E-Cigarettes: Danger or Healthy Alternative?

Like a little kid showing off her new toys, Donna Queen, a 50-year-old housewife from Coral Springs, giddily opens a black pouch and reveals her quiver of electronic cigarettes. One is covered in pink rhinestones that glitter like a disco ball. Another is decorated with a purple flower pattern.

She flashes a grin. "I'm a 35-year smoker. Smoked two-and-a-half packs a day. Now I haven't smoked in 23 days! I don't hack and cough anymore."

Since a relative introduced Queen and her 28-year-old daughter to e-cigarettes a month ago, the women have sampled scores of flavors, from tobacco and menthol to dill pickle, roast beef, Jolly Rancher, and Red Bull. Sure, they have blown some money on this new hobby, but conventional smoking cost the family "$95 every three days," she says.

Last Tuesday afternoon, the two were among nine customers inside Vapor Shark, a sterile-feeling retail store that opened in mid-January on Hallandale Beach Boulevard. Though there were tables, chairs, and free coffee, shoppers hovered around a glass case, using disposable mouthpieces to puff away on samples of the store's main product — a reusable, rechargeable Fusion e-cigarette starter kit, which retails for $49.99.

Salesperson Jose Figueras was careful to say the product was not a smoking-cessation device but a "high-performance nicotine delivery system." The distinction mattered — for legal reasons.

The e-cig business today looks like a jackpot. The Wall Street Journal recently estimated the market to be worth about $300 million per year; analysts expect that number to skyrocket to $1 billion in the next year or two. With 42 million people in the United States who smoke cigarettes daily, there are still plenty of customers left to convert.

But how long this bonanza will last — and who might reap the long-term profits — is very much in question. The American Lung Association has warned that e-cigarettes "may do more harm than good." The American Cancer Society says, "There are questions about how safe it is to inhale some substances in the e-cigarette vapor into the lungs." And the FDA has expressed concern children will use them and become addicted to nicotine. There is little oversight of who sells e-cigarettes; the brothers who own Vapor Shark have criminal records, for instance. And vendors fear Big Tobacco will take over the business in the end. In April, the FDA is expected to release proposed regulations that could redefine the industry.

A lot of money is at stake. "E-cigs could surpass consumption of traditional cigs in the next decade," says Bonnie Herzog, an analyst who follows the tobacco industry for Wells Fargo.

E-cigarettes were invented by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, in 2003. Using battery power, these devices heat up "e-liquid" or "juice" and convert it into a vapor that can be inhaled. They started appearing in the United States around 2007 and were sold first through primitive websites and then at kiosks in malls.

That's where Brandon Leidel, now 37, picked up his first e-cigarette. "I was a smoker, and I had quit for five days, and I was struggling," he says. At the Dadeland Mall, "a guy stuck one in my face. I thought they were really stupid, but I was desperate. It was a way-overpriced piece of crap," but "I was blown away by it."

Many of the e-cigarette companies online had poor-quality websites and shady business practices, Leidel says. So he and his brother Scott decided they could do better.

They weren't typical young entrepreneurs. Both have criminal histories. In their teens and early 20s, both brothers were caught burglarizing neighbors' houses and cars and admitted to having drug addictions. In 1999 and again in 2001, Brandon was convicted of cocaine (crack) possession and went in and out of jail and rehab. In 2006, he was driving a stolen Astro van and fled police; he pleaded guilty to grand-theft auto, eluding police, and resisting arrest and was put on three years' probation.

Leidel admits, "In my 20s, I had all kinds of problems" but says he's been sober for 6.5 years. "When I went into recovery, my life changed," he says. Also a drummer, Leidel says he worked for record labels and started doing online marketing for bands. He and Scott then founded their own multi­media marketing company, the Hand Media.

Using their web skills, they launched Vapor Shark online in 2010 and moved into a shopping plaza on Bird Road in March 2012. Though they initially had a Ping-Pong table and kegs of beer on tap, few customers partook; they just wanted the product.

Vapor Shark combines parts from three manufacturers to make its own e-cigarette. The company's liquids, Leidel says, "are made here in-house." Nicotine levels can be customized, from zero to 36 milligrams. "We have a guy back here — he's our juice man." A $20 bottle of juice should last a customer a month and a half.

Leidel says, "All of these electric cigarette liquids have the same ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, natural and artificial flavorings, and pure nicotine." Though the ingredients are FDA-approved for foods or lozenges, there are no long-term studies about inhaling them.

Ray Story, the 47-year-old president of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, has high hopes for the cigarettes. Reached in Amsterdam, he said his company — Miami-based Smoking Everywhere — once had kiosks in 450 malls across the country.

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7 comments
rp281091
rp281091

best answer for your question is, It depends upon person who you ask. If you ask e cigarette user then definitely it will say it best alternative where non user not support e cigarette.

https://www.facebook.com/Steamlite

InternationalVaporGroup.com
InternationalVaporGroup.com

After moving to electronic cigarette I have noticed some great changes in my health, so in my opinion this device is a healthy alternative.

smith.emelia
smith.emelia


I think electronic cigarettes are a healthier alternative for those who are already traditional tobacco smokers. Smokers can get a healthier alternative and can taste different flavours of electronic cigarette. Electronic cigarettes can be charged easily with the ecig USB charger and you need not to light it up with a lighter or match stick. Apart from this they do not produce smoke. I prefer electronic cigarettes in comparison to tobacco cigarettes as they do not contain tobacco.

infoeon
infoeon

Electronic Cigarettes are here to stay. Analysts have noticed similarities between electric cigarettes and the energy drink boom that occurred within the beverage industry. The FDA is to rule on a regulatory framework for e cigarette brands to operate under at retail and through distribution channels. You can find more information at one of the leading brands http://www.eonsmoke.com

ecigator
ecigator

Most users of electronic cigarettes surveyed believe they're less dangerous than regular cigarettes and will help them stop smoking.  http://www.ecigator.net/


 
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