OMAHA As cigarette sales are dropping in the U.S. the sale of e-cigarettes are booming. An industry already worth more than $2 billion in 2014, projections from multiple studies show it will grow to new heights in 2015.
Advocates of e-cigarettes say they’re beneficial and far more healthy than the alternative combustible cigarettes, but opponents say it’s too early to tell what e-cigarettes do to our bodies.
In Omaha the largest e-cigarette company is Alohma. Formerly known as Plumes, the company is growing by leaps and bounds considering a few short years ago it didn’t own a single store front.
Today, they’ve served more than 45,000 customers. One of its managers, Tim Bowen, says the company is responsible for changing lives estimating they’ve helped as many as 20-percent of Omaha’s smokers curb their smoking habit or quit entirely.
“I think we have to fall back to common sense and we have to recognize that as an alternative an electronic cigarette is better,” said Bowen.
Recent studies have cast a shadow of e-cigarettes, but Bowen and his staff say there are more questions raised by studies than hard fact. He disputes a highly publicized study done in Portland that claimed formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen found in cigarette smoke, also dwells in the vaporized liquid in e-cigarettes. He also points out that recent studies showing an increase in teen usage of the product could be considered an anomaly given how new the product is.
Anomaly or not, the usage of e-cigarettes among teens is a topic that has a lot of people fired up. A recent CDC survey showed that from 2012 to 2013 the number of high school aged teens who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days had jumped from 2.8 percent to 4.5 percent.
Flavors of e-juice, the liquid used to flavor the vapor e-cigarette users inhale, range from chocolate to cappuccino and apple pie. Some say is lends itself to an increased use among teens, while adults who use them say they deserve a choice.
“I liked it right away, it had a flavor,” said Nina Doran, an adult who credits e-cigarettes with helping her kick a smoking habit from the day she began using the product.
Teens who use e-cigarettes and spoke with WOWT 6 News about the products cited a number of reasons for using them, none said they used them to quit smoking. However, none agreed to speak on camera about the subject because of current rules in Nebraska that make it illegal to smoke e-cigarettes if you’re under the age of 18.
Other states have taken more drastic steps with e-cigarette in recent months. In California the health officials issued a public health advisory, urging the state’s residents to avoid or stop using e-cigarettes.