The Marlboro Man’s About to Go Electronic

Cigarette maker Philip Morris is betting big on e-cigs and launching a line of "Reduced-Risk" products next year. Would you use them?

The Marlboro Man’s About to Go Electronic Photo (cc) by clurichaun

Philip Morris, the company behind Marlboro, says electronic cigarettes are its “greatest growth opportunity.”

It’s probably not wrong. A recent self-reported survey showed e-cigarette usage among teenagers doubled to 6.8 percent from 2011 to 2012. E-cigarettes represent a more than $2 billion global market, Reuters says, with the U.S. alone accounting for a quarter of it. They may even be outselling conventional cigarettes within 10 years.

That’s what led Philip Morris CEO Andre Calantzopoulos to announce a new line of products dubbed “Reduced-Risk,” which he plans to debut in the second half of 2014, according to Reuters. But while many people believe electronic smokes — cigarette-shaped tubes that vaporize a liquid containing nicotine — are healthier than the regular kind, the verdict is still out.

“A big issue is the lack of long-term scientific evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes, prompting critics like the British Medical Association to warn of the dangers of their unregulated use,” Reuters says.

Regulators also haven’t determined whether they are a good way to help people quit, or whether they encourage nicotine addiction, Reuters says. In that survey of teens, more than three quarters of current e-cig users also said they smoke traditional cigarettes, but it’s not entirely clear whether the chicken or the egg came first.

Do you use e-cigarettes? Would you like to see Marlboro offering them? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

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