‘Vaping’: An Alternative To Tobacco, What We Know And What We Don’t

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 6, 2014) —  Electronic cigarettes are an industry billed as an alternative to smoking in an increasingly smoke-free world.  But as the new habit replaces the old, some wonder if we know enough about electronic cigarettes to label them safe.

Joost Vapor is just one of many stores offering E-cigarettes and hundreds of complimentary products in West Michigan.

The store in Comstock Park has been open since July, offering an alternative to tobacco.

“They are a lot better for you,” said Evan Brogan who works at Joost Vapor, “No tars, no toxins, no carcinogens.”

Jenna Herrema uses the product and also sells it at the Comstock Park store.  “I loved smoking,” she said.  “I just loved it for some reason.  Ever since I started this I quit cold turkey.”

Customers can choose a device, choose a flavor, fill it up and puff away on a mixture of water, flavoring and other ingredients.

“It’s propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin both ingredients have been pharmaceutically passed to be able to be ingested and inhaled,” said Brogan.

It’s those ingredients that have been a topic of debate.

“There is no product control,” said tobacco addiction counselor and respiratory therapist Laura VanHeest.  “Nobody telling them what they can use and what they can’t use.”

E-cigarettes can be sold with or without nicotine making the product accessible to all ages.

“We personally, Joost Vapor, card people who are 18-years-old or older to be able to get nicotine in their product.”

VanHeest said she also has a problem with the marketing of the product.

“Hollywood is pushing it,” said VanHeest.  “So who is going to pick it up? Kids.”

The FDA said E-cigarettes haven’t been fully studied so, with or without nicotine, the long-term effects are unknown.

“Granted there is less, that we know of, poisonous things in the E-cigarettes than there is in a regular cigarette because tobacco leaf itself is toxic, but we also know that nicotine is a poison,” said VanHeest.

Supporters said they’ve seen people put down tobacco and never pick it back up and said at this point the good outweighs the unknown.

“People bringing in their moms that have been smoking for 60 years and talking about how this is really helping,” said Herrema.

Some of these devices we are looking at range in price from $40.00 to more than $100.00.  You also need to buy the liquid that goes in the device.