Marc Reider failed at least five times during the past eight years to quit smoking cigarettes. Reider, of Smthville, had a two-pack-a-day habit, but he discovered electronic cigarettes last year. He finally succeeded in quitting regular cigarettes. He says electronic cigarettes enabled him to do so.
"I liked to smoke. This re-placed something I liked to do," said Reider, 35, who spoke inside the 9 South Vapes store in Galloway Town-ship, which is a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette store. "Aside from obvious health reasons, it (electronic cigarettes) allowed me to have what I enjoyed. It gave me more than what cigarettes gave me. Looking at the scales, it was a clear choice. ... I credit this store with giving me years of my life."
The use of e-cigarettes have been on the rise since the first disposable ones were introduced to the market two years ago.
Revenues from the sales of e-cigarettes, both retail and online, will total $1.2 billion this year, said Tom Kiklas, co-founder and CFO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. Four million Americans are using the products currently, and it's projected to quadruple by at least 2016, Kiklas said. The average vaporizer kit is $34.99.
Much of this growth will be fueled by people switching from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes don't burn and don't produce tobacco smoke, which contains dozens of known carcinogens. Instead, electric current from a battery heats a liquid containing nicotine. The resulting vapor is inhaled, mimicking the feel (and look) of tobacco smoke with what more closely resembles steam. Since e-cigarettes produce vapor, not smoke, the use of them is called "vaping."
The regular cigarette and the e-cigarette both contain the addictive substance of nicotine.
Anecdotal evidence says some people are switching from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes and finding them less harmful, but long-term use of e-cigarettes has not been studied. A Food and Drug Administration decision is expected soon on whether and how to regulate e-cigarettes.
This is making medical professionals cautious about their recommendations regarding e-cigarettes.
Dr. James Wurzer, medical director of Radiation Oncology at the AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, said he was not opposed to the e-cigarettes if they are used as a smoking cessation tool.
"We don't want to use it as a replacement for cigarettes," said Wurzer, who added e-cigarettes can be effective in reducing the amount of nicotine a patient is exposed to.
The liquid inside an e-cigarette is a mixture of propylene glycol (a common chemical used in many food products), vegetable glycerin, flavoring and nicotine. A person can still use an e-cigarette and reach a zero nicotine level by buying liquids with lower nicotine content each time.
"I have no problem with our patients being on nicotine supplements, and I have no problems specifically with the electronic cigarette if used appropriately," Wurzer said. "Nicotine can be toxic. People can have lots of problems with nicotine, so you don't want to overdose on it either. It's very rare, but the whole idea is not to just administer more nicotine to somebody who is addicted. It's to actually help them taper down or off, stop smoking and hopefully, not go back to it."
Tracy Carbone, 27, has been smoking regular cigarettes since she reached her teenage years. She has asthma. She would use her inhaler throughout the day and would wake up three or four times during the night while on regular cigarettes.
Carbonehas only had two regular cigarettes during the past two months since she started using the e-cigarettes.
"I feel a whole lot better," said Carbone, a former Tuckerton resident, who moved two months ago to Toms River. "Before the e-cigarette, I tried multiple, multiple times (to quit) whether it was because cigarettes are expensive, which they are, or my breathing was bad. ... I have something else to do that's better for me."
Carbone has been smoking regular cigarettes since age 13 and developed asthma at age 15 or 16, she said. She is now trying to help her parents stop smoking regular cigarettes.
The liquid inside the e-cigarettes is available in hundreds of flavors with varying levels of nicotine. The flavors, with such names as Bourbon, Cotton Candy and Cowboy, cause some to worry they might be attractive to young people, who are not smoking currently.
This is a concern of Larider Ruffin, a nurse practitioner and certified tobacco treatment specialist at the AtlantiCare Special Care Center in Atlantic City and Galloway Township.
"There are a lot of young people, like high school students or even middle school students, who may try to use it because it looks cool. They have them in many different types of flavors. It's appealing to the younger generation," Ruffin said. "When they (teenagers) get addicted to that nicotine, they will eventually use the other cigarettes that we know for a fact have a lot of chemicals that can cause health issues and even lead to premature death."
In 2010, legislation was signed in this state amending the 2006 Smoke Free Air Act to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces and banning e-cigarette sales to people age 19 and younger, the state Department of Health said.
John Abbey operates the Galloway Township location of 9 South Vapes, which also has stores in Tuckerton and Toms River.
Abbey said his stores abide by the state laws and don't sell to anyone under age 20. Each store has its own mixologist to customize the juice or liquid placed inside the e-cigarette. People having been traveling from Vineland, Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, Camden County, to come to their stores, and that's why they are opening a fourth location in January in Cherry Hill, Abbey said.
9 South Vapes specializes in personal vaporizers that are rechargeble, which come with external chargers and which can be customized with a range of atomizers - the heating element that turns nicotine liquid into vapor.
"A lot of doctors send patients to our Galloway Township and Tuckerton locations," Abbey said. "You can vape zero nicotine if you want."
Press wire services contributed to this report.
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