We taste test five brands so you don't have to.
When you puff on an electronic cigarette in public, people will usually ask if you "feel like a pussy smoking that," followed by, "Do they really work?" The answer is yes to both. No, they don't look James Dean cool but they do work, and who really thinks James Dean is cool anymore? He's just a bad actor who died. If you want to quit smoking you can chew nicotine gum and do all that other shit but you're still going to be around smokers and feel left out. You'll see them outside covered in hypnotic billows of smoke as you sulk in the bar, texting, dreaming of the burn from the last few drags of your favourite brand.
Electronic cigarettes address the shortcomings of patches, smokeless tobacco and gum: You can still hang out with smokers. Right now the majority of electronic cigarettes on the market look like real cigarettes complete with red glowing tips, which make them look pretty fucking goofy. The ones that appear the least like cigarettes look cooler, and people will think you're using some experimental drug device or that you paid a lot for it.
The other factor that should please smokers and quitters is that you can use them anywhere. If I owned a bar I'd give them out knowing people would drink more if they could hang out inside and smoke. I've used them on planes, the subway, jury duty and even in a hospital, just to be an asshole. Blow the vapor at the elderly, infants, your boss, a cop, because right now it's "safe" and legal.
Here's some reviews of the brands and models I've tried.
Finiti - Regular Tobacco Flavour
Finiti's disposable cigarette was the first one I saw in an actual chain. I was shocked to see the sleek blue packaging next to the real cigs in Duane Reade and assumed that the FDA had approved the Finiti. Upon inspection, there was no FDA approval, just a warning about birth defects and reproductive harm, which didn't concern me because I hate kids. When I went to the URL printed on the package, I was redirected to the Fin cigarettes site. The retro branding and Eames chair confirmed my fear that it was too late to start an eCig company aimed at Mad Men viewers and hip new parents looking to quit before their newborn Sennen outgrows his AB/CD onesie.
Finiti is disposable so there is no recharging, and the light on the end glows white, which is a nice feature and reminds me of a bottle of Svedka. You can take solid drags unlike the Krave brand, but the taste has a hint of soy to it. I took a few more drags and confirmed it was, in fact, Kikoman that I was tasting.
As a vegetarian I need to cut down on soy, so despite the cool branding and light I'm going to give a thumbs down on the Finiti.
Krave - 300 Tobacco Flavour
At first glance, the Krave cigarette wasn't too impressive with its white cylinder and budget logo, but their website was another story. They have an Inked series with tattoo flash themes, a camo cig and an entire flavoured line including red wine and spiced rum. I gagged for a second thinking how fucking gross it would be to get a puff of spiced rum after drinking actual rum, but I could see someone thinking that's cool. They were trending in the right direction and I could see a chill wave or witch house line launching in a few years.
The low nicotine rate shines through with each puff, and the Krave provided the weakest hits of all the cigarettes I tested. After several puffs I determined that the Krave 300 Tobacco flavour tastes a lot like the milk left in your bowl after a sugary cereal. I was reminded of chugging that milk before getting on a bus to go to school and wanting to throw something at Barb, who drove us. Barb wouldn't let us talk, which probably was illegal, and she had a lot of skin tags that distracted me. Krave sucks.
Eonsmoke - Wrangler Flavour
18 mg nicotine
Eonsmoke is the most branded and recognizable I've seen, as New York delis are plastered with their signage and they offer a million products. Their site claims that the Wrangler Flavor is similar to a Marlboro Red and is "as American as apple pie." Their Old English logo and cowboy boot clip art sets the tone for a puff of the wild west. I was ready for slavery, rodeos, country music and some real good ol' boy shit from the Wrangler.
Much like slavery, rodeos and country music, the Wrangler sucked, it tasted like actual smoke without the cool parts. Just like you were inhaling a factory. It was also the only USB rechargeable electronic cigarette I tried. Having three-quarters of a fake cig sticking out of my MacBook's USB until it's charged and ready is way more embarrassing than sucking on a metal tube in front of a dive bar. The whole setup sucked. They make chocolate and mojito flavour too, which is way too Carrie Bradshaw for me.
Kush - Classic Tobacco Flavour
No nicotine info available
Kush is the sketchiest electronic cigarette I tested. They don't have a website, per their packaging they are made in the "P.R.C.," and they just look bootleg. The company's name is actually a clever acronym which stands for "Keep Us Safe Harmless," which is a nice sentiment but barely a complete thought.
The Kush cigarette provided a strong hit and had a hint of soy, like the Krave mixed with body odour, which wasn't pleasing. I could also hear it working and that scared the shit out of me. The two negative things I've read about electronic cigarettes is that some have antifreeze in them and that one blew up in a dude's mouth, knocking out his teeth and part of his tongue. I took a few hits and didn't want to end up missing my mouth and threw the Kush away. With the taste, threat of danger and typos on the packaging combined, I was over Kush.
Logic - Black Label Tobacco Flavour
The Logic brand has it all figured out. The tip glows blue, the nicotine count is high and the colourways give them a sleek, futuristic look. If cigarettes are a thing of the past, Logic is the closest to the Blade Runner of electronic cigs. Even the dude with the fade and shades smoking it on their site looks cool. He's probably getting blown but they just cropped it out of the frame. I'd hang out with him, but only in Miami.
The Logic gives me the most phlegm the next day as it's probably the worst for my lungs, but it also does the best impression of a cigarette. You'll think you're getting more fucked up when you drink and smoke it, and the taste is similar to a smoky vanilla cupcake. I realise the taste doesn't sound too macho but it works and it's also the longest of the electronic cigs I tried.
Thumbs up, and the best of the bunch.