Personal Vaporizers: Health Hype and Big Business

By Troy Espera, ABS CBN North America Bureau

Hayward, Calif – It may look like a smoking den inside a small e-cigarette store, but the Filipino American employees and customers at ‘It is vapor 5’ will tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.
They yearn to burn electronic cigarettes or vaporizers—the battery powered inhalers that are fueling a movement –away from traditional tobacco smoke products.

“We’re here to help people quit smoking and not get cancer. Change their lives. Help people take a walk better without wheezing,” said Jennifer Mish. And make no mistake, those who use them don’t smoke– they ‘vape’–using these nicotine infused liquids made in flavors like maple rum, cotton candy, even ube.

“So when you inhale, it turns it into steam or vapor smoke. It’s totally different than smoking a cigarette. It has no carcinogens,” Mish said.

Fil am customer Mark Roa used to be a pack a day smoker for 13 years. He says he switched to vaping because it seemed healthier.

“I can breathe and last longer on the treadmill. I can smell things more better than I used to,” he said.
But the U.S Food and Drug Adminstration warns that health claims are hazy at best and plans to regulate them like real cigarettes.

Abroad, stricter health regulators in the United Kingdom ruled to classify them as medicines to extinguish any doubts about their safety.

Vapers are fuming over this.

“We’re so anti-cigarettes. It just hurts for people to suggest that to us,” Mish said, “basically it’s all ignorance. They don’t know what it is and they don’t take the time to find out.”
Business is big for vaporizers and e-cigs– so big that big tobacco companies want in on the action.

Marlboro, Reynolds America, and Lorillard Inc all caught a whiff of this growing demand and have started pushing e-cigarettes of their own. It’s a market that raked in $2-billion USD globally in 2011 and analysts say those figures could more than double in 2013.

For now, the folks at It Is Vapor 5 say they try not to worry about getting smoked by competition or threatened with bans by vapor haters.

“Something new came out, it’s taking over the world and it’s helping people be healthy. Why not be positive about that?” Mish quipped.

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