My Infatuation With Blu Cigs And How It Died On The Vine
I’ll admit it freely. I used to love Blu Cigs. I still, on occasion, reach for a Blu Cigs battery and cartomizer, lean back in recliner and enjoy a nice, albeit brief, vape with a Classic Tobacco or Pina Colada. Hell, I might even enjoy their Peach Schnapps once and a while.
Why would anyone be so ashamed of something like this that they would berate anyone and everyone that dare choose a cig-a-like as their ‘vape of choice’? Insecurity? Ego? I don’t know, but I do know it happens…every day.
Up until December of last year I liked Blu Cigs more than any other brand. Their Johnson Creek custom created e-Liquids were the best tasting flavors I could find in a prefilled cartomizer. Their Personal Charging Kit was, and remains, the best and the first and only one to have a drop in charger. “Just drop the battery into the case and it starts charging”. I didn’t much care for the “Hey there’s another Blu Cig user around” alert built into the charger pack, and neither did they really since they never did deliver the software they said was “just around the corner”.
Blu Cigs also has great graphics. Their logo, emblazoned on their charger packs and on their cartomizers, as well as a sleek tiny logo on the battery itself is great. And the packaging looks like an Apple iPhone, as does the USB charger and wall adapter. Very impressive. You have to hand to Jason Healy for knowing what people want.
The thing I loved most about Blu Cigs, in addition to the flavors inside their prefilled cartomizers of course, was their battery. The regular sized “premium” battery is such a tiny thing. The Premium 100 battery they came out with the following year was only slightly bigger but still a lot smaller than most cig-a-like batteries. I LOVED their tiny size and glossy black finish. I loved holding a Blu Cig battery. And by the time I tossed nearly all of them all in the trash I had collected 16 batteries and 6 Charging packs. (I have one charger pack and two batteries now)
So what went wrong?
Two things went wrong, and those two things still plague Blu Cigs today, which is why I don’t recommend them for smokers that ask about them. Why they have yet to address these issues a year after being bought out by Lorillard is beyond me. Perhaps they don’t consider them a problem, or perhaps they just don’t care.
The Battery Debacle
Every awesome aspect of a Blu Cig battery disappears the minute you factor in battery failure. Every single battery I bought from Blu Cigs had to be replaced within 2 months, many much earlier. And the reason why I owned so many batteries and charging kits is because the battery life was so short that in order to enjoy a full day of vaping I had to have at least 8 batteries charging all the time.
I initially had no interest in carrying around a large battery with a big fat tank on top, so the idea of a small size and great tasting cartomizers were all I needed to hang in longer than I should have.
Batteries in all cig-a-likes are unregulated batteries. All that means is that once a 3.7v battery comes off the charger it begins to drain and the more you use it the less voltage it puts out. Your ability to take a satisfying drag from the battery diminishes with every drag. And it wasn’t as though I used a Blu Cigs battery until it needed to be recharged, it means that I often popped it back into the charger when it reached a level where the I couldn’t get half the vapor from a drag that I could when it was fully charged. I never used a Blu Cigs battery for more than 30 minutes at a stretch.
The Prefilled Blu Cig Cartomizer
The second reason why I ditched Blu Cigs was the problem with the prefilled cartomizers. When they worked they worked great. But the percentage of cartomizers that arrived DOA got to be ridiculous.
The problem with their cartomizers is so bad that Blu Cigs made a web video describing how to make that DOA cartomizer come to life. Sadly, it worked less than a third of the time. At $2 a pop it can piss you off when you unwrap a new Blu Cigs cartomizer, screw it on a fully charged battery, and nothing happens. My failure rate for DOA cartomizers was around 20%. That’s 1 in 5 cartomizers.
But even if I had a great working cartomizer it didn’t last long. Cartomizers, even the best cartomizers, don’t last but maybe the equivalent of 12 regular cigarettes, but with Blu Cigs it was more than 5 cigarettes worth, at most. (Using the conservative estimate of 8 puffs per traditional cigarette as Tom does). Granted, for a while there Blu Cigs would allow me to return defective cartomizers and they would send out replacements, but after a while you get tired of mailing them back and give up. I used to tell Wendy Bivona, of Premium eCigs in Melbourne FL that I had collected so many defective cartomizers I would feel like a polluter if I threw them all away. So they sat for months in zip-lock bag. They might still be here somewhere because I don’t remember throwing them away.
Why Stick with them at all?
That’s really a good question, and one I think everyone here has asked me, at one point or another. Despite all the problems I had with Blu Cigs, all the other cig-a-likes I had the opportunity to use were worse. They cost too much, they tasted like crap, and they didn’t produce much vapor. And the e-Liquids came from China, which I did not trust. You can forgive a lot when switching to e-cigarettes, but the thing that is hardest to forgive is dropping almost $100 on a starter kit and wind up with lousy tasting e-cigarettes. Most tasted like flavored cardboard, or worse.
For the longest time I had no desire to move up to a larger battery or get involved with carto-tanks, clearomizers and such. I had a staff that wanted to do that, and they did and were extremely happy in doing so. I loved the idea of having a Blu Cigs charger pack on the table next to me with a fully charged battery at the ready and 5 new cartomizers neatly tucked away ready for me when I needed them. Anything else was… unappealing.
The allure of Blu Cigs to many new Vapers and smokers getting ready to make the jump is strong. And with easy access to them (80,000 retail stores carry Blu Cigs), means that millions of smokers who want to switch to an e-cigarette are going to see them at the stores everywhere and plenty of them will choose Blu Cigs because of the same things I fell for; the small size, the sleek look, the cool Apple-like packaging, and when they get home and attach a classic tobacco cartomizer they are going to think to themselves, “Hey, not bad”. And that might even last a couple of weeks.
The truth is most people are going to wind up as unsatisfied with Blu Cigs as I was and they will likely either return to tobacco cigarettes, figuring that if Blu Cigs wasn’t going to do it then none of them will, or they will try again, with yet another store bought e-cigarette. Maybe they will choose an NJOY this time or a Finite or a Fin, or some other poor excuse for an e-cigarette. Not everybody seeks out a VAMO, ZMAX, ProVari or some other large battery e-cigarette. Some people, most people, just want something small and satisfying and right now it takes too long to find the Halo Cigs or 777’s out there.
I wish I could say that the Internet is the best place to look for the right e-cigarette but spending time weeding through affiliate site after affiliate site the chances of that are pretty slim. Then again they might stumble across Spinfuel and read honest reviews by a staff of experienced Vapers, and an editor who isn’t afraid to admit that at one time he was all about Blu Cigs.
UPDATE* As I was finishing up this piece on Blu Cigs I learned that Halo Cigs had released, in limited markets, a single G6 battery, USB charger, and a couple of cartomizers into a inexpensive blister pack. (We will review this kit in the coming days) With any luck Halo could be going toe to toe with Blu Cigs and NJOY, and then once and for all there will finally be a product for smokers and new vapers that will lead to the complete freedom from tobacco cigarettes. Fingers crossed.