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E-cigarettes: the Digital Age embraces smokers
Can e-cigarettes be the future of tobacco in the GCC? Kipp investigates...
January 30, 2012 5:35 by Eva Fernandes
Business interests blocking a tobacco ban—this was the theme behind the excellent Jason Reitman movie ‘Thank you for Smoking’ and also the recently held meeting of the GCC Tobacco Control Committee, apparently.
Most notably, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, the undersecretary for health policy at the Ministry of Health, said the law to enforce a ban has been stalled because: “It is hard for things to run smoothly in this. There are a lot of interests, and there are big companies today and a lot of other things that come into effect. When it came to implementation affected businesses did not all agree. Some said, ‘other countries don’t have this, so why do we have to?'”
Oh boo hoo! Will the GCC ever be tobacco free? Well there is a GCC-wide anti-smoking week, but as The National, very cheekily pointed out even those at the Tobacco Control Committee weren’t aware of it: “”When is this?” asked the Saudi official. “When it comes, I don’t even know.”
(Nope. This is just too easy the comedy practically writes itself with that quote. So we’re letting this one slide but feel free to give your own script.)
Interestingly, the meeting of the Tobacco Control Committee (don’t they sound like a fun lot?) has brought up the much debated conversation around introducing a tobacco tax into tax free UAE. Retailers say that even a 30 percent hike isn’t likely to deter avid smokers. After all, with tobacco prices at a global low (a branded pack of 20 cigarettes going for Dh6), a 30 percent increase would mean a packet would set back a smoker Dh8.
One of the top concerns is the issue of second hand smoke. In this regard, Dubai’s shopping malls, cinemas, offices and colleges have been rather successful in setting up smoking bans, forcing smokers to resort to smoking in tiny cancer-guaranteeing terminals—although, the ban is just catching up in other Emirates. Which is why, Kipp sees a fantastic business opportunity for anyone willing to bring the franchise to the region…the e-cigarette.
Once a bogus tacky invention, the e-cigarette is fast growing as a stylish alternative for those smokers tired of seeing the Blood Red No-Smoking Sign. So far, celebrities like Britney Spears, Jeremy Piven, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, and Catherine Zeta-Jones have been spotted smoking one of these smoke-less red LED e-cigarettes. In fact, even Charlie Sheen is planning on starting his own line of e-cigs, called, wait for it, “NicoSheen”.
As Business Week says “According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans who have smoked an e-cig more than quadrupled, from 0.6 percent of the population in 2009 to 2.7 percent in 2010. That’s more than 8 million people.”
With the problem of second hand smoke safely out of the way, e-cigs can be smoked ANYWHERE! Think about the possibilities-smoking in a movie cinema, smoking in a hospital, in a school, a petrol station, public transport and even around the terminally ill. OK- that last one might be pushing it too far, but you can see what we mean…so go ahead start the first UAE E-Cig brand (just remember to cut Kipp 10 percent).