Business Unusual

Is the cigarette about to be extinguished by an electrical version?

(Click here for more from "Bruce Whitfield's The Money Show".)

So humans have been using burning leaves for over 1000 years to deal with a tough day at the office or to enhance a good time.

And amazingly placing the burning leaf in something to make that easier (a cigarette) is almost as old.

Europe got in on the act after long visits to South America with the Turkish being the early adopters.

The Crimean War was the perfect opportunity to entrench the idea among soldiers that tried to kill others with weapons and themselves with cigarettes (the French coined the term). Those that survived took the habit back to their home countries.

Comedian Bob Newhart imagines how the English learnt about cigarettes.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years and even addicts have to acknowledge that smoking cigarettes is bad for you.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 5 million people die annually as a direct consequence. One in seven people on the planet smoke and half of them are destined to end their life as a consequence of it.

Even so, it is still a R8 trillion industry.

The principal danger in cigarettes is not the active ingredient nicotine, but the various additives to ensure the nicotine containing tobacco leaves burn evenly.

So the solution would be to turn the nicotine into a vapor by some other means - say electrically.

In 2004 a device using a heating coil to turn nicotine oil into a vapour was introduced.

Vaping, as is it often referred to, is now a recognised word. Google’s Ngram viewer which indexes the presence of words in English since 1800 lists “cigarette” first appearing in 1859 and peaking in 2003, one year before the personal vaporiser hit the shelves.

Even so, they did not become a thing in SA until a few years ago. Now, you would be surprised to find someone over 40 that has not quit or switched to the little metal tube.

The "genius" that conceived the e-cigarette is Hon Lik who created it in 2003.

The idea though can be credited to the creators of Robo-Hunter in the comic 2000AD. They created an electronic cigar called Carlos Sanchez Robo Stogie in 1978! The idea was that the robotic cigar with plenty of attitude and a Mexican accent would slowly reduce the nicotine intake of its owner. In reality, that part remains to be developed.

Besides older smokers switching as a way to kick the habit, the nifty gadgets have been compelling accessories for millennials wanting to experience the buzz but not the hazard (not that there are not risks).

The new industry has grown from effectively zero to R35 billion in seven years.

That has lead the tobacco industry to have a Kodak moment. No, not a selfie moment, but the chance to review what their real business is and if they will try beat the new kid on the block or buy it. They chose to buy it.

It might be a great idea as the younger users are not only keen but, like most “new” industries, the regulators are scrambling to keep up and that regulation vacuum is rapidly filling with vapor.

The footnote is that while the electronic cigarette popularity has been fueled by tobacco, the recent legalising of marijuana in the US has seen hash oil become a very popular alternative for vaporizers.

Smokers might be dying but it appears the market for smoking thanks to these new devices is set to grow.

Subscribe to our Business Wrap Newsletter


Read More
How a South African put Amazon in the cloud

How a South African put Amazon in the cloud

You may not know Chris Pinkham, but you use the services he helped create every day.

Things we invented in 2017

Things we invented in 2017

No, this is not about Bell Pottinger or Donald Trump, but actual innovations that will affect us in the future.

Drones are really taking off, here are 7 things you thought you knew about them.

Drones are really taking off, here are 7 things you thought you knew about them.

You are either planning to buy one or willing to destroy the next one that comes near you. Love or hate them, the drones are coming.

How camera maker GoPro became a hero

How camera maker GoPro became a hero

What started as a desire to get a good, cheap picture while surfing has turned into a verb for capturing extreme sport action .

Google working on immortality (and a host of other weird and wonderful projects)

Google working on immortality (and a host of other weird and wonderful projects)

In the last 24 hours you probably used services created by Google more often than you realise and there are more coming.

How ride-sharing companies such as Uber are changing transport forever

How ride-sharing companies such as Uber are changing transport forever

Tech such as GPS navigation on smartphones have made possible the creation of companies that are revolutionising transportation.

Popular articles
Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Ndlozi explains the significance of the the first chapter of his thesis: 'Trauma in the archives'.

German prosecutors probing Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste (for accounting fraud)

German prosecutors probing Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste (for accounting fraud)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Steinhoff International Chairperson Christo Wiese.

So what exactly is radical economic transformation?

So what exactly is radical economic transformation?

Wits associate professor of economics Christopher Malikane speaks to Azania Mosaka about the term that is being bandied about.

Is it normal to have a curved penis? Dr Shingai explains

Is it normal to have a curved penis? Dr Shingai explains

Urologist Dr Shingai Mutambirwa says penile curvature is only a concern if it impedes a man's ability to have penetrative sex.

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

The EFF lawyer stole the show during the state capture report court battle.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?