E-Cigarettes: A business boom and an alternative for smokers

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Anchor - Todd Faulkner
Chief Photojournalist - Mike Spissinger

PADUCAH, KY -  Cold turkey, hypnotherapy and even the patch.  Cigarette smokers will try just about anything if they want to kick the habit. 

A number of studies by the Food & Drug Administration show cigarettes are just as addictive as cocaine which might be why millions of Americans struggle to quit every year. 
 
Lately, many people turn to devices sparking a business boom in the Local 6 area but doctors wonder just how safe they really are.  Cigarette smokers puff E-cigarettes and vapor devices as alternatives.  If you haven't already, you will soon see more electronic-cigarette commercials on television.  
 
Sam Nelson owns Vape Paradise with locations in Paducah and Murray.  He said people are picking up the devices in an effort to put down cigarettes. 
 
"We have standing room only in here on many occasions," Nelson said.  "They're starting to smell and taste more things.  A world that's been lost to them for several decades in some cases." 
 
Nelson added, "They go out and split wood and they can go, you know, five or 10 more minutes before they run out of breath.  They're walking up and down a flight of stairs." 
 
You won't find harmful chemicals like tar, lead and formaldehyde in vaping devices like you do in cigarettes.  
 
"We got strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, raspberry rum," Nelson added. 
 
Doctor Peter Locken, a local Oncologist, said don't assume they're entirely safe. 
 
"It has some potential for good, but like anything, it can be abused," Locken said.  "I mean, if I had a patient that could get off cigarettes and go to e-cigarettes that would be my preference.  But I wouldn't want somebody who's not smoking to start e-cigarettes because they think it's safe." 
 
Locken said that because customers can buy flavors with trace amounts of nicotine. levels range from 24 to 6 milligrams. 
 
Justin Bradham said the choice to vape was easy. 
 
"I just had a newborn recently so it was kind of a personal choice.  Didn't want him to be around it," Bradham noted. 
 
Nelson plans to open a third store in the near future.  There are also separate stores in Metropolis, Illinois, another in Lone Oak, Kentucky and one in northwest Tennessee. 
 
Only e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated by the FDA.  e-cigarettes and vapor devices have not been fully studied but the FDA plans to do so and that could lead to additional regulation. 
 
On that issue, Nelson said, "I wouldn't say we're fearful of it.  We do - we wished it wouldn't happen.  I mean, I don't know that there's any industry that would welcome regulation." 
 
There are countless groups in favor of electronic cigarettes including this one. To learn more about vaping from one industry leader, click here. 
 
To view what the Food & Drug Administration has on file concerning e-cigarettes and other devices, click here
 
Join the conversation on this topic online, on Facebook and on Twitter.  Learn how by clicking here.

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