Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Ploom modelTwo, Getting Reacquainted With the Concept of Tobacco Vapor

About a month and a half ago, I was in my hometown of Chicago for a visit. While I was taking a walk around my old neighborhood, I couldn't help but notice the number of tobacco shops and e-cigarette storefronts that had popped up around the area. Out of curiosity and a willingness to give the novel and ever evolving e-cigarette a second try (my first experience with a Propylene Glycol based e-cigarette was not so pleasant), I set out on a hunt for an e-cigarette that might suit my somewhat sensitive palate.

I envisioned puffing away (like in the "old" days) at the nearest hipster coffee house, free from the hassle of being told to get up out of a comfy chair while being forced to abandon my laptop temporarily.

Soon after daydreaming about this reclaimed freedom, I purchased an ego-style vaporizer and ordered some PG-free e-liquid from Johnson Creek (a great company...more about them in a future post). The initial results were better than I had expected, and other than a sometimes dry throat, the VG e-liquid from Johnson Creek proved to be quite flavorful and enjoyable, and more importantly, less harsh on the throat than its PG-based cousin. In an attempt to tackle the dry throat issue, I decided to try a different approach by not inhaling in the exact same way as I would an analog cigarette.

This proved to be a somewhat successful technique. Though it did not eliminate the issue completely, it did help significantly. As a vocalist who sings sometimes for hours at a time, avoiding any harshness is of paramount importance.

With this new-found technique in mind, I decided to give the Ploom vaporizer (I had tried the Model One in the past) another chance, because even though I am quite pleased with my new found love of Johnson Creek Smoke Juice, I still have a deep craving for the taste of actual tobacco. Instead of PG and VG-based e-liquids, The Ploom Model Two is a tobacco vaporizer that heats pods filled with actual tobacco. (note: There is some PG in the pods, but in a much lesser quantity/percentage than that of an e-cig) On the company site, there is a brief definition of their tobacco-filled pods:

Ploom pods are single-serving tobacco capsules used in the Ploom modelTwo. They are filled with the highest quality ingredients including whole leaf tobacco, botanicals and all-natural flavors. Ploom pods are made from anodized, food-grade aluminum. Pods can be recycled.

My first experience with Plooming was with the Ploom Model One. Much like my first experience with the e-cigarette, my initial attempts at Plooming were not successful. The vapor from the tobacco-filled pods was just too harsh for someone who was used to smoking (double) filtered cigarettes. The first inhale brought on enough of an undesirable reaction (ie., big cough) that I decided to return it and get my money back.

That was then; this is now.

About 2 1/2 weeks ago my Ploom Model Two arrived in the mail, along with five "packs" of flavored pods. I was skeptical, but willing to be open-minded. The first thing that I did was to abandon this new-found technique of not inhaling (directly) like a cigarette by well, inhaling it like an ultra-light, double-filtered combustible cigarette. Big mistake! Once again, I coughed and swore to never try it again. It sat there in its box for a few days before I decided to give it one more try. I do like the taste of real tobacco, after all.

This time was going to be different I told myself, and surprisingly, it was.

I dropped in a honey and cognac flavored "Gold" pod into the Ploom, let it heat up, and then took a very slight inhale (a real challenge, but worth getting used to) to counteract the fact that there is little to no resistance in the draw. I held the vapor it in my mouth for a few seconds before inhaling, and proceeded to experience the finest tobacco vapor that I had ever experienced. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. There was another surprising side-effect: no real dry mouth or throat the day after vaping with the Ploom Model Two, even though the pods are not 100% PG-free. My guess is that it has something to do with the balancing effects of vaping actual tobacco.

Apart from the Gold pods that I received in my starter package, there were four other flavors to try. My favorites, from one to five are in this order:

1)  Gold- Hints of Honey and Cognac (yum!)
2)  Jaybird-Smooth Tobacco Flavor (quite tasty)
3)  Potrero- Rich, Full Tobacco Flavor (a bit strong at first, but quite good once past the learning curve on not inhaling too deeply or directly)
4)  Kick Ass Mint- (Powerful and tasty in a good way, even for someone who is unaccustomed to menthol smoking)
5)  Rocket- Hot Cinnamon and Mint (Ditto, as in #4)

The flavor is intense and satisfying, and eh hem....better than an e-cigarette...and pretty close to being as satisfying (or better, albeit in a different way) as an actual cigarette! Now I realize that taste is subjective, and I am no way implying that the Ploom is going to be the "better" alternative to smoking for everyone, only that it may be for some.  I am simply stating my own personal opinion. The more options, the better.

