London: Scientists have developed a new electronic cigarette which they say can alert users when other e-smokers are nearby.
E-cigarettes, which release a nicotine-laden vapour instead of smoke, vibrate and flash a blue light when they are within 50 feet of another pack.
According to its US-based manufacturer Blu, smokers can meet up with their fellow e-cigarette users and exchange contact details, which are stored electronically inside the packs of cigarettes.
The reusable packs, which also serve as a charger for the cigarettes, will be available in market next month for $80 for five e-cigarettes.
According to the company, the cigarette cartridges last for an average of approximately 250 puffs before they need to be replaced.
The inventors behind the e-cigarettes said the connected packs would be most useful in nightclubs, where people want to strike up conversations and smoke without being forced outside.
"You will meet more people than ever, just because of the wow factor," Jason Healy, founder of Blu, was quoted as saying. "It`s like with any new technology."
They are developing versions of the e-cigarettes that can be connected to smartphones such as iPhones and BlackBerrys, said Healy.
The company, according to him, is also planning to develop an app that monitors how much people smoke and then report back to the user, or their doctor.
However, market analysts seem not to be convinced that there is a demand for cigarettes that communicate with each other.
Charles Golvin of Forrester Research said: "The way that groups of affinity are conferred just by physical proximity makes a bit of sense.
The e-cigarettes are made up of a cartridge that holds the nicotine and a long white tube that heats up the contents of the cartridge so it can be sucked into your mouth as a vapour.
E-cigarettes have become popular with people trying to quit smoking as they avoid bans on smoking in public places because they only release water vapour.
Although there is little research into their health impact, these e-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco.
First Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011, 19:14