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Want to feel like a high-roller without the lung cancer? E-Cigar may offer a solution

Walking the show floor on Thursday at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Las Vegas, Nevada, I saw a few nifty gadgets, websites, robots, and accessories which I didn't get to cover during the rush of the show.

I. E-Cigar -- an Afficionado's E-Cigarette?

I already mentioned Bakbone (the ring tablet holder).  Shortly before walking over to Bakbone's stand I encountered an interesting exchange.  A pair of businesspeople were walking purposefully down the aisleway, when they were stopped and questioned by an onlooker.

Turns out he spotted the little device they had in hand -- an electric cigar.

An attendee (right) gets his hands on a e-cigar, courtesy of Cigr8 CEO Linda Xu (center), and a coworker (left).  [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Conceptually the idea is so humorous and appealing that I'm rather shocked that few (if any) have made such a device.  E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes), after all have become tremendously popular smoking cessation devices (although some appear to continue to use them recreationally with little intent to fully quit lady nicotine).

You'd think there'd be a plethora of E-cigars (electronic cigars), particularly since cigars -- the oldest form of tobacco smoke -- were celebrated via candy and toy imitations in classic Americana memorabilia.

But a search on, Inc. (AMZN) shows that E-cigars are rare (I couldn't find any, but I'm sure there's some other ones out there).

Cigr8 closeup
The Cigr8 maduro E-cigar [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

I'm not exactly the target audience as I've rarely smoked in my life (you have to get a hearty helping of spirits in me to convince me of the appeal of cigars or cigarettes). But I must admit, from an outsiders perspective, for E-cigarette shoppers the Cigr8 E-cigar is both entertaining and appealing.

While it's wrapped in plastic, the color is an appealing shade of dark-brown that afficionados will recognize as Maduro (in real cigars the wrapper is a tobacco leaf; Maduro cigars are made in Connecticut, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, and a handful of other locations).  Indeed Cigr8 dubs the device the "Maduro E-Cigar".

The look isn't perfect -- the plastic wrapper is a bit shiny.  And given the influence of the wrapper (which typically comes from large tobacco leaves treated in various ways) on the flavor of the smoke, it's unlikely to perfectly immaculately replicate the experience of the celebratory cigar.  But overall, it looks reasonably realistic, and, according to the eager passerby who was inquiring about the device (who clearly had indulged in a cigar or two), the taste was pretty good too.

Linda Xu (left), CEO of Cigr8 enjoys the enthusiastic response of a passerby turned fan.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

The Cigr8 is currently available for $88.88 USD via direct sale online.

A product site brags that the device's "e-juice" blend packs real tobacco, for a realistic taste.  Writes Cigr8:

The future of electronic cigars as arrived. Experience the ultimate inc cigar flavored vaporization with our Maduro E-Cigar Set. This premium device brings you unparalleled flavor and a realistic experience to your cigar enthusiasm. With a high capacity battery and ultra-large e-juice reservoir, our Maduro E-Cigar will generate up to 2,000 puffs on each refill. Our signature blend of e-juice is made to the highest quality standards using real tobacco. The Maduro E-Cigar comes in a beautiful line box for easy storage and gifting.

Cigr8 is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

II. E-Cigarettes/E-Cigars: Healthy or Not?

An aside: some may question the healt of e-cigarettes.

It's a fair quesiton.  E-cigars, like e-cigarettes, may deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than a smoke, but the jury is still out on their effects on the body and lungs.  Further complicating the issue is that different vaporized chemical mixtures likely may have different health effects.

Inhaling chemicals may not be an ideal thing to do, but it's a whole lot better than the real thing.  Notably electronic smokes lack the tar and some of the other toxic carcinogens, which are produced either from fillers commonly used or by the physical burning process in mass-market cigarettes.

And one must also be cautious in that e-cigarettes are vying with other smoking cessation products (like pills or patches), which carry health and efficacy risks of their own.

The perfect case-study in such bias comes courtesy of an alarming sounding conference study published in Sept. 2012 by the University of Athens in Greece's Prof. Christina Gratiziou.  The study proclaimed that e-cigarettes "raise airway resitance" within minutes of inhalation.

The claim raised eyebrows as some pointed out that any vapor -- even sauna water vapor -- will cause a natural constriction of the airways and an increase in inhalation resistance.  The study did not note this.  Nor did it include comparisons to standard smokes.  And it didn't provide information regarding long term use, or whether the airway restriction last longer than resitance induced by, say, a trip to the sauna.

