The Arizona Republic
Mar. 5, 2008 04:40 PM
There is electronic mail. Electronic books. And now electronic cigarettes?
In the past year, several companies hawking what they call an "e-cigarette" have cropped up, including two based in Scottsdale.
Their approaches to marketing the product, which slightly resembles the real thing but contains different ingredients, vary.
Scottsdale-based Sottera Inc., which sells a product called Njoy, has positioned the battery-powered cigarette as a smoking-cessation tool because it lacks many of the harmful chemicals found in actual tobacco products and does not produce
Crown7, also in Scottsdale, makes the same claims about its electronic smoking device, but is also marketing it as a way to circumvent municipal and state smoking bans.
Crown7 owner Ron MacDonald said because the device does not contain tobacco and produces no secondhand smoke, it is exempt from such bans, including the one that went into effect in Arizona on May 1.
Don Herrington, bureau chief for epidemiology and disease control for the Arizona Department of Health Services, confirmed that is the case.
"If the product is not a tobacco product, then it's outside the purview of the law," he said.
The Crown7 device works by inserting a cartridge that contains water, nicotine, smoke flavoring and propylene glycol into the casing. A rechargeable battery powers an internal vaporizer, which allows a person to "smoke" the device.
While it might provide an avenue for smokers to skirt smoking laws, does it taste like the real thing?
Sort of, according to MacDonald.
"It's almost like a light 'light cigarette,'" he said. "This is lighter than a Marlboro Light."
Walter Hurst, who owns a smoke shop called Tobacco Warehouse in Santa Rosa, Calif., has used the Crown7 device and sold it to customers in his store.
"For a lot of people that are smokers of full-flavor cigarettes and unfiltered cigarettes, they're not going to feel as much of a (rush) right away," Hurst said. "But for a light smoker and ultra-light smoker, they find that the device is exactly the same."
Crown7's cigarette device costs $99. The company also sells a cigar version for $65 and a pipe version for $150. Each comes with two replacement cartridges.
MacDonald said one cartridge is the equivalent to two packs of cigarettes.