Companies plays their card right, like Palace Amusement, they may be able to pat themselves on the back for surviving an ELE and Thank You for Smoking (2005) e-cigarettes, The Next Big Thing (2001) in Nicotine and THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol) addiction.

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