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Oh Brave New World: Electronic cigarette will find other e-cig users nearby

August 26, 2011|By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Hon Lik, inventor of the electronic cigarette, demonstrates the product in his Beijing office in 2009.
Hon Lik, inventor of the electronic cigarette, demonstrates the product… (Barbara Demick / Los Angeles…)

Necessity is the mother of invention? Not always, it seems.  

Next week, the makers of blu Cigs electronic cigarettes are scheduled to release a new charging pack that “will allow customers to find other blu Cig users when they are within 50 feet (when voluntarily activated),” a blu Cig PR rep emailed us.

Not only that, but “soon blu will also integrate its pack with social media platforms and individual profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) so users can indicate their relationship status, network with friends and colleagues, share content and even identify locations that allow e-cigs.”

But, but, but … what about all my music and my e-books?  And when is the e-cig tablet due out?

Cigarette smoking, of course, has a long history of being a social habit. Back in my college days in early-1980s England, it used to be good form to whip out a pack of cigarettes and offer them around to the people you were talking with. It was considered polite and friendly. You should have seen the looks I got when I guilelessly tried that for the first -- and last -- with the healthy, hiking, jogging folks who later became friends in Davis, Calif.

As kids, come to think of it, we made ashtrays for our parents in ceramics class at school with the full encouragement of teachers.  My parents still have a cute one I made for them, in the shape of a cat with a dent in its back for the ash, and little crimps where one could rest a burning cigarette.

Here’s how Jason Healy, founder of blu Cigs, explained the rationale for his company’s social-media-savvy charging pack, in an April article at fastcompany.com:

“More and more smokers are becoming lepers,” Healy says. “We’re not just selling electronic cigarettes–we’re selling freedom.”

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