I have only a few complaints:

1) The pods are quite pricey.

2)  The oven gets a bit too hot at times, causing the vapor to be a bit harsh if left on too long. I found that his can be alleviated by heating up the pod via the initial 30 second heat up time, taking a few puffs, then turning the "oven" off, then turning it on again intermittently (ie., as needed to suit your preferences) until the pod loses its flavor.

3)  The battery charge could last longer, but if turned on and off (as mentioned in complaint #2), the life of the battery can be extended in-between charges.

4) It only comes with one USB charger. ( ...a small inconvenience).

Complaints aside, I am coming to find but the Ploom Model Two is a lot closer (than any other cigarette alternative) to what I have been looking for all along. I realized this the other night when I was having some red wine (this is when I tend to crave a smoke the most) and without thinking about it, I reached out for the Ploom instead of a cigarette (or an e-cigarette). Given the three choices in front of me, it felt natural to vape real tobacco, and the added flavors available only add to the overall experience.

There's just something about real tobacco and its associated alkaloids (all of which can now be lowered or raised in order to achieve specific and various targeted effects... a discussion for the future that is already taking place amongst some in the tobacco industry). With the use of real tobacco, there exists a myriad of possibilities in the "smokeless" world. For the first time, I am coming quite close to becoming a "non-smoker" hem...but, not in spirit! Ok, let me rephrase that: A smoker without the tar:-)

I think that they may be unto something here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It causes them to wonder

There appears to be no shortage of brilliant quotes today that protrudeth from the mouths of the noble and pious. This one is in regards to a proposed banning of e-cigarettes (in addition to real cigarettes) in the great outdoors. Never mind the fact that banning smoking in the great outdoors is well, utterly ridiculous, but e-cigarettes too? Whatever reasoning could be used to justify something so preposterous?

This one is a keeper:

The appearance of them causes people to wonder, 'what is it?'" Brede said.
Oh, now we can't have people wondering about things, now can we? They might actually become creative and invent something that saves the lives of millions whilst restoring their social lives to what they used to be before all of this madness began.

Any urge to laugh at what would otherwise appear on the surface to be a comical statement quickly dissipates when one realizes that these words were uttered by the mayor of rather large town.

Rochester council bans smoking, e-cigs outside library - Local

The Anti-Democratic Mindset On Display

This quote from an anti-smoker advocate reveals quite a bit about the mindset that has become embedded in the hearts and minds of many in the pro-ban camp. In actuality, it also reveals the unpopularity of their proposals:
Please do not open this up to the public; leave it the way it is. I ask all of you to not delay this ban. [Smoking] creates a hazard for health and safety,” said Summerfield, who was the only one who spoke in favor of the smoking ban in the open forum.
Damn the public! Damn Democracy! Damn those citizens who don't agree with my proposals!

Nice, huh?

Residents Try To Smoke Out Public Housing Smoking Ban at City Council Meeting | News | The Harvard Crimson

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Partnership Made In Harm Reduction Heaven

There has been a lot of talk about harm reduction in the world of tobacco these days, and for good reason. A once (largely) ignored subject, it is now an idea whose time has come.

There are at least two companies at the forefront of the tobacco revolution: one is a burgeoning harm reduction company that holds the patents and the technology to alter the level of nicotine and other nicotinic alkaloids,  the other is a household name in much of the developed world that carries with its brand a solid reputation for thinking outside of the box and covering all of its grounds when it comes to attempting to reduce the harms associated with tobacco use.

The collaborative effort that is about to take place between these two pacesetters of THR  is sure to benefit millions of smokers worlwide:

British American Tobacco Licenses 22nd Century Group Technology

CLARENCE, N.Y.--()--22nd Century Group, Inc. (OTCQB:XXII) today announced that its subsidiary, 22nd Century Limited, LLC, and British American Tobacco (Investments) Limited, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco plc (LSE:BATS; NYSE MKT: BTI), have signed a worldwide research license agreement (the “Agreement”) granting BAT access to 22nd Century’s patented technology which alters levels of nicotinic alkaloids in tobacco plants.

As I see it, this is a pretty big deal, and not just for the two companies involved. There are so many variables and possibilities that could result from this partnership. From the nascent world of e-cigarettes and tobacco vaporizers to the established market of smokeless tobacco and combustible cigarettes, all of these industries, whether independent or combined in aggregate, stand to benefit from the advances that are likely to take place as a result of this partnership.

The biggest winners of all will be the smokers and vapers of the world whose very lives depend on the very research that is about to take place as a result of this coming together of the minds. The more that they learn,discover, and develop, the more that we will all benefit.