BOSTON & MINNEAPOLIS -- A variety of initiatives are giving electronic cigarettes a leg up in two major cities.
In Boston, shopkeepers are rushing to sell e-cigarettes, apparently driven by sales pitches from the nation’s third-largest tobacco company, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Lorillard representatives have been offering retailers display samples and suggesting they stock the tobacco-free smokes, the newspaper reported.
The push comes amid a reignited national debate about the safety of electronic cigarettes, following last month’s announcements from the country’s two other big tobacco companies--Altria and Reynolds American--that they, too, will be jumping into the market.
Nikysha Harding, director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, said the city has issued 61 permits to sell the battery-operated devices since March, more than five times the number awarded during the same period last year.
Lorillard did not respond to a request from CSP Daily News for comment by press time.
Meanwhile, e-cigarette stores are sprouting up across Minnesota, marketing products as healthier and cheaper alternatives to smoking cigarettes, according to a report in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.
Four "e-cigarette" stores have emerged in the St. Cloud area in less than two months, the St. Cloud Times reported.
Smokers use these battery-powered devices to inhale a water vapor that is often flavored and usually contains nicotine. The vapor doesn't contain tar or carbon monoxide, and users can smoke the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes for about $1.
The recent $1.60 state tax increase on cigarettes went into effect on July 1, meaning that traditional smokers now pay $2.83 in tax for each pack. The tax only affects the nicotine in e-cigarettes, amounting to a few cents on the dollar.
Analysts predict that e-cigarette sales will approach $2 billion nationally by the end of this year, according to the report, and some say the e-cigarette industry could outpace regular cigarettes in 10 years.