Sean Parker's New Play: E-Cigarettes

Investors diving into unregulated industry
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2013 2:34 PM CDT
In this Feb. 11, 2012 file photo, Sean Parker, left, and Alexandra Lenas arrive at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala & Salute to Industry Icons with Clive Davis honoring Richard Branson in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, file)
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(Newser) – The e-cigarette marketplace is an almost totally unregulated frontier, and one that's starting to attract serious interest from investors. Perhaps the biggest name so far: Facebook bad boy (and extravagant wedding planner) Sean Parker, who, the Wall Street Journal reports today, has put $10 million into NJOY as part of $75 million in new funding. Big Tobacco isn't missing the boat either; Camel-maker Reynolds announced plans to enter the market last week, and Marlboro-maker Altria should follow suit tomorrow.

E-cigarette sales could double to $1 billion this year—and that's just 1% of the entire cigarette market. "There's a huge opportunity to transition the entire world away from dangerous, carcinogenic, combusting cigarettes," Parker says. Of course, no one's actually sure how safe electronic cigarettes are. The FDA has warned that they might have health risks, but has stayed mum on when or how it might regulate them. It's "the wild wild West" in terms of regulation, the FDA's tobacco czar says; most states haven't even banned sales to minors yet. (Read more e-cigarettes stories.)

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