Reynolds American Inc., one of the three biggest tobacco companies in the United States, has recently unveiled its very own e-cigarette. It’s called the “Vuse” and it’s a disposable, but there’s very little other info available right now.
If you weren’t convinced Big Tobacco was interested in the increasingly lucrative electronic cigarette business, this piece of news will put all your doubts to rest. It all started in April, when tobacco giant Lorillard acquired Blu Cigs, the leading e-cig supplier in America. There had been discussions about Big Tobacco’s interest in this innovative technology that had everyone rattled, but it was this $135 million deal that made it official. Then, in June, Philip Morris announced it was working on a vaporizer which sounded a lot like the Ploom Pax we featured a few months ago. Reynolds American Inc. was the only one of the Big Three that hadn’t made any real announcement concerning its involvement in the e-cigarette industry, but that all ended last month, when Daniel Delen, the company’s chief executive and president, announced R.J. Reynolds will make its presence felt in three new categories, including nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine extract products and e-cigarettes.
“In line with our long-term strategy to transform the tobacco industry and reduce the harm caused by smoking, our companies have been hard at work on developing a pipeline of new smokeless and other product innovation, Delen told the Winston-Salem Journal. “We believe there is significant growth potential in these new product formats, and we believe that our expertise and proprietary technology will give us a competitive edge.” Citing competitive reasons, the Reynolds American CEO didn’t want to give away too many details about the company’s new products, but he made it clear they want a piece of the electronic cigarette industry. Speaking about the niche, Delen said “what we see is very high levels of trial and relatively low levels of conversion.” Apparently, this tells the company there are yet no adequate e-cigarettes on the market, so that’s where a lot of their efforts are focused right now.
The new Reynolds electronic cigarette is called Vuse, and according to a PowerPoint presentation, it’s a “single, ready-to-go digital vapor cigarette with no charging or assembly required.” I’d say that pretty much defines a disposable e-cigarette. Although it hasn’t been officially launched yet, Pat Shehan, owner of a tobacco retail chain says Vuse can be found at his stores, but he’s been asked not to put them on display. Still, he can sell the e-cigs if customers specifically ask for them. So if you’re curious, you can try at your local tobacco shop.
R.J. Reynolds is apparently working on new styles of heated cigarettes like the Eclipse, which the company originally launched in 1996. They contain a carbon tip which, when lit, heats the tobacco, producing vapor. Very little tobacco is burned in the process and the company says they produce no ashes. But, according to the American Cancer Society, heated cigarettes should not be considered safe, as they still contain a high level of carcinogens.
Time will tell if Vuse e-cigarettes will become a major player in the industry, but one thing is for sure, Big Tobacco will definitely become more involved in the game.
Vuse photo credit: DAVID ROLFE/Journal