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 theirmouths. 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 fromnicotine, 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 tolook for an alternative, something they can use where they can'tsmoke cigarettes and this is an alternative for that," saidHartwell.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered, and heat up a cartridgecontaining liquid nicotine, which turns into a vapor the smokerinhales.
"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 Leaguedecided to buy in bulk and re-sell to our customers so they couldget a better price," said Sue Robinson, president of the BrownCounty Tavern League. "And we're doing this in hopes that it'llkeep our smoking customers comfortable and returning to ourtaverns."
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 bythe FDA. We don't know if they're safe or if they're not. Theyhaven't been studied enough to know," said Connie Olson, executivedirector, Community Action for Healthy Living.
Earlier this week the AmericanMedical Association echoed that sentiment, saying e-cigarettesshould be subject to FDA regulations.
However, some bar owners see them as an option to help keepcustomers in their tavern.
Some people have quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes,however they are not a quitting agent.
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