Smoking Just Got Beautiful…and Harmless


It’s one of those evenings where you surf the internet, where you click through from site to site, from discovery to discovery with seemingly endless websites out there and then you stop in awe, because you are just happy to see people doing great things around the world.

Smoking has lots of negative connotations. Apart from the obvious (negative) health implications, it is much less socially accepted than in the golden days. Now there are great minds out there that see great opportunities, but it’s uncommon that you stumble upon a company that aims to re-invent smoking. “Re-inventing” is somewhat of an oxymoron. It simply doesn’t fit in our minds and seems so wrong especially when it has to do with something that harmful. There are two major reasons why cigarettes (for the sake of simplicity and correlation of worldwide usage let’s leave out pipes, sishas et al.) have been (and still are in some parts of the world) such a tremendously successful product.

1. They are highly addictive

2. They were widely regarded as something “cool” (mostly through the entertainment industy)

Being addicted and killing yourself isn’t something worth striving for – being “cool”, however, is  for a lot of people, especially young ones. Now what if you could eliminate the “health part” of the whole smoking paradigma? Plenty of companies, entrepreneurs and chemists have tried to do so, but largely failed. Part of the reason is that the “cool” part has been neglected. It’s hard to imagine Jon Hamm in Mad Men smoking an electronic cigarette. It’s not authentic, it’s fake, it’s not cool.

Step into PLOOM – a blend of Nespresso and Cigarettes:

Ploom began as a conversation between a smoker and a non-smoker outside a studio at Stanford’s Joint Program in Design in 2004.

“What do you hate about smoking?” Adam asked.
“What do you love about it?” James responded.

The two had already been collaborating on eccentric thesis explorations but those were quickly dropped to answer the question: What if smoking were reinvented today? The thesis generated support from some of the most well respected thinkers and doers in and around the University. James and Adam founded Ploom in a tiny orange painted room on an apple orchard in Palo Alto, determined to bring a better alternative to people who love (and hate) smoking. Hundreds of prototypes, consumer insights and a business plan later, the two developed a unique startup in the historic Dogpatch area of San Francisco with a handful of the best engineers, advisors, marketing and biotech veterans in the country. The model One and Ploom’s first six flavors are the first glimpse of the future of smoking: a new ritual for a modern society from a new kind of company.

Ploom is a company that takes into account that smoking has been a social habit for thousands of years. It’s always been there, and before modern medicine has stepped in, it also hadn’t been regarded as something bad or unhealthy. The San Francisco based startup doesn’t aim to offer an alternative for the modern nicotine addict, but rather offers a viable, harmless and cool smoking device. Why not smoke if it doesn’t harm your body, doesn’t affect your surrounding and doesn’t make your clothes smell? What if the aspartam in diet coke was more health-threatening than a cigarette?

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The endavour of the two founders Adam and James is an ambitious one, but it’s simply amazing that in the eco-friendly, Toyota Prius® covered Dogpatch area of San Francisco somebody really wants to make smoking cool again. That’s pure “out of the box” and we love it.

Things like this likely come out of something we one day call Tbe Media Lab of Healthcare

Hat tip from Thomas Goetz


  1. Quite a jump to “…and Harmless”. Given the new technology involved in this old product (“cured Virginia tobacco leaves”), no presumptions about the safety or risks involved in “vaporizing” this product’s contents should be advertised. The company’s own FAQ section states, ” Is Ploom “safe”?        Ploom does not comment on the relative risks of smoking vs. vaporizing. Ploom is not sold or marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes.”


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