A top critic of E-cigarettes was found to be sponsored by Pfizer, makers of the rival treatment strategy Chantix. [Image Source: Consumer Affairs]

The puzzling oversights took on a more diabolical tone when it was revealed that Prof. Gratiziou had just seven months earlier published a study funded by Pfizer Inc. (PFE) which examined Chantix, a Pfizer smoking cessation drug.  In that study she praised (or puffed?) Chantix, writing [PDF]:

[Pfizer's] varenicline [tradename: Chantix] is an effective smoking cessation medication.

By contast, at the Sept. 2012 symposium where she presented her tests regarding e-cigarettes, she commented:

The ERS recommends following effective smoking cessation treatment guidelines based on clinical evidence which do not advocate the use of such products.

The only problem?  It turns out Chantix isn't the magical dreambout Prof. Gratiziou presented it as.  After "incidents" Pfizer was forced to add warnings to the drug after caused thousands of incidences of suicide, suicidal ideation, violent episodes, and other psychological issues.  The troubling part is that those warnings -- issued in July 2009 -- were downplayed in the Feb. 2012 study by Prof. Gratiziou.

And Chantix also was tied to heart issues -- something that the Feb. 2012 study didn't even touch upon.

While it's great that the study was published in an open access journal, the biased and incomplete nature of the publication cast a dark tone on the $1,915 USD access fee.  Fortunately serious researchers will know from the journal's rock-bottom 0.847 SJR impact-factor rating to take it with a grain of salt.

A smoker puffs on an E-cigarette. [Image Source: AFP/Getty Images]

Now, e-cigarette blends have been found in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) studies to contain levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), known cancer-causing agents, similar to those found in nicotine gum.  There have also been questions of how much nicotine they really deliver.

Professor Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health said of a similar study published in Dec. 2012 (which also focused on temporary airway constriction without examining the potential for long-term harm):

I find this to be irresponsible advice, because these methods that are 'known to work' actually are quite ineffective, with dismal results in terms of long-term cessation. Advising smokers to stick with the FDA-approved medications is tantamount to advising the overwhelming majority of smokers to continue smoking.

In other words, if you find e-cigars/cigarettes a viable alternative to traditional smokes, you'd be foolish not to go for it, given the lesser (if any) harm.  That is the current prevailing opinion in the medical community. 

Beware bias in science -- as the internet teaches us "haters going to hate".  When the "haters" happen to be paid to hate -- then they're really going to unleash.

Comments     Threshold

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How long will it take
By Ammohunt on 1/13/2014 1:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
Before Everything from heroin to meth is dispensed via an E-Cig?

RE: How long will it take
By superflex on 1/13/2014 3:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
Kinda like your jaded opinion?

RE: How long will it take
By espaghetti on 1/13/2014 9:00:26 PM , Rating: 3
When they become cheaper than needles.
(which they are no where near cheap at the moment)

By drycrust3 on 1/13/2014 11:24:18 AM , Rating: 3
Could Colonel Hannibal Smith from the A-team smoke an e-cigar? Maybe the Colonel would wear a fake leather jacket, use a gun not made in the USA, wear reading glasses when he gets old, he might even give up smoking, but the one thing I cannot see is him holding an e-cigar and fake smoking.

RE: A-team
By Vertigo2000 on 1/13/2014 11:33:20 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know if Hannibal would like or even love an e-cigar. The only thing I know he loves is "when a plan comes together". He'd probably then have the A-team breakdown the cigar and add some firepower to it so they could escape some ludicrous confinement situation. It would eventually lead to BA having to be rendered unconscious so they could partake in some kind of air transportation that Face had procured from some woman and which would eventually need to be flown by Murdoch.

Amazon no-ecig policy
By DNAgent on 1/13/2014 7:55:55 AM , Rating: 4
But a search on, Inc. (AMZN) shows that E-cigars are rare

That might be b/c Amazon's official policy is as follows:
"We have determined that electronic smoking products are inappropriate for sale on our site. This includes electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, e-cigarettes, nicotine nebulizers and refill material for any of these products."

As an ecig user
By espaghetti on 1/13/2014 9:09:37 PM , Rating: 2
I love the debate about the safety of nicotine. Here is my take in case you give a damn...
I've been a smoker since 1985. I quit cold turkey in 2004 and picked it back up in 2008. I accepted a cigar as a gift incidentally. Last year my wife asked me if I would try an ecig.
Is it "safer"? Yes. Is it perfectly harmless? Probably not. Nicotine is a drug. Why do people pick on this drug? Big tobacco lied for a long time about the harm it knew it was doing to people.
Having said that, I've found a way to use it and not offend non-smokers. They aren't cheap and don't hurt you so respectfully piss off.

