Innovation for a Smoker Near You

03/09/2015 06:10 pm ET | Updated May 09, 2015

There is a movement afoot to innovate with nicotine and tobacco as well as inventing better, smarter products to help you stop smoking. Some of these areas have been a public taboo. Nevertheless, it seems as if innovation has exploded in this space of late with new breakthroughs for the use of tobacco as well as new innovative ways to reduce tobacco cravings.

USA Today reported last week that E-cigarettes are increasingly popular with young people -- 17 percent of high school seniors used e-cigarettes, more than twice as many as used conventional cigarettes. USA Today said teens can easily buy e-cigarettes -- otherwise known as Vape Pens or simply Vapes -- online even though sales to minors are banned in 41 states, a new study shows. They also pointed out that previous studies have found that teens can easily buy conventional cigarettes online as well. About 1 million young people reported buying tobacco online in 2012.

E-cigarettes use a battery to heat liquid nicotine into a vapor that can be inhaled. They don't produce smoke.

The electronic cigarette was invented in the 1960s, but it didn't really take off until a decade ago according to ABC News. Currently, there are more than 250 brands of "e-cigarettes" available in such flavors as watermelon, pink bubble gum and Java, and in more colors than the iPhone 5C.

Technology has a way of progressing at its own speed. Legislation responds to innovation, but it takes time. Take for example the mobile phone sector where it took state governments +20 years to intact anti-texting laws. Although the Food and Drug Administration has proposed regulations for e-cigarettes, including a ban on selling them to minors, it has not finalized these rules. The proposed rule does not ban Internet sales, USA Today pointed out.

In the same article, Harold Farber, a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, says he's not surprised by the study's findings. He notes that e-cigarettes are marketed in ways that appeal to teens, with flavors such as grape, cotton candy and bubble gum. He's concerned that e-cigarettes will addict young people to nicotine, which could lead them to regular tobacco.

A spokesman for the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, an e-cigarette industry group, was quoted in the USA Today article saying its members take the responsibility to protect kids very seriously. "We certainly don't want teenagers to have access to them," says Phil Daman, president of the e-cigarette association.

R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., for example, does not sell e-cigarettes online, spokesman Richard Smith was quoted as saying. "Face-to-face sales allow for greater security against youth access to tobacco products, as clerks can check IDs," Smith says.

Then from the land of IKEA and Volvo comes the tobacco company Swedish Match, which is bringing snus to America reported the New York Times in November. Snus, (pronounced "snoose") is a tiny tea-bag pouch of tobacco that you place into your upper lip. According to the Times, it is the discreet cousin of chewing tobacco that doesn't require spitting. The company is asking American regulators to say that its snus is less harmful than cigarettes.

Sweden hasn't only invented snus, it also was the birthplace of Nicorette, which was developed by a Swedish scientist who worked to stop the smoking of naval crews on Swedish submarines. For those who want to stop smoking, Nicorette has innovated itself from the original gum into many different platforms. Another brand, prescription Chantix says it can help stop smoking.

Some innovations claim that smokers should not be judged. For example a homeopathic brand that reduces tobacco cravings called Aqua-Tine says "We Love Smokers". (Full disclosure, we have been working on this.)

Whether you are for or against these new products or don't know enough about them yet, the reality is that change is coming to a smoker near you. These days, where there is smoke there is fire, and a number of new innovations.