His was an electronic cigarette, a look alike that delivers nicotine without combusting tobacco and produces a vapor, not smoke. Mr. Vuleta, 51, who has a sardonic humor, clearly relished recounting this story. He is the chief marketing officer for NJOY, an electronic cigarette company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and it is his job to reframe how everyone, nonsmokers included, view the habit of inhaling from a thin stick and blowing out a visible cloud.

Mr. Vuleta, who told his tale in the office of Craig Weiss, the NJOY chief executive, calls this a process of renormalizing, so that smokers can come back in from the cold. He means that literally allowing people now exiled to the sidewalks back into buildings with e cigarettes. But he also means it metaphorically. Early in the last century, smoking was an accepted alternative for men to chewing tobacco for women, it was daring and transgressive. Then, in midcentury, it became the norm. As the dangers of tobacco and the scandalous behavior of tobacco companies in concealing those dangers became impossible to ignore, smoking took on a new identity societal evil.

Mr. Vuleta and Mr. Weiss want to make vaping, as e cigarette smoking is known in the industry, acceptable. Keith Richards might still be smoking tobacco, but in Mr. Vuleta s vision, that grizzled guitarist s gesture could inspire the audience, en masse, to pull out e cigarettes. The moment Keith Richards does it, he said, everyone else does, too.

Mr. Vuleta s words are more exuberant than the official company line, which is that NJOY doesn t want everyone to smoke e cigarettes but only to convert the 40 million Americans who now smoke tobacco. The customers NJOY attracts, and how it attracts them, are at the center of a new public health debate, not to mention a rush to control the e cigarette business.

At stake is a vaping market that has grown in a few short years to around $1.7 billion in sales in the United States. That is tiny when compared to the nation s $90 billion cigarette market. But one particularly bullish Wall Street analyst projects that consumption of e cigarettes will outstrip regular ones in the next decade.

NJOY was one of the first companies to sell e cigarettes now there are 200 in the United States, most of them small. Just last year, however, Big Tobacco got into the game when Lorillard acquired Blu, an e cigarette brand, and demonstrated its economic power. Within months, relying on Lorillard s decades old distribution channels, Blu displaced NJOY as the market leader.

Mr. Weiss still sees NJOY as having an advantage in building e cigarettes that look, feel and perform like the real thing. It s a different strategy than that of competing products that look like long silver tubes or sleek, blinking fountain pens.

We re trying to do something very challenging change a habit that is not only entrenched but one people are willing to take to their grave, said Mr. Weiss, who is not a smoker but has tried both regular and e cigarettes. To accomplish that, we have to narrow as much as possible the bridge to familiarity. We have to make it easy for smokers to cross it.

To some, though not all, in public health, that vision sounds ill conceived, if not threatening. Among their concerns is that making smoking like behavior O.K. again will undo decades of work demonizing smoking itself. Far from leading to more smoking cessation, they argue, e cigarettes will ultimately revive it, and abet new cases of emphysema, heart disease and lung cancer.

The very thing that could make them effective is also their greatest danger, said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To achieve his ends, Mr. Weiss is building a company of strange bedfellows. He has hired former top tobacco industry executives, but also attracted a former surgeon general, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, who has joined the board. NJOY recently hired away a prominent professor of chemistry and genomics from Princeton to be the company s chief scientist. The company has attracted investment from Sean Parker, the former Facebook president, and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co founder. There has also been a celebrity endorsement from the singer Bruno Mars.

Mr. Weiss sees his company as doing something epic. Not long after he was named its president in June 2010, he asked his psychologist if he might record his regular sessions. It was an unusual request, but he thinks that recording his thoughts might ultimately help him write a book or movie script about how he and the company made the cigarette obsolete.

We re at this incredible inflection point in history, he said, adding that the company has a chance to make the single most beneficial impact on society in this century.

New york state joins nyc in suing fedex for shipping untaxed cigarettes

European cigarettes? – cigarette forum & smokers community

(Reuters) New York state joined New York City in suing package delivery company FedEx Corp for allegedly violating state and federal laws by illegally delivering contraband cigarettes to people’s homes.

The City of New York had sued FedEx last December, accusing the company of creating a “public nuisance” through its partnership with Shinnecock Smoke Shop to ship untaxed cigarettes to homes.

An amended complaint filed on Sunday included the State of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman among the plaintiffs, and sought more than $239 million in damages and penalties.

The New York state alleged that FedEx knowingly shipped nearly 400,000 cartons of unstamped cigarettes to homes in the state, depriving it of $15, $27.50 or $43.50 on each carton in tax revenue.

The New York city had earlier alleged that the company deprived it of excise tax of $15 per carton.

“The claims advanced in the Amended Complaint by the NYAG are substantively identical to the City’s claims in the original Complaint,” Assistant Corporation Counsel Eric Proshansky, who represents the New York City in the case, said in a letter on Sunday.

“Accordingly, the proposed objections to the pleadings raised by FXG (FedEx Ground Package) should still form the basis for discussion at the April 9th pre motion conference.”

FedEx requested the court last week to dismiss or substantially narrow New York City’s complaint.

Schneiderman’s office and FedEx were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

The case is City of New York v. FedEx Ground Package System Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13 09173.

(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore Editing by Joyjeet Das)