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Target 3: Up in Smoke

Weighing the Cost of E-Cigarettes

You can buy them in gas stations and drugs stores, and now there are entire shops dedicated to "vaping." Stogies now has two stores in Wichita Falls, and recently opened one in Seymour.

Michael Lewis with Stogies says, “Just out of the people I see here and repeat customers I can guarantee the number is 200-300 -- but I know it's higher than that.”

Nick Gallaway is one of those customers. He smoked for more than a decade, but he's been vaping for a few years now.

He says, “My lung capacity feels better. I go to the gym and I walk and I don't get winded or wheezy. everything is working out really well.”

He says he even smells better, and his chronic cough has all but disappeared, and on top of that he says switching to e-cigarette's is saving him money.

Locally, you'll make an initial investment between 60 and 100 dollars for your battery, tank and nicotine liquid. A bottle costs around 20 bucks, and shop owners say it's the equivalent of 3 cartons of cigarettes. If you buy 3 cartons of cigarettes, you'll spend between 150 and 200 dollars.

A reports show the e-cigarettes appear to be effective. A recent study of more than 600 smokers trying to quit looked at the effects of using the patch or e-cigarettes. 7.3-percent of e-cigarette users were able to quit smoking for 6 months, compared to 5.8-percent of patch users.

While hundreds, if not thousands of people in Wichita Falls are turning to e-cigarettes, but questions remain about how safe the devices are.

Lewis says, they're still not 100 percent sure about nicotine, if it is actually as harmless as caffeine. Before the patch and the gum, no one's done just nicotine. There's still that unknown. There's also an unknown about water vapor coming into your lungs.

Darrin French, Director of Respiratory Care at United Regional says, “You're still introducing the nicotine and chemicals to your lung. All you're doing is moving one bad habit to another. There hasn't been a whole lot of discussion about the e-cigarettes.”

French says he doesn't buy into the theory that e-cigs are a way to kick the habit, and he doesn't think they're safe.

Over the last 4 or 5 years it's tripled in use as far as e-cigarettes go. It still has the nicotine it still has the chemicals. You're still going to have the chance at lung cancer,” French says.

Right now, the FDA hasn't made a ruling on e-cigarettes. Even if they are found to be safe, french says, “you're still introducing the nicotine and chemicals to your lung. All you're doing is moving one bad habit to another.”

The FDA has indicated the devices should be regulated, the big question now is what those regulations will be. Locally, retailers say they're more worried about taxes that could be imposed than regulation by the FDA.

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