Pro/Con: Should the FDA regulate e-cigarettes?

On Jan. 11, 1964, the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health released its very first report on tobacco smoking.

Based on scientific evidence consisting of over 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease, the report cited tobacco smoking as a major cause of lung and laryngeal cancer and chronic bronchitis.

The report launched a “war on smoking” that soon required health warnings on cigarette packages and bans on broadcast cigarette commercials, and by recent years had led to bans on smoking in certain areas, with numerous laws and regulations in between.

During this half-century of cigarette regulation, two facts have been impressed upon the nation: 1) smoking tobacco kills people; 2) once a person is addicted to smoking cigarettes, or, rather, to the nicotine one ingests by smoking cigarettes, it is very hard for a person to quit.

So when an invention came along — e-cigarettes — that supply nicotine in much the same way as a tobacco cigarette, but without any apparent link to cancer or lung disease, there were many cheers.

Finally there was a product that could help those who were addicted and for whom the available anti-smoking aids had not been of sufficient help.

Lives could be saved. People could replace their tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes; switch out smoke and carcinogens with water vapor and the horrible smell with no smell at all — or the light scent of a chosen flavor, such as mint or strawberry.

One would expect the response of the public health community to be a near-universal “hurrah.”

But for those who appear to be addicted to regulation, and not to public health, e-cigarettes provide an unwelcome challenge.

How do they go about banning access to a product that saves lives? And what do they say when people, quite reasonably, ask, “why do you want to”?

For many of these regulators, the answer is as “what if.” “What if” vaping — inhaling water vapor through an e-cigarette — turns out to be harmful? “What if” people who vape decide to start smoking, because they first vaped?

It is on the basis of these “The director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, J.D., made the key point clear in an interview with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Public Health: “People are smoking for the nicotine, but dying from the tar.”

He says e-cigarette regulation should take into account the “continuum of risk: that there are different nicotine-containing and nicotine-delivering products that pose different levels of risk to the individual,” and regulate accordingly.

Which means America should not treat e-cigarettes and vaping just like tobacco smoking and smoking, because smoking is far more dangerous than vaping.

Smoking kills. Vaping is a safer alternative, and our nation’s regulatory policy will save lives if it reflects this fact.


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Secondhand E-Cig Vapor Can Penetrate Paint. What Does That Mean For Your Lungs?

The aerosol particles emitted from vaping are so tiny they can actually seep through paint on walls — the pores in the paint would look like Swiss cheese in comparison to the particle size.

The emissions from e-cigarettes are just water vapor, right? Wrong.

The “vapor” emitted from an e-cig is actually not water vapor, but more like an aerosol gas, as the emissions consist of tiny particles that contain nicotine, glycerin/glycols, artificial flavorings and preservatives, among other chemicals, according to a new study from RTI International.

And the warm, humid conditions of the lungs seem to prevent these aerosol particles from evaporating — which is cause for concern. This is just one of the learnings gleaned from an expert panel that convened on Thursday to discuss the latest research in vaping.

The takeaway: E-cigarette emissions — whether you yourself are vaping or if you’re standing next to someone who is — have an immediate effect on your acute lung function.

A big concern is the size of the particles, according toJonathan Thornburg, Ph.D., author of the study and a senior research engineer and director of Exposure and Aerosol Technology at RTI International. “They are smaller than 1,000 nanometers, 50 times smaller than the width of a human hair,” he says. “They can stay airborne for a long time, and penetrate into the deepest part of our lungs.”

The extremely minute size of the particles actually ups their penetrative powers, which is causing experts to wonder what the impacts will be for tissues inside the body. Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, says the aerosol particles emitted are so tiny they can actually seep through the paint on painted walls. If you scaled that representation to size, the pores in the paint would look something like Swiss cheese in comparison to the particle size — which might cause imminent problems.

We may see vastly different health effects result from of e-cigarette use than we do from conventional cigarettes. Because they don’t burn anything and there’s a lack of combustion, fewer cancer-causing chemicals are emitted. However, e-cig emissions are still composed of ultra-fine particles with nicotine and numerous other potentially damaging additives. “Even some of the flavorings are dangerous — like cinnamon, if you inhale it, can be quite toxic,” Glantz says. “It’s a different risk profile. Some toxicologists think it’s inappropriate to even compare e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes.”

