tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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In Tokyo, Zero Style Mint Is On Fire

Not so very long ago, Japan was a smokers’ paradise. In the mid-1960s, in fact. That’s when nearly one in two adults smoked,

smokeless cigarettes

In Tokyo, smokers mind their manners, puffing traditional cigarettes outdoors in a dedicated smoking area.

according to data compiled by Japan Tobacco, the world’s third-largest tobacco producer by volume.

It’s a different story in these health-conscious days, of course. In JT’s annual survey last year, just 24.9% of respondents classified themselves as smokers. Of course, Japan being Japan, there’s a twist: unlike many other countries, smoking in bars, cafes and restaurants is perfectly normal, it’s outdoor smoking that’s regulated and restricted to designated “good manners” areas.

The slide in consumption has been a long process, giving JT the chance to try all manner of new products and gimmicks to slow the decline in sales, with only limited success. But just maybe, JT has just come up with a minor miracle. And in doing so, taken itself by surprise.

Behold ‘Zero Style Mint’, the smokeless cigarette. And for a product with ‘Zero Style’ in its name, it’s taking off… in style.

JT’s surprise hit consists of a cigarette-shaped pipe into which a small, snuff-like tobacco cartridge is inserted. The user puffs away to his or her content, nothing is lit, there’s no smoke. But unlike some other countries, like Sweden, Japan has no real snuff tradition, meaning JT had pegged sales expectations fairly modestly.

That’s where the company admits it got it wrong. JT says it sold about 650,000 packs in Tokyo, each containing a tobacco pipe and two cartridges, in just two weeks after the mid-May launch. Zero Style Mint is priced at 300 yen, similar to the pricing of many normal cigarette packs. The sales result was 44% higher than JT’s initial outlook –- and that’s just in the capital, Zero Style Mint has still to be rolled out nationally. Even taking into account simple curiosity about the new product, the showing was surprisingly strong, elevating the product to the 10th-ranked tobacco brand among JT’s lineups in Tokyo in terms of value. JT controls about 65% of the home market and has about 100 tobacco brands.

So why are sales so strong? One possible explanation is that, being smokeless, users are being allowed to ’smoke’ in areas that

Japan anti tobacco campain

Japan Tobacco’s Smokers’ Style poster campaign encourages discreet smoking practices.

have long been off-limits. For example, Japan Airlines, the country’s largest airline by revenue, says Zero Style Mint can be used during its flights, including long-haul. Rail companies equally say that since it creates no smoke, it can be used without restriction in non-smoking cars in the country’s bullet trains. Kanagawa prefecture, the only regional authority in the country to ban smoking in public places, says the product doesn’t break its rules on causing nuisance to others, so it can be used; and corporations and government departments by and large are still scratching their heads to see what they officially make of it.

JT itself sees another possible explanation: rewind to the “good manners” part… JT officials reckon that expressions of respect for others being so important in Japan, as fostered by its own “good manners” poster campaigns, it’s not a matter of a fad for new technology, nor the possibility of ’smoking’ in previously restricted domains that’s the appeal: while hardcore smokers may scoff at its relatively low nicotine content, Zero Style Mint offers those who enjoy a drag but are still slightly embarrassed by their habit the chance to enjoy tobacco without their smoke offending friends, family and neighbors.

Whatever the precise reason, Zero Style Mint’s popularity is such that production hasn’t been able to keep pace with demand and smokers are experiencing short supplies of the product. JT says it’s never run into this kind of issue before, and says it plans to double the monthly production capacity as early as in autumn. The company now expects to sell about 500,000 packs in Tokyo in June, compared with the 170,000 packs it previously forecast. That’s below the wildfire 650,000 packs sold in the second half of May, but JT expects the curiosity factor to wear off to some extent. Then again, JT’s forecasting has been known to be off…

By Hiroyuki Kachi, June 9, 2010

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