Once a fringe indulgence, e cigarettes have become a more than billion dollar business nationwide.

In the last two years, vaping lounges have sprouted in the suburbs of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and in Center City and the South Street corridor.

Vaping products are in demand, and momentum is building as big tobacco companies begin investing in e cigarettes. Some predict sales of vapor products will surpass tobacco within a decade.

Government at all levels has taken notice and has struggled to find appropriate ways to regulate and tax vaping.

New Jersey has already outlawed selling to those younger than 19, and Gov. Christie has proposed taxing vaping products at higher levels, similar to cigarettes.

This month in Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter signed bills that outlaw sales to minors within the city and prohibit vaping in workplaces, bars, restaurants, and other public places.

And last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced proposed new regulations that would forbid the sale of vaping products to those younger than 18.

Though some say the FDA is moving too slowly, those who vape are less concerned.

They support regulation to make sure products are safe but feel increasing taxes would be misguided. The lifestyle, they say, does away with smoking cigarettes, which is known to cause cancer.

Vaping is considerably less expensive, and high taxes could discourage smokers from trying the alternative.

At Popie’s on Wednesday, Donaldson and DiTullio were unconcerned as they sat with owner Robert Eichenberger, 38, comparing flavors and the hardware that vaporizes the nicotine solution.

Blowing vapor plumes that looked like smoke, the three were among the born again who swear vaping allowed them to quit smoking.

“We’re getting this nicotine without cigarettes, thank the Lord,” Eichenberger said, arms raised. He started smoking at 14 and tried quitting for years until he started vaping. “I’m a recovering cigarette addict.”

Eichenberger, who formerly owned a construction business, and his wife, Heidi, 39, a medical professional, opened Popie’s more than a year ago. The foggy retreat is filled with a bouquet of sweet aromas where they educate new customers and allow them to try vaping. They have a steady flow of new and return customers, many of whom arrive at lunch or after work to vape.

“It’s a new frontier. It’s run by new people,” said DiTullio, a critic of big tobacco.

Donaldson began vaping six months ago.

“I drip a menthol flavor, so it’s minty. I feel so much healthier,” she said. She enjoys cycling and said she now has more endurance.

Those at Popie’s are among legions of nicotine users who say they vape to keep away from cigarettes, which stained their teeth, stressed their lungs, and left a disgusting stench on their clothing.

Christina Craine, 35, of Lindenwold, and her friend David Gordon, 47, of Collingswood, were also at Popie’s last week. Gordon, a light smoker, quickly appreciated the advantages of flavor vaping.

“This is much more enjoyable,” Gordon said. “I smoked a cigarette a couple of weeks ago and it was absolutely disgusting. Absolutely nauseating.”

Craine is more dependent on nicotine and said she had “a moment” when her e cigarette clogged. She bought a larger, more expensive model and keeps two less expensive backups.

Electronic cigarettes come in all sizes and colors hot pink, sky blue, black, chrome. There are petite models that appeal to soccer moms. Designs also include skulls for the alternative crowd.

The devices use a lithium battery operated igniter that heats the nicotine juice so the vapor can be inhaled. Users select the nicotine level they prefer. The variation of flavors seems endless, including applejack, Swedish fish, and Turkish tobacco.

John Mikhail, 29, of King of Prussia, was at the World’s Finest Vape Shop in Bridgeport, Montgomery County, on Wednesday for a fruit flavor called “Dragon’s Blood.”

He was in the 10th day of his ninth try at quitting Newports. Although he believes vaping may be better than cigarettes, he is still concerned about the potential side effects of vaping.

Research suggests some vaping products are safer than cigarettes and can help reduce nicotine consumption, but experts warn the long term effects are unknown.

“Anyone who is vaping may be using something harmful, or not harmful. We really can’t say,” said Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends for the American Cancer Society.

He cited a recent New Zealand study that showed vaping may help wean smokers off cigarettes within six months with no apparent adverse short term health effects.

Because the sale of vapor products is not strongly regulated, however, the ingredients vary significantly among manufacturers. The FDA tested some juices and found dangerous carcinogens.

The American Cancer Society does not endorse the use of e cigarettes, pending more research.

Vape shops are now open in South Philadelphia and Center City, mostly catering to those in their 20s and 30s.

Paul Vu, manager of Vapordelphia at Ninth and South Streets, said business had been better than expected.

Darius Nguyen, a manager at the Exclusive Vape Shop on South Street, said vaping sells itself. “You’re presenting a form of nicotine that is so much healthier than regular cigarettes.”

Someone who smokes a pack a day might start with 18 milligrams of nicotine, while a light smoker might prefer six. Those who want to quit can slowly reduce the nicotine.

On Wednesday, Lynne Palmer, 39, of South Philadelphia, visited Exclusive Vape. She ordinarily buys online and said she started vaping for health reasons.