Glantz thinks we may eventually discover more heart-related consequences associated with vaping. “Exposure to the ultra-fine particles inhibits blood vessels to get larger when they need to, and makes platelets sticky, which leads to more heart attacks,” he says. “The particle effects are a big factor. The oxidizing agents also oxidize cholesterol, which leads to heart disease and heart attacks.”

And that doesn’t just go for e-cig emissions. Similar health issues also might result in areas of high air pollution, too. “It’s important to understand that heart attacks are triggered,”Glantz continues. “The ultra-fine particles lead to inflammation, which can actually trigger a heart attack.”

Ultimately, when asked flat-out about safety, the panel concluded that e-cigarettes are probably not as harmful as standard cigarettes. “We know that the level of carcinogens and toxins are lower,”says Thornburg.

That said, there was no endorsement for unending use.

“They’re not as dangerous as cigarettes, but they’re not safe,”Glantz says. “You are better off not using them. The question is how much safer are they than regular cigarettes?”

To put it in better perspective, Glantz also offers this: “They are less toxic than a cigarette, but the cigarette is probably the most toxic consumer product ever designed. It’s a low bar.”

And although many ingredients are regarded as generally safe by the FDA upon ingestion, the effects upon inhalationaren’t well understood or studied, leaving a need for better clarity — especially with the prevalence of e-cigarettes taking off in recent years. Since 2007, e-cig sales have doubled each year, finally reaching the $1 billion mark in 2013.

Roughly 13 percent of adults have tried vaping, one-third of whom had never before smoked conventional cigarettes, according to Annice Kim, Ph.D., a senior social scientist in the Public Health Policy Research Program at RTI. “Eight percent of current tobacco smokers also use e-cigarettes,” says Kim, who is currently tracking vaping trends on social media and among key demographics, like kids and teens.

“The trends are alarming,” she says. “Seventeen percent of 12th graders have used e-cigarettes in the past month. To date, 40 states have prohibited e-cigarette sales to minors, but as of January 1, 2015, only four states have banned e-cigarette use in schools statewide.”


‘Vaping’ is an ‘unknown’ risk

Layne Forden smoked for 17 years until he discovered “vaping.”

He is now smoke-free and has been for two years — but he does “vape” and owns Go Vapors in Cedar City.

Vapers, or e-cigarettes, are not sold as a means to quit smoking, but Forden said most of his customers are smokers or ex-smokers.

“It’s amazing the transition they go through,” he said. “Especially the elderly. They have more energy, can breathe and become active again.”

Forden said his customer-base has grown leaps and bounds since he opened a year and a half ago, but most of them — at least 80-90 percent — are not young adults, which is a stereotype hitting the media.

Vaping has taken the country by storm, taking the idea of the e-cigarette and turning it, for some, into a way of tapering off cigarettes, though companies shy away from marketing e-cigarettes as smoking cessation alternatives.

E-cigarettes are called “cig-alikes.” They have an end that glows as the user inhales and only emits steam, or vapor. What’s in e-cigarettes changes from one company to the next.

A spin-off of the e-cigarette is the “vaper.”

A “vaper,” or personal vaporizer, is cylindrical and has a tank to hold liquid. Some vapers are small, others large. Some are charged with an USB charger, others have a battery one can remove and charge. The liquid, or juice, has four ingredients — United States Pharmacopeia approved vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and flavoring and, for those who want it, nicotine, Forden said.

The vapers heat up the liquid, turning it into vapor that is inhaled.

Vegetable glycerine is made up of plant oils, which are natural triglycerides. It’s used in things including food, herbal tinctures and cosmetics, according to several websites.

USP approved propylene glycol is used in everyday items such as ice cream, cake and frosting, candies, salad dressings, sodas, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals — oral, injected and topical, according to several health and science websites.

The flavorings are often those used in making candy — strawberry, peppermint, root beer, melon, etc.

However, the flavorings are where one should worry, said Brendon Gunn, co-owner of Cloud 9 Vapor in St. George.

“Our company has chosen to deal with flavoring companies that have done extensive research,” he said.

Many flavorings are made with dyes, alcohol as well as other chemicals already known to cause problems, so it’s wise for consumers to investigate the products they buy and what’s in them, he said.

It doesn’t help, Gunn said, that there are so many different companies, brands of e-cigarettes and vapers and recipes for juice out there, and there is no set ingredients.

