Archive for August, 2012

E-Cigarettes–A Game Changer?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

You walk into a crowded bar where half of the patrons are smoking. You spin around quickly heading out of the place lest it be raided by the anti-smoking police only to realize that although there appeared to be smoke in the air there was no scent of tobacco. What’s going on? You return to the bar and ask the blonde at the end what type of crazy cigarette she’s smoking. After giving you the “See what just fell from the turnip truck” look, she tells you that it’s an electronic cigarette that has none of the dangerous tars and chemicals found in ordinary cigarette smoke.

If you’ve never heard of an e-cigarette, don’t despair. Neither had I until I stumbled across an interesting chart that we’ll get to later. For now, suffice it to say that the chart opened up a new product that could be a game-changer not only in the tobacco space but also in the pharmaceutical arena.

The e-cigarette sounds like a new creation but it was invented nearly 50 years in the US with the aim of being used as a nicotine replacement therapy. The product disappeared and it wasn’t until 2000 when a Chinese pharmacist resurrected the concept along with a few technological improvements. Fast forward: The e-cigarette in its current incarnation is being sold worldwide (to countries that allow it).

What is an e-cigarette?
The e-cig (for short) is a device that vaporizes the liquid placed in it for the purpose of being inhaled, much like a vaporizer or a nebulizer. It consists of three essential components: a cartridge that holds the liquid and acts as the mouthpiece, an atomizer that is the heating element that vaporizes the liquid, and the power supply– a battery in portable models.

The liquid can be anything that’s easily vaporized. Currently, the liquid consists of either propylene glycol or glycerin with (or without) the addition of varying amounts of pharmaceutical grade nicotine along with flavoring that includes tobacco, menthol, as well as many others—vanilla, chocolate, and even Boston cream pie!

There are two forms of e-cigs—disposable and reusable. The disposable version comes with something called a cartomizer, a device that takes the place of the cartridge and the atomizer and is the disposable element of the product. Disposable e-cigs are generally much less expensive than their reusable counterparts.

Why is this a desirable device?
The beauty of this device is that there are no dangerous tars or other toxins that can cause many smoking-related diseases, in either the smoker or the second-hand smoker (although there is some dispute over this point). In terms of public and individual health safety, the e-cigarette a pretty much a non-issue. Can you see the possibilities this opens up?

In the US, the e-cigarette is classified by the courts as a tobacco product and is regulated as such. It is not being marketed as a smoking cessation device because the courts struck down the FDA’s claim that it is a medical device. (The FDA’s real motive was to prevent product importation from China.) Even so, it’s not far-fetched to believe that many people could be using the e-cigarette to help them kick the smoking habit.

Regardless, the e-cigarette is making a statement which will, I’m sure, be addressed as soon as the device reaches a certain level of popularity. Certainly, this will affect the bottom line of not only cigarette manufacturers (MO, LO), but also those of big pharma who make nicotine replacement devices like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Of course, all of these threatened companies are huge with giant PAC machines that could possibly crush a start-up that threatens their systems. On the other hand, they could possibly buy out one of them, dissolve it, and then spit out the remains under the company banner with a newly formed health spin. It’s reprehensible, but it seems like the easiest scenario.

The Poster Child
What got me started in the first place (see Introduction) was a chart of a defiant upward trending juggernaut, XRMB, aka MYEZSmokes. I’ve been looking at this chart for a while and everything about it reeks synthetic. It sure appears as if the stock is being artificially buoyed up, especially since there’s no volume to support the rally.  My opinion:  Someone wants this stock to go up and then they’ll sell out.

The MYEZSmoke website doesn’t offer much other than how to order their cigarettes (menthol or regular). Their cartomizer (the disposable form) offers a pack of cigarette puffs being the cost equivalent of less than $2 a pack. NOW I’ve got the attention of you smokers!

According to its press release, the company’s marketing plan is focusing on providing tribal gaming casinos with their product in an effort to reduce second-hand smoke. This is a great strategy (in my opinion) that provides a win-win scenario for those folks who like to smoke while they gamble and for those who can’t or won’t suffer the effects of second-hand smoke.  It’s also a winning situation for the casinos as they’ll be able to attract those gamblers who shy away from places where smoking is allowed.

There are few laws on the books right now regarding where people can light up their e-cigs. Should they be ruled safe in regards to public health and allowed back into public places (especially bars and restaurants),  then I’m sure their popularity will increase significantly.

The goal in writing this article is to educate and alert those interested in game-changers, and I do believe that the smokeless e-cigarette is one of them. There are many manufacturers, most not in this country, that import their products all over the world. Before you take any action, please do your own due diligence. This is a really new field that is full of possibilities.