RE: As an ecig user
By JediJeb on 1/14/2014 12:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
Nicotine itself is no worse than alcohol. It is everything else that comes with it in tobacco that caused the problems. The chemicals responsible for most of the health problems associated with tobacco are also present in things like coal tar and asphalt, namely the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons which are known carcinogens. There are also the Tobacco Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) which are some of the most carcinogenic compounds known which are present in trace levels in tobacco.

Nicotine gets the blame simply because it is the addictive part of tobacco. If tea had been found to contain such harmful compounds then over the years caffeine would have had the same reputation. Nicotine, Caffeine, Ethyl Alcohol, all have similar properties and all have health risks associated with their use, but in Nicotine's case it was the other more dangerous compounds associated with its use that has caused it to be targeted so strongly.

By invidious on 1/13/2014 10:24:46 AM , Rating: 3
For most people the cigar experience is not only about about nicotine delivery the way a cigarette is, I would say it's primarily about enjoyment. I'm not a "smoker" but do smoke a few cigars per year and when I am in the mood for a cigar the last thing I want is a fake electronic experience.

By BillyBatson on 1/13/2014 3:05:36 PM , Rating: 2
E-Cigs or all kinds have lost all their popularity here in the LA area. Everyone has switched to the E-Go twist which is the battery portion and you are able to mount many different style heads on top of it including an e-cig head, a Hookah (Middle Eastern water tobacco pipe) that uses flavored syrups, and even a Marijuana THC head which uses THC concentrates like Wax/Budder/Oil/Honey/Crumble/Royal Jelly etc.
The e-go twist setup works FAR better it has higher quality build, larger capacity battery, a voltage selector at the bottom to fine-tune your smoke or for what you are smoking, many different styles and purposes of heads, easier to clean. Basically this system is better than any of the crappy cheap e-cigs like Blu or Njoy King, except that the tradition model is much smaller. Also not looking like you are smoking a cig is probably the biggest plus it feels and more like you are holding a hookah hose.

A silver lining...
By rountad on 1/13/2014 3:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
One benefit of suicide as a side-effect is that, if successful, it leads to a 100% quit rate.

By e-cigarette on 1/13/2014 11:54:59 PM , Rating: 2
E-cigarettes help me to smoke less. I was a good smoker but now I smoke no more tobacco and I enjoy e-cigarette...And I can smoke everywhere

Just Say NO!
By RSwartzwalder on 1/16/2014 1:35:01 AM , Rating: 2
Please visit and sign this petition to rid us of this new scourge of electronic cigarettes. I don't know about you, but I don't want to breathe or have my children breathe their second hand smoke or vapor or whatever the hell they are calling it. ""

Jury still out
By PorreKaj on 1/13/14, Rating: -1
RE: Jury still out
By TSS on 1/13/14, Rating: 0
RE: Jury still out
By Chaosforce on 1/13/2014 9:31:21 AM , Rating: 2
I can't tell if your point was to bring into the question of the healthiness of E-cigars, or the fact that you dont inhale actual cigars......

RE: Jury still out
By Motoman on 1/13/2014 12:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
or the fact that you dont inhale actual cigars......

...some people do, at least one person that I know personally.

Regardless, if you smoke enough cigars (or use chewing tobacco) I'm not sure that cancer of the mouth is much better than cancer of the lungs.

RE: Jury still out
By Bostlabs on 1/13/2014 11:51:50 AM , Rating: 5
I could not give you a citation for this, but I can tell you that using these devices has enabled me to stop smoking.

I've been smoke free for 8 months so far and have zero urge to pick up the real thing.
I don't cough anymore.
I don't hack up dark brown mucus anymore.
I can do things without being out of breath all the time.
I dont stink of smoke anymore.
My teeth are not stained brown anymore.
I feel 1000 times better not smoking and love my e-cigs.

Chantex was terrible! Really, really disturbing dreams while using it.

RE: Jury still out
By NellyFromMA on 1/13/2014 12:53:06 PM , Rating: 1
It's enabled me to do the same. No sense arguing with opinionated and bias folks, they simply aren't open to reason on ANY given thought that strays from their preconceived notion on ANYTHING.

RE: Jury still out
By Samus on 1/13/2014 1:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
I've heard mixed things about Chantix side effects, but in all cases, every single person I know who has done the program no longer smokes.

My friend JJ summed it up best. The side effects are most likely related to the withdraw, not the Chantix itself, which is simply trying to minimize the withdraw symptoms.

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