Gunn said vaping is a phenomenon which threatens to out-pace tobacco in sales in the next decade but worries Americans because it’s unknown.

Many are also worried youth will begin trying it making it the next “gateway drug.”

Theodore Moon, a pulmonary specialist at Intermountain Health Care in St. George, said because vaping is so new, it will be a while before any studies can accurately determine its harmful effects.

The fact that it’s growing exponentially in popularity worries Moon because effects are currently unknown. He said he fears there will be another health crisis similar to that related to cigarettes down the line, and he doesn’t offer it to his patients as an alternative, either.

Moon said he has “yet to meet anyone who has quit by using e-cigarettes.”

Those who walk in his shop wanting to use vaping as a way to quit are strongly advised to ween themselves off of nicotine, Gunn said.

Forden agrees customizing a plan lessening the additive is the best option.

Gunn said nicotine is a dangerous, deadly additive.

Forden doesn’t suggest anyone making their own juice at home use nicotine.

“If it were up to me, it would be illegal for the (public) to buy nicotine,” he said. “It’s that dangerous.”

Studies are slowly emerging in this new fad and its possible effects.

One study conducted by Thomas Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth University discovered that five minutes after smoking cigarettes, smokers had elevated levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in their systems — vapers didn’t.

Cigarette users also had an increased heart rate, whereas vapers didn’t, according to the study.

Before deciding vapor is safe because of the one study, though, one must consider the findings of another – the University of Athens examined the effects of vapor on the lungs, and the findings weren’t positive.

The researchers found increases in airway resistance, similar to that suffered by smokers, the study indicated.

Gunn agrees with Moon that it’ll be years before any solid evidence shows the true effects of vaping.

But Gunn and Forden also go out of their way to create juice with as little chemicals as possible, they said.

The thing to remember, though, is not everyone who makes and sells juice considers safety, Gunn said.




California is the newest case study in the e-cigarette information wars. On Sunday, California's public health department went live with an awareness campaign about e-cigarettes on a new website, Still Blowing Smoke. By the time of their official launch on Monday, vaping advocates were already on the offensive with a nearly identical site: Not Blowing Smoke.

The websites are easy to confuse. Backed by three vaping-advocacy groups, Not Blowing Smoke borrows font, design elements, and imagery from the state's website — except where California’s is filled with public-health warnings about e-cigarettes, the copycat site downplays the health concerns and says the science proving these devices are healthy is unequivocal.



E-Cigarettes May Be Just as Bad as The Real Thing

Two new studies have turned out some scary findings about e-cigarettes. The first one, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that e-cigarette vapor can harbor hidden formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — at levels up to 15 times greater than regular cigarettes. "We discovered this form of formaldehyde hidden in the tiny liquid droplets of the vapor, where it hadn't been detected before," says lead researcher David Peyton, a chemistry professor at Portland State University in Oregon. "It has the potential to distribute deeply into the lungs and collect there."

The second study showed that e-cigarette vapors directly harm human lung tissue. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found that when the aerosol produced by heated liquid nicotine hits lung cells, it churns up disease-causing free radicals and triggers marked inflammation; they also found the presence of up to six times the level of heavy metals, like copper. What's more, they discovered that various flavor additives, which are often added to e-cigs, cause additional oxidative damage to lung tissue. This isn't after years of e-cig use, either. The negative effects "occurred after a few days of vaping," he says. "Chronic exposure may lead to even more damage."

These findings add to the fast-amassing stack of research revealing the many potential hazards of e-cigarettes. Since these smokeless devices are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, they can contain any number of toxins, carcinogens, or other mystery chemicals. And because e-cigarettes are so new, the long-term health consequences of using them are unknown.

Even so, many people assume that, compared to regular tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs are the lesser of two evils. But that's not necessarily the case, says Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and a spokesman for the American Association for Cancer Research. "In the oncology community, we feel they are both evil," he says. "The big concern with e-cigarettes is lung tissue damage. Regular cigarette smoke contains 60 to 80 known carcinogens, which makes it very bad for the lungs too. However, hot e-cigarette vapor going straight to the lungs can cause actual burning and injury. It's a different type of damage — but it's still significant."

