Reynolds American — the second largest U.S. tobacco company and the maker of brands such as Camel, Kool, Winston, Salem, Pall Mall and American Spirit — is test marketing a new disposable e-cigarette called Vuse, according to a report in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Judging from the only picture I was able to find, the Vuse appears to be a run-of-the-mill disposable with Chinese e-liquid, the same as what just about every other e-cigarette company sells. Nevertheless, it’s a big step as it could signify the entry of a second Big Tobacco company into the e-cigarette industry.
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According to the report, the Vuse e-cigarette is still veiled in secrecy; Reynolds isn’t saying what stores are selling it or allowing them to display the product at all. Apparently, to buy the Vuse e-cigarette, customers simply have to know it’s there. The buyers are mostly Reynolds employees.
In Clemmons, N.C., the Vuse can be purchased at 6311 Stadium Drive. It’s also available at 3193 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem.
Daniel Delen, CEO and President of Reynolds, apparently believes that the e-cigarette industry has yet to see a product sufficiently compelling to encourage a significant number of smokers to convert. According to the article, Reynolds is focused on developing such a product.
While there is no information suggesting that the Vuse differs from the Chinese disposable e-cigarettes already available, Reynolds has been the leader among Big Tobacco companies in developing smokeless products for U.S. consumers and could shake up the e-cigarette industry in interesting ways. In recent years, Reynolds has released snus as well as tobacco strips and orbs. They’ve also released a nicotine gum and are test marketing tobacco pellets and pouches under the Viceroy brand name. Clearly, Reynolds is staking the future of the company in large part on smokeless products.
Although customer opinions about some of Reynolds’ smokeless products seem to vary, Reynolds claims to have proprietary technology that will give the company an edge in the e-cigarette industry. If Reynolds managed to develop an e-liquid indistinguishable from a Camel cigarette, for example, the resulting e-cigarette could certainly become a major success among smokers.
On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to know what chemicals would be necessary to accomplish that goal.