Snuff hits the streets of Tokyo

April 15th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

Zerostyle mint delivers a nicotine hit without smoke

Zerostyle Mint delivers a nicotine hit without smoke

Snuff, the refined vice of Victorian-era English gentlemen, might be making a comeback in Japan. Next month will see the launch of Zerostyle Mint, what Japan Tobacco calls “a new style snuff tobacco product.”

Why the revival? Well, while it’s still OK to light up in many restaurants and bars, except for designated areas, smoking has been banned from city streets and this month it looks like the health ministry will be finalizing a report recommending smoking bans in the workplace.

Back in January we reported steps Japan Tobacco (JT) were taking to provide smoking refuges for nicotine addicted Japanese, but faced by an ever-dwindling number of smoking spaces, it’s conceivable that smokers might have to turn to Zerostyle Mint in situations when they need a nicotine hit and can’t find anywhere close by to light up.

While JT calls it snuff, the Zerostyle Mint isn’t for sticking up your nose. It’s a device that looks like a stubby black whistle, with a mouthpiece that you are meant to suck on rather than blow through and refillable cartridges that will last from half a day to a whole day, depending on the smoker’s level of dependency. While perhaps not as alluring as the usual smoker’s paraphernalia, refills will be individually wrapped and kept in a pouch.

Zerostyle Mint’s selling point is, of course, that it’s completely smokeless, which will be an added bonus for Japan Tobacco, who often has to thrown in free lighters along with packs of cigarettes to boost sales. But one wonders if JT are really gunning for this product. Seriously. We know “zero” is popular among products for calorie-watchers, but what marketing genius came up with the name Zerostyle?

Sales of Zerostyle Mint will initially be confined to Tokyo only as JT tests the product’s appeal. Similarly, last month JT limited sales of another experimental product to Tokyo. Camel Menthol Mini are stubby little cigarettes and might appeal to people who want an extremely quick ciggie – perhaps suiting the needs of crafty smokers who are trying to outwit the metro patrols, dishing out fines to public smoking offenders.

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