And that's just their immediate impact. "We still don't know the long-term effects that e-cigarettes can have on the body," Herbst says. "There is still so much to learn about them."
Herbst also thinks e-cigs are an unproven and even detrimental smoking cessation tool — which is, of course, a huge reason why people puff on them. "I treat people with lung cancer, so certainly my goal is to stop people from smoking," he says. "But these devices deliver such high concentrations of nicotine that they get people very addicted to the drug. If you need help with smoking cessation, there are other, FDA-approved forms of nicotine, such patches or lozenges, that would much better than e-cigarettes."
And because e-cigs crank out so much nicotine, Herbst also fears that they can be a gateway to tobacco cigarettes. "E-cigarettes are very expensive, so we worry that people will start on them, get addicted to nicotine, and then move on to regular cigarettes, which are generally less expensive and easier to get," he adds.


California ads highlight vaping dangers

California has taken another step in its campaign against electronic cigarettes, with the Department of Public Health on Friday releasing video advertisements calling the devices toxic and warning they are being marketed to kids.

While cigarette use has plummeted in California and nationwide as the dangers of tobacco have become well known, electronic cigarettes – also known as e-cigarettes – have emerged in recent years as a popular alternative. Vaping lounges, in which customers can sample different flavors of the liquid within vaping devices, have sprung up around Sacramento.

Public health officials have sounded the alarm, emphasizing that e-cigarettes contain both addictive nicotine and chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects. They warn that the sweet flavors contained in vaping devices, which function by heating a chemical liquid into a mist that can be inhaled, appeal to young Californians.

“California has been a world leader in tobacco use prevention and cessation since 1990, with one of the lowest youth and adult smoking rates in the nation,” California Department of Public Health director Karen Smith said in a written statement. “The aggressive marketing and escalating use of e-cigarettes threatens to erode that progress.”

The new television spots suggest that e-cigarette makers are intentionally targeting young people. They compare e-cigarette purveyors to a tobacco industry that has been demonized for long concealing or downplaying the health hazards of cigarettes.

One, entitled “Kids Aren’t Alright,” displays images of young people with e-cigarettes and the text “for the next generation to be hooked by big tobacco.”

In “What Could Go Wrong,” an image of cigarette packs gives way to the words “lung cancer” and the claim that vaping is as addictive as heroin.

“There’s a lot the e-cig industry isn’t telling us about vaping,” the ad says.

Vaping industry representatives argue that their product gives smokers a way to wean from cigarettes with a healthier alternative. Gregory Conley, president of an industry-funded advocacy group called the American Vaping Association, said he used vaping to kick an eight-year cigarette habit. He also linked a rise in teen vaping to fewer teens smoking cigarettes.

“Regrettably, this campaign by the California Department of Public Health will actually protect cigarette markets by discouraging adult smokers from quitting smoking with a smoke-free product,” Conley said.

The chemicals in e-cigarettes exist in non-harmful amounts, Conley said. He called public health officials hypocritical for assailing flavored e-cigarettes without applying the same pressure to alcohol products.

“You do not see the Department of Public Health running ads about how the liquor industry is marketing flavored spirits – if you walk into a liquor store, you can find cotton candy vodka,” Conley said. “I quit with watermelon flavor” vaping, he added, “and there are multiple studies showing adult smokers – the people who are dying by the hundreds of thousands every year – they find flavors very helpful in getting off cigarettes.”


Ecig vaping and side effects

Just about any substance introduced to the body can cause side effects – whether it’s ingested, inhaled or even just touched. The eliquids used in association with vaping are no different.

However, it can be hard to pin down exactly what the side effects of the liquid can be – or whether anything being experienced is actually from vaping.

This is because when we stop smoking, regardless of the method, our bodies undergo major changes during a readjustment period.

“Cold turkey” quitting side effects

Many people who quit cold turkey without any sort of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) report all sorts of strange physical effects, including:

  • “Quit zits”
  • Bleeding gums,
  • Susceptibility to colds, the flu
  • Various skin issues
  • Anxiety
  • An increase in coughing (a good sign usually)
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry throat

Side effects of vaping

While many people appear to have a side-effect free experience with ecigs, aside from the general issues with continuing the usage of nicotine, the following are some of the side effects that may occur while vaping that can probably be attributed to in whole or part to vaping. These tend to be temporary.

  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Rash/burning sensation on face
  • Itchiness
  • Puffy/dry eyes
  • Caffeine sensitivity
  • Minor blood nose issues

The dry mouth side effect is very common due to the nature of eliquids.

