Last Friday when NJOY sent over a sample of its new vapor e-cigarettes, I was thrilled. So were a few other people in the Business Insider office, as colleagues swarmed around me to take grab samples.
Clearly there's a market for cigarette alternatives. And for anyone in this market, including infrequent smokers (me and one colleague) and frequent smokers (two other colleagues), the NJOY Kings are an exciting concept.
But are they any good?
Sadly we found the Kings rather disappointing. They're not bad, but they're not great, and none of us plans to buy another pack.
Let's go over the pros and cons.
Battery life is a huge problem. While each King contains as much nicotine as two packs of cigarettes, the non-rechargeable e-cigarette probably won't last as long as two packs. We saw similar complaints about battery life on e-Cigarette Forum and Ecig Critic.
Said my colleague Kevin Smith: " The battery died in mine on the second day and I definitely didn't smoke two packs worth. I was smoking it a few times when I was in a cab and throughout the night on Friday. I was smoking real cigs too so that's why I wasn't using it that much. Then the second day I go to use it and the light starts blinking."
Other than that, the design is excellent. The plastic case looks great, fits easily in a pocket and is a pleasure to flick open and closed. The King looks and feels a lot like a real cigarette, right down to the charred end that glows when you inhale.
The taste is inoffensive. The vapor, which looks like cigarette smoke, has only a mild tobacco or menthol taste. It won't satisfy some people, but there's a huge benefit in not causing one's hands, car, clothes, and room to smell like cigarettes, which it won't. As such we smoked the Kings in the office (briefly) and Vivian Giang even smoked one in a movie theater before the previews started. "People looked, but no one said anything," she said.
The kick is pretty good. The King delivers plenty of nicotine with each drag.
It's probably healthier than cigarettes, but no one can say for sure, and anyway it's not good for you. Yep, NJOY carefully makes no health claims. In fact, the fine print listed on label contains plenty of terrifying warnings about how nicotine is very toxic by inhalation and may cause birth defects, etc. When I read that I was seriously bummed, as I'd assumed that the product was harmless.
Finally, for whatever reason, it's not as satisfying as a cigarette.
In short, it's a mixed bag. The King is a neat product, but on balance it's not good enough to get most frequent smokers to switch.
" It was neat at first, but seems like a novelty rather than something I'd use on a regular basis," said Max Nisen.
Meanwhile infrequent smokers like me will probably stick to the old fashioned variety for our occasional smoke.
People who are trying to quit smoking may like the King (this is how the product was pitched to us), but they'd be better off using an FDA-approved method for quitting.
As for how it works, the act of inhaling triggers a vaporizing process that releases simulated smoke which is actually a vapor mist that evaporates into the air within a few seconds. The primary cartridge ingredient is propylene glycol, and the secondary ingredients are water, nicotine, and a flavor to replicate the taste of traditional smoking.
NJOY controls 40 percent of the U.S. electronic cigarette market, according to Trefis.
Big tobacco companies are getting into the business too, with Lorillard buying blu ecigs earlier this year, and Reynolds developing its own technology. An analyst from investment bank Jefferies said he had "high hopes for Next Generation Products" from Philip Morris too.
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