What I’m thinking about today:

1.You are now free to make cell phone calls in the cabin.
2.Tony Soprano worthy of a half-mast.
3.E-cigarettes are a $1B craze.
4.Twinkies!

1. FAA to allow use of electronic devices. The FAA is expected to recommend lifting the ban on electronic devices – a ban that has been in place for 50 years.

Today’s devices have less emissions than in the past and will not interfere with the planes’ navigation equipment. There will be some older planes where the current restrictions will still be in effect but it’s likely the FAA will set standards that new planes be able to handle most if not all electronic devices by 2015.

Maybe I’m in the minority but I’m not thrilled about this. A few reasons why:

  • There is something about getting on a plane and unplugging that is peaceful. You can’t answer emails because, well, you can’t answer emails. You’re unreachable for a few hours and can put your nose in a book, watch a movie, talk to the person you’re traveling with, etc.
  • The thought of people making calls on their cell phones – in the air – unnerves me a bit. All those people talking, texting…a plane has some nice white noise but now that will be drowned out by the noise pollutions from people talking on their phones.
  • Do we really need this? We were already allowed to use electronic devices after we were cleared. But now we will be able to use them from gate to gate. I don’t know, just seems a little over the top. I mean, I know you have to clear all that jelly but I think we can tolerate a few minutes of ‘off’ time.

2. Half-mast might be half-baked. Gov. Chris Christie has issued a directive that flags be flown at half mast in New Jersey in memory of James Gandolfini. Now, I’m as big a Sopranos fan as anyone but man, does this seem a little off to me. I’ve always associated flags at half mast with some terrible national event or to remember the lives of those who have protected or serviced our country. Not an iconic actor who died from a heart attack.

I heard this reported on the news this morning. And I thought to myself – that’s weird, can Gov. Christie even do that? And since the news is reported in 20 second sound bytes today and they didn’t back it up with any additional reporting, I took to the Internet. Technically, a governor can not declare that a flag be flown at half mast for anyone other than a government official or member of the armed forces from that state. However, Gov. Christie has done this before, back in 2012 for Whitney Houston and in 2011 for Clarence Clemmons, both New Jersey natives. How was he able to do this then and now for Gandolfini? By executive order (here is the one he issued for Houston…where he cites seven number ones as a reason).

Gov. Christie has made a career out of not really caring what people think but he’s playing with fire when it comes to the flag. No, really he is – just see how the father of a fallen U.S. soldier reacted to the Houston tribute.

3. Meet the newest $1B industry. Cigarettes. No, not the old kind. The new kind – e–cigarettes. The industry is blowing up. There are new players entering the market this year and it’s gaining in popularity. I’m very interested in this from a marketing standpoint. I’ve never seen cigarettes advertised on TV and rarely in print. But now, with the e-cigarettes I see and hear the ads all over the place. In addition, over the past 15 years we’ve seen smoking banned pretty much everywhere but now you are seeing people lighting up the blue tips in bars and restaurants. Will there be any regulations? France has banned them. Several U.S. Cities are. Minors can’t buy them. And the FDA wants to regulate them as medicine.

Why? If it’s water vapor why are they being regulated already? The business accounts for 1% of the ‘cigarette’ market at $1B but that’s expected to grow to $10B by 2017 so I guess the government has to do something about it now to get out ahead of it. And then there’s the argument for why even promote a habit that so many people are trying to kick already? If you don’t smoke why try this at all?

I find the whole thing very interesting and something to definitely keep an eye on. (NOTE: I have a friend with a vested interest in this busiess – Smoking Vapors, which is where the photo comes from. It’s been interesting to learn and watch this unfold. You can follow them on facebook.)

4. Twinkies are back! The newer, leaner Hostess (the company, not the Twinkies) will be back on shelves around the middle of July. And they are playing up their return with special packaging that touts the line ‘The sweetest comeback in the history of ever’. If you’re one of those folks who snagged the last few boxes last year, don’t worry – I’m sure they’re still good. For the rest of us – it’s a second chance. A second chance at yellow crème filled goodness. All is right with the world, once again.