One of the major components of most eliquids is polyethylene glycol, more commonly referred to as PG.

As well as eliquids, PG is also widely used in pharmaceutical and personal care products. One of PG’s attributes is that is it a hygroscopic liquid; meaning it attracts and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment; such as your mouth.

The dry mouth side effect is usually easily rectified by increasing water intake; i.e. small sips of water often. This doesn’t mean to say you’ll necessarily be sipping water non-stop, just that your water consumption may increase.

The dry skin issue can often be addressed with a hypo-allergenic moisturiser until such time that the body adjusts.

What appears to be a minority of people suffer minor blood noses. Again, this could be due to the drying effect of eliquids; particularly if they are high in PG.

In all the reports I’ve seen, the issue rectifies itself. Something that may help is to not exhale ecigarette vapors through the nose; particularly during the initial weeks.

Sometimes side effects may occur due to simply vaping too much and will disappear when ecigarette use is reduced.

In other instances, it may not be the ecigarette at all, but how your body is now reacting to other substances.

For example, I found after a few days into my electronic cigarette journey, I was getting a little anxious at times – just very brief flashes. I was concerned I wasn’t vaping enough, or too much. It was neither.

It turned out that how my body was now reacting to caffeine was the the culprit. After I reduced my caffeine intake (I used to drink at least gallon of strong coffee a day); this symptom disappeared immediately. I still enjoy coffee and reducing my consumption of it certainly hasn’t done me any harm.

Other reactions may occur due to an allergy to any or all of the ingredients of eliquid – such as the propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine, flavourings or the nicotine itself. Adjusting levels of any component can sometimes bring relief.

As mentioned, some who have reported mild side effects have persisted with vaping and found the issues disappear after a short while without taking any sort of action. Others find they worsen; however it does appear rare for people to have to cease vaping altogether due to side effects.


What E Liquid Mix?

E liquid mixes

E liquid is commonly comprised of 4 ingredients. These are – Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, Nicotine and flavourings. Flavourings and nicotine are both constants, meaning a fixed volume is added to each e liquid mix. The variable components – propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin can then be added in different ratios to produce varying vaping outputs. Follow our PG guide and VG guide for more information on these products.


E liquid containing only PG – most common with premade cartridges and look alike products (commonly known as “cigalikes”) you find in your local convenience store – is the least viscous of e liquids and produces the least amount of vapour.


  • Delivers nicotine more efficiently
  • Outstanding throat hit
  • Less nicotine is needed to produce a good throat hit
  • Least likely of all e liquids to cause a burnt or dry hit
  • Most discrete of all e liquids due to its low vapour production
  • Produces the most realistic or manufacturer designed flavour – PG is flavourless
  • Quickest of all e liquids to steep due to its low viscosity


  • The most likely to cause throat irritations, allergy reactions and a general unwell feeling, those with even slight sensitivity to PG will react badly to 100% PG
  • May flood certain atomizers due to its low viscosity and cause leaks – especially in hot weather!
  • Produces a weak vapour

100% VG

E liquid containing only VG is the most viscous of e liquid and produces the most vapour. This is the least popular product sold by vendors for many reasons. Firstly though, let’s look at the Pro’s.


  • Gentle throat hit, ideal for those of you who previously smoked “ultra light” cigarettes
  • The smoothest of e liquids
  • Heavy vapour production – produce clouds of vapour
  • Least likely of all e liquids to cause irritation or allergy reactions


  • Least efficient at delivering nicotine – typically users would add a strength up in nicotine to compensate
  • The weakest throat hit. Those familiar and enjoy this, maybe disappointed with 100% VG
  • Sweetens e liquid – this may make sense for some e liquid flavours, but tobacco e liquids may become too sweet
  • Causes vapour to linger – vaping discreetly or during a flight? Do not use 100% VG!
  • The most likely e liquid mix to cause burnt or dry hits – this is less likely to occur though with bottom coil atomizers i.e. the Kanger EVOD and more likely to occur in colder weather
  • Takes a long time to steep – 1 week+

It is our advice to try different mixes prior to trying 100% VG e liquid. Unless you have known allergy symptoms or are particularly against vaping PG we recommend the best mix to start with is a 50% VG 50%PG blend.

70% PG 30% VG

This e liquid mix was a popular standard a while back and even today, a common mix for many pre-made e cig refill liquid – this and 80% / 20%. This mix provides most of the 100% PG advantages, but produces more vapour.