“I’m turning 40 this year, and one of the things I have is good skin, and that changes if you keep smoking,” she said. Quitting smoking “just makes you feel a lot better. You can actually taste food now.”


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E-cigarette ban for minors proposed in u.s. – health – cbc news

Cdc – fact sheet – fast facts – smoking & tobacco use

Hamburg said the current proposal “lays the foundation for many more actions and activities.”

Vince Willmore, a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said the proposal “by no means does everything we think needs to be done, but it starts the process. What is critical now is that they finalize this rule and then move quickly to fill the gaps.”

Likewise in Canada, the Non Smokers’ Rights Association called the proposed U.S. moves a step in the right direction.

“Right now, we have e cigarettes being advertised and promoted in all the same ways that tobacco products were and that is one of the main risks we think to promoting e cigarette use, nicotine addiction and possibly even cigarette addiction amongst youth is the re normalization of smoking type behaviours,” said Melodie Tilson, director of policy for the Non Smokers’ Rights Association in Ottawa.

Ban on free samples proposed

A law passed in 2009 gave the FDA authority to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll your own tobacco and stipulated the agency could extend its jurisdiction to other nicotine products after issuing a rule to that effect. E cigarettes use battery powered cartridges to produce a nicotine laced inhalable vapour.

‘By not addressing the youth directed marketing it means it won’t be addressed for a very long time.’ Stanton Glantz

In the short term, the rule would prohibit companies from distributing free e cigarette samples, forbid vending machine sales except in adult only venues and prohibit sales to minors. Companies would be required to warn that nicotine is addictive, but no other health warnings would be required. The addiction warning would have to be added no later than two years after the rule is set. The companies would not be allowed to make health claims in any advertising.

The proposal is subject to a public comment period of 75 days. Willmore said the FDA should aim to establish the rule within a year.

Some are skeptical that restrictions on marketing or flavors will come any time soon.

“The reality of these things is that every step takes years,” said Glantz. “By not addressing the youth directed marketing it means it won’t be addressed for a very long time.”

Evolving ‘vaping’ industry

Some e cigarette companies that sell primarily through convenience stores were surprised at the lack of restrictions on online sales, since it can be difficult to verify a customer’s age over the internet.

“The internet thing is very surprising to me,” said Miguel Martin, president of Logic Technology, one of the biggest e cigarette manufacturers. “It reduces the visibility of the sales of the products and the type of products that the government has awareness of.”

The rules would require companies to submit new and existing products to the FDA for approval. They would have two years to submit applications from the time the rule goes into effect. Companies may continue selling their products and introducing new products pending the FDA’s review.

In the meantime, they would be required to register with the FDA and list the ingredients in their products. They would not be required to adhere immediately to specific product or quality control standards. That could come later, Hamburg said.

Canadian regulations

E cigarettes and other “vaping” devices generate roughly $2 billion a year in the United States, and some industry analysts expect their sales to outpace the $85 billion conventional cigarette industry within a decade.

Advocates of e cigarettes claim they are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, since they do not produce lung destroying tar. But there is little data about their long term safety.

Health Canada said in an email that it is monitoring the actions of other regulators and “considering all options for appropriate oversight of these products.”

“Health Canada reminds Canadians that e cigarettes with nicotine or e cigarettes with a health claim are not authorized for sale in Canada,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

“To date, there is not sufficient evidence that the potential benefits of e cigarettes in helping Canadians to quit smoking outweigh the potential risks. A company would have to provide evidence of safety, quality and effectiveness in order to have its product authorized. Without this scientific evidence, Health Canada continues to advise Canadians, especially youth, against the use of these products.”

The Nova Scotia government said it is looking for guidance from Health Canada before the province introduces legislation in the fall. Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine is concerned about what may be in the “juice” of e cigarettes.

“These are showing up in schools because they’re not illegal,” said Glavine. “So our legislation will bring e cigarettes under the Smoking and Public Places Act and so that will be restrictive and also in terms of if there’s approval in Canada for sales, they would not, of course, be able to be sold to minors.”

Daniel David, a spokesman for the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association, said the FDA proposals should be adopted in Canada to make it clear to vendors that there are regulations to follow.

The FDA’s proposal leaves many questions unanswered about how new products would be regulated over the long run. One key question relates to how products are approved.

Under current law, new tobacco products can be approved if they are “substantially equivalent” to a product that was on the market before Feb. 15, 2007. It is unclear whether any e cigarettes were on sale before then, to be used as a benchmark.

Mitch Zeller, head of the FDA’s tobacco division, said at a briefing that the agency would be seeking more information during the public comment period on whether the “substantial equivalence” pathway is even valid for e cigarettes.

If it is not, e cigarette companies would have to use a different process, which would require them to prove their products are appropriate for public health, a higher hurdle to clear.