E-cigarettes could usurp tobacco as the nation's nicotine delivery system of choice, and Scottsdale-based NJoy leads the charge. But how safe is “vaping”?
There are no Marlboro Men lassoing cattle in the “wild west” of North Scottsdale, especially not here in the Kierland Commons corporate offices of NJoy, a Valley-based manufacturer of electronic cigarettes. Instead, there’s curvy custom furniture, cushiony cubicles, and offices framed in full-panel frosted glass walls, inside of which hang dry erase boards filled with formulas and scientific scribbles. The clean, streamlined office design – along with the three 30-inch Apple Studio monitors on his desk – reflects company president and CEO Craig Weiss’ love of the high-tech.
Weiss’ affinity for technology is also reflected in his company’s product. He views electronic cigarettes, which use batteries to heat liquid nicotine and release a vapor, as the wave of a better future. Weiss says NJoy’s company mission is to make tobacco cigarettes obsolete. “Our competitor with the cigarette, their strategy is to light their product on fire. That’s a pretty archaic, primitive concept,” he says. “We’re using integrated circuits and software and biochemistry and power sources and heating elements and all sorts of stuff to bring technology to bear and to deliver something we think is a satisfying alternative to that product.”
NJoy is the largest independent manufacturer of e-cigarettes in the world, with the second-highest market share in the industry (26.5 percent), behind Lorillard-owned Blu (40.6 percent). And business only figures to improve. The global e-cigarette industry’s value topped $2 billion in 2013, and Bloomberg Industries predicts electronic cigarette sales will overtake sales of combustible cigarettes by 2047.
E-cigarettes are seen as a more socially acceptable form of nicotine delivery, and many people use them as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. Companies market their products as trendy and satisfying, using the same advertising avenues once cruised by Big Tobacco. Proponents, including some medical experts, say e-cigarettes are potentially safer than tobacco cigarettes, because they lack the carcinogens produced by combustion. But there’s a bit of an X factor, too – e-cigarettes have only been around for about a decade, so no long-term studies have been done on their effects. They’re not