  • Absorbs nicotine efficiently
  • Great throat hit
  • Less likely to cause a burnt or dry hit
  • Produces a close match to manufacturer’s intended flavour.
  • Short steeping time
  • All this with excellent vapour production


  • Still likely to cause throat irritations, allergy reactions and a general unwell feeling
  • Will still flood certain atomizers due to its lower viscosity and cause leaks – especially in hotter weather

50% PG 50% VG

A perfect balance between the two, the “Jack of all trades” if you will.


  • Absorbs nicotine efficiently
  • Good throat hit
  • Less likely to cause a burnt or dry hit
  • Moderate steeping time
  • Great vapour production
  • Adequate throat hit
  • A smooth e liquid
  • Excellent vapour production – that doesn’t linger


  • Still likely to cause throat irritations, allergy reactions and a general unwell feeling if you have high sensitivity to PG
  • Will still sweeten e liquids slightly due to the VG content
  • Not many manufacturers produce 50% / 50% , so harder to find

Our Advice

Choosing a supplier that offers your preferred e liquid ingredients can be time consuming and expensive. Most electronic cigarette vendors will offer e liquid mixes at their preferred mix ratio or the preferred percentages their supplier provides them. Few companies offer the flexibility companies like trueVAPE does due to the time and extra costs involved preparing custom orders.

Generally speaking, the majority will be fine with any e liquid mix ratio and we thoroughly recommend a 50% PG / 50% VG as good starting point for those new to vaping. While harder to come by, the good news is… we sell it!

When vaping, pay attention to any signs of discomfort, sore throats, rashes, stomach pains. Should any of these occur you will most likely have a high sensitivity to PG. It is recommended in this circumstance to move over to 100% VG e liquid mixes. If you feel ill, vomit or suffer headaches, stop vaping immediately! And lie down until it passes. You will most likely have suffered from a very mild form of nicotine poisoning. In this case, either vape less or lower your nicotine strength.


Industry is smoking mad over proposed e-cig tax in Ohio

Cost of products would more than triple, which could crush businesses

Jill Adams says that Gov. John Kasich will put her new store out of business if his new tax proposal becomes law.It's not the oil and gas severance tax or even the proposed increase in the state sales tax that has her concerned, though. It's a proposed new tax on e-cigarettes and, in the eyes of folks like Adams, it's a death sentence.


The governor is proposing to tax e-cigarettes or, more specifically, the liquid that makes them work, the way cigarettes are taxed. He's also proposing an increase in the tax on cigarettes, but while the cigarette tax would go up by 60%, under the Kasich proposal the cost of their products would more than triple.

“My $7 bottle of liquid (15 ml), if this passes, will be $24.82. My 30ml bottle, which is $15.95 now, will go up to $49.75,” Adams said.

Meanwhile, vapers could buy their liquid from online retailers for much less. Popular liquids such as Johnson Creek sell for about $17 per 30ml bottle and even expensive premium brands, such as Five Pawns generally sell for less than $30.

The new tax would be more than just a burden on her Palm Beach Vapors store in North Ridgeville, which just opened in February and has enjoyed strong sales so far, she said. It would shut her down.

“The closest (other e-cigarette) store to me is about five and a half miles away, so I don't have a whole lot of competition around me, but this tax would put me out of business,” Adams said. “I'm handing out pamphlets to everyone who walks in here to tell them to go out and oppose this tax.”

She's not alone, as the Ways and Means Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives found out last Wednesday, March 4, when it held a public hearing on the issue.

The topic drew plenty of opposition, most of whom remained in the gallery while three speakers voiced the concerns of the “vaping” community, said Adam Schwiebert, legislative aid to Upper Sandusky Republican Jeff McClain, who heads the Ways and Means Committee.

One of those speakers was Frank Cahall, head of operations for Ohio-based Altsmoke.com, which has retail stores in New Philadelphia, Columbus, Cincinnati, Canton, Springfield, Gahanna and South Euclid. Like Adams, Cahall said the governor's proposed tax would put his company's stores out of business.

“We employ roughly 100 Ohioans in good-paying, full- and part-time jobs. All of our positions begin above minimum wage,” Cahall told the committee. “In the simplest of terms, if the governor's proposed tax increase on tobacco, and specifically the inclusion of vapor products in that tax, becomes law, you will be