BEIJING, CHINA-- What do you get for the person who has everything? If they live in China, apparently, a can of fresh air.
Sounds like a joke, right? It's not. China has seen record levels of smog recently, so bad that businesses have had to shut down and children, kept home from school.
A recent study shows the pollution is so dangerous, breathing the air for just an hour can reduce your life by 20 minutes. So people have started buying canned air imported from the Canadian Rocky Mountains at around $15 to $20 a pop.
The creators of Vitality Air started this out as a joke, selling a Ziploc bag of air on eBay. They got 99 cents, but they knew they were on to something when the next bag sold for $168.
"After seeing the pollution in China, India and Dubai, basically the world's most polluted countries, we decided to see if we could market this," Moses Lam, Vitality Air's co-founder explained on CNN. "We shipped a sample order of 500 bottles into China, and they sold out within a week and a half."
"In China, they really can't have a breath of fresh air, but with our product here, they have a chance," Moses added.
"I think it's silly," said Kan Ho, a Houston resident who grew up in Hong Kong. "You're buying air from other countries?! That's dumb."
"Some people might try it," said Jennifer Zhao who moved here from China six years ago, "but I don't think it's going to solve the problem because they go outside, and it's not enough air to breathe."
She's right. Each can only contains about 200 breaths of air.
"I'd rather us figure out something to do for the long run," said Ce'ara Busch, concerned about China's air quality, "instead of just 20 quick, clean breaths of air."
Troy Paquette, Lam's partner in Vitality Air, explained the effect of their product on CNN, "If you just take a deep breath, it gives you that moment of relaxation, for sure."
That's something we could all use this time of year... especially those struggling to breathe in Beijing.