Updated: Friday, 18 Jun 2010, 8:17 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 17 Jun 2010, 10:02 PM CDT
BROWN COUNTY - Wisconsin is just a few weeks away from smoke-free workplaces, but you may see people with a different kind of cigarette in their mouths. While some like the alternative to traditional cigarettes, many agree they are not healthy.
Tye Hartwell says what appears to be smoke is simply vapors from nicotine, which he inhaled from an "electronic cigarette."
Hartwell started selling the e-cigarettes about five months ago. He says business is good.
"Right now with the smoking bans coming, everybody's trying to look for an alternative, something they can use where they can't smoke cigarettes and this is an alternative for that," said Hartwell.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered, and heat up a cartridge containing liquid nicotine, which turns into a vapor the smoker inhales.
"It's not harmless because you're still getting your nicotine, but it's not nearly as harmful as a cigarette," said Hartwell.
Hartwell sells starter kits for $60-$100. He sells 10 refills, the equivalent of 10 packs, for $15.
"They're a little pricey to buy by the pack, so Tavern League decided to buy in bulk and re-sell to our customers so they could get a better price," said Sue Robinson, president of the Brown County Tavern League. "And we're doing this in hopes that it'll keep our smoking customers comfortable and returning to our taverns."
While e-cigarettes may not have the tar of regular cigarettes, some still have concerns.
"The e-cigarettes are something that have not been approved by the FDA. We don't know if they're safe or if they're not. They haven't been studied enough to know," said Connie Olson, executive director, Community Action for Healthy Living.
Earlier this week the American Medical Association echoed that sentiment, saying e-cigarettes should be subject to FDA regulations.
However, some bar owners see them as an option to help keep customers in their tavern.
Some people have quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes, however they are not a quitting agent.