Exploring the Vaping Boom - WTVC
"Yeah I'm just dripping my cotton so it's not dry whenever I try to take a hit," said John Moore.
John Moore started smoking cigarettes when he was 15-years-old. He said he smoked until he was close to 24-years-old.
"Then I had one of my friends say try vaping and I did. I said hey this tastes a lot better," said Moore.
Bill Funderburk and his wife own Emote Vapes in Georgia. Funderburk is also the President of the Georgia Smoke Free Association.
"Our whole philosophy is we are pushing tobacco harm reduction. We want folks using a product that is safer than smoking. Our target market is adults that are smokers," said Funderburk.
Adults, just like Moore.
"After three days I tried it [cigarettes] and it tasted like expletives; it tasted terrible," said Moore.
"It gives folks that just won't quit at least an opportunity that is safer," said Funderburk.
This is where the debate begins. Dr. Niraj Niraula works in the division of Pulmonary vaporizers Critical Care at Erlanger.
"We don't have sufficient information or sufficient data to know how risky it is or how good it is to make people quit smoking," said Dr. Niraula.
Currently there are no FDA regulations.
"The problem with vaping is there are no rules or regulations in place regulating what kind of liquid it contains," said Dr. Niraula.
This means there are no measures to confirm the purity or safety of what's inside the cartridge. Usually a cartridge contains a combination of nicotine, propylene glycol, other liquids, and flavors.
With nearly 500 brands on the market, both sides admit that poses a problem.
"You want someone doing your mixing who understands how much you should be using," said Funderburk.
Despite this, business appears to be booming. Locally, vape shops are on almost every corner, but no city or county office could specify how many have opened their doors. A Wells Fargo Securities analyst told Reuters, she estimated the U.S. market for vapor devices would reach 3.5 billion dollars for 2015; compare that to 2.5 billion dollars in 2014.
According to Yellow pages, nearly 260 results span the area from Nashville to Atlanta. As it stands, the official verdict on whether vaping is safe or not at all is not out.
"No, I can't recommend you e-cigarettes for quitting because it is not FDA approved or anything," said Dr. Niraula.
"Vaping is not as safe as smoking cessation medications, but it probably is better than really smoking," said Dr. Niraula.
For people like Moore, it's helping them break the cigarette smoking habit that does kill.
"I don't want to say that it doesn't have any health risks because I don't know but it definitely doesn't feel like I'm hurting myself," said Moore.
The FDA will likely require pre-market review or some type of testing mechanism to determine if the products are actually safe. The FDA is expected to ban e-cigarette sales to minors under age 18, which most states have already complied with. Vape shop owners are concerned there might be taxing that would run smaller