We’ve all been there before. You’re walking through the mall and notice a man standing at his kiosk, seemingly smoking a cigarette. Initially, you may be a bit shocked. You may need to do a double take to realize he is actually handling an electronic cigarette: a device used to vaporize nicotine for inhalation. The industry has been growing substantially over the past several years through smart advertising, word of mouth, and mostly through example. And this popularity is certainly understandable. For many habitual smokers, the alternative of a smokeless source of nicotine that mimics the process of smoking is quite appealing. By taking smoke, tar, and odour out of the equation; electronic cigarettes provide the advantage of a nicotine fix in potentially any setting possible. Yet, even after learning about the product, it is difficult for many people to feel comfortable with the idea of using it anywhere, anytime. Are we so conditioned by designated smoking sections and non-smoking signs that it is impossible to fully accept e-cig use in public places as non-smoking behaviour? After all, it still looks an awful lot like smoking a cigarette.
While use clearly releases no smoke into the air, many people still find the image of someone puffing on the device in a restaurant, office, airplane or hospital inappropriate. Given the multitude of research and reforms concentrated on regulating public cigarette smoking over the past several decades, one can see why the use of this product in a crowded elevator still seems a bit off. I have felt this myself. Though fully aware of the product characteristics, I did feel notably out of place when first using my smokeless device in the office and restaurants. I have gotten many a curious glance and have been asked to explain myself on several occasions. At the same time, my explanation is almost always met with intrigued and approving responses. The truth is a large volume of people are just unaware the product exists, or lack any real information on how it works. It can be confusing. As the industry continues to grow in popularity, more and more people should begin to understand the product and consider the e-cigarette a favourable, smoke-free option for nicotine use.
Most manufacturers are considering these facts in production. While the initial angle of most companies was to model their product after cigarettes to engage the smoker, time and experience has led designers to incorporate qualities that will differentiate their product aesthetically. For example, some manufacturers have modified the ember-colored LED placed at the end of the device to indicate device activation to other color varieties. Newly shaped and colored shells are continuously being released as well, such as the popular “pen-style.” Nicotine solutions, or “e-juices”, are being released in a plethora of flavours in addition to traditional tobacco and menthol flavours
These efforts aim to present the electronic cigarette as a revolutionary alternative to cigarette smoking – something completely different that squanders concerns of cigarette smoke, tar, and odor; while offering the user a controlled method of inhaling nicotine. It seems the most fruitful marketing tool for this product is through example. The more people seen using the product in a variety of locations, the more widely it will be accepted.