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Friday, July 1, 2011

Want to quit smoking? Try e-cigarettes

As Johnny Depp puffs away a cigarette during a long train ride in the 2010 movie 'The Tourist', he asks Angelina Jolie, "Does this bother you? It's electronic. LED." He continues to puff and even pushes the cigarette against his wrist to prove that there is no burn.

What Depp was promoting was an e-cigarette, an alternative that claims to help you give up smoking by producing similar simulation as that of an ordinary cigarette.The advantage: There is no tobacco, carbon mono oxide and tar in this cigarette.E-cigarettes have an important additional advantage: Unlike normal cigarettes, they also don't cause passive smoking.

Well, E-cigarettes have now come to India. A Gurgaon-based internet site has recently launched this product named - Joye 510 Atomizer - which works on a nicotine-based fluid which can be refilled.The nicotine fluid is available in various strengths, based on your addiction levels. The fluid emits vapours identical to the usual taste that a daily smoker craves for.Look wise, it is like a normal fountain pen with an ink cartridge.The four main components are: an atomiser, a battery, a LED and a pack of five cartridges containing the liquid. All these components are plugged together to form a complete cigarette.

When a smoker takes a drag, the battery heats up the atomiser and converts the liquid into vapours.
These liquids are also available in various flavours and strengths, so as to satisfy the diversified needs of the regular smokers.However, kicking the smoking habit does not come cheap.Joye 510 Atomiser comes at a steep price - a chargeable e-cigarette is priced in India at Rs 1,650 and the non-rechargeable one would cost Rs 300.And, of course, there is an additional cost of cartridges as well.

The main competitors of e-cigarettes are chewing gums like 'Nicorette' from Johnson and Johnson which cost about Rs 2-3 per gum. But they taste quite different.Ankitt Gaur, the Gurgaon CEO of, the site through which the product is being sold currently, says, "Joye 510 Atomizer is being imported from China.
It can be a very effective tool to quit smoking. A typical smoker can start with the nicotine level as per his regular habit and gradually shift to lighter flavours eventually moving to liquids with zero nicotine content. This actually works like a therapy."The concept is quite new in India but is quite popular in the US and Europe.
There are a number of brands in the e-cigarette market. Green Smoke, Cirrius 3, Blu Cig, Smoke Tip, Safe Cig and Cagarti are some of them.

It is talking to major hospital chains in the country like Fortis Hospitals to promote e-cigarettes. It is also in the process of seeking clearance from the health ministry clearance.Distribution will be done through social networking sites and promotions through high-end social circles like clubs, pubs, discs and corporates.
Apart from these, Gaur is looking at other options like using print advertisements, FM radio, events, sponsorships and tie-ups."We want to position it as a high-end premium lifestyle gadget to promote healthier life among youth. We want to tap that segment of the youth who are in early stages of smoking and want to quit," adds Gaur.

The company has set modest targets initially, around 250-300 cigarettes every month in next three to four months in Delhi and Chennai.But it is aggressively looking out for dealers in metros, major cities and especially, South India which reportedly accounts for the maximum smoking population in the country.
Talks are also on to tie up with multi-brand stores like Croma and Next, among others.
The main challenge for the e-cigarette is the 'Made-in-China tag'. For Indians, it does not inspire great confidence because of quality worries.But Gaur says he would sell only the high end model with a superior quality. He plans to manufacture the cigarettes in India, if he gets the technology.

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