Thursday, June 6, 2013, saw headlines throughout the tobacco world proclaim that Reynolds American was introducing an e-cigarette that would prove to be a “game-changer” in the burgeoning new industry. Yes, the Reynolds Vuse was entering the market- first in Colorado on July 1- and then slowly and steadily throughout the rest of the nation. Folks inside Reynolds and throughout the tobacco industry were right to herald this announcement as important, given what Reynolds’ entry in the marketplace with the Vuse is likely to mean- but, is it truly a “game changer?”
Videos and slide shows prepared by Reynolds and released concurrent with Thursday’s announcement revealed the Vuse and the various configurations in which it will be made available- a disposable and a unit with rechargeable batteries and replaceable cartridges, e-cigarette options that have been available online and in traditional tobacco retail environments in the US since 2008. So, the Vuse is not really changing that game. The Vuse will be using lithium chemistry to power their vaporizers- not really changing the power game. The Vuse’s vaporization technology will be no different than the thousands of e-cigarettes currently being offered for sale in the US- not really changing the vaporization game. The Vuse will be using a nicotine formulation composed of some combination of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin- not really changing the “e-juice” game. The Vuse will retain the form factor of a traditional tobacco product- not changing the look of the product and not changing the game in that way. The Vuse will have unique digital technology that will monitor the battery power and insure consistent “puffs”- not changing that game since that technology has been available from Chinese manufacturers going back to 2005 and the original Ruyan V-8 three-piece electronic cigarette- in retrospect a truly game-changing product and disruptive technology.
So, how is the game being changed with respect to the product itself? Well, perhaps in the same way that Reynolds has changed the game in the past: in the same way that its Premier and Eclipse cigarettes changed the game; in the same way that its Camel Orbs and Sticks changed the game and in the same way that its Niconovum acquisition in 2009 has resulted in new and innovative smoking alternatives to reach and penetrate the US market. That is to say- not at all. Just saying . . .