China Can Breathe Easy With Vitality Air
China is experiencing its worst smog of the year, and Canada’s Vitality Air is cashing in. Beijing’s air is so polluted, breathing it is said to damage the lungs as much as a two-pack-per-day habit, killing approximately 4,000 people each day. But a new Canadian company has found a solution—and an easy way to line its pockets. Vitality Air, based in Alberta, Canada, is selling pure Rocky Mountain air in Febreze-like cans, to suffocating Chinese people, for around $28 a pop. And the demand is high.
The founders, Moses Lam and Troy Paquette, liken their product’s appeal to consumers’ attraction to bottled water. According to their website:
“Just like bottled water, premium air is a growing industry because people are noticing the difference.”
This is a bit of an over statement. Many people—at least in countries with decent municipal water or clean well water—are drawn to bottled water for reasons such as marketing and portability, while people in China are drawn to clean air because it’s not poisonous.
Although Vitality Air is getting a lot of press right now, it isn’t the first company to market over-the-counter oxygen for personal use. Boost Oxygen, founded by Rob Neuner and Renee Minogue in 2007, also sells pure oxygen inhalers. Their product is targeted specifically towards athletes and people with hangovers. (According to their website, one of its many uses is to provide relief from altitude sickness for visitors to the Rocky Mountains—the same place Vitality gets its air! Cosmic.) Their air canisters sell for $14.99 for 22 ounces.
This also isn’t the first time Chinese citizens have been offered a packaged breath of fresh air. Way back in March 2014, the Daily Mail reported that the Chinese government was providing “air stations” for the citizens of its most polluted cities. Each station offered face masks attached to bags of fresh mountain air, sourced from the Laojun Mountains. “Air Stewardesses” would hold the bags aloft so that citizens could breathe in the fresh mountain air.
And, in 2013, Chinese millionaire Chen Guangbiao offered canned air—in pop-top soda-style cans. The first can was free, with each additional can costing $0.88, and all proceeds went to charity.
The big difference here, it seems, is that this is the first solution to come from outside China—and the first time that anyone has attempted to profit from China’s smog crisis. And it probably won’t be the last. Oh, Vitality, why did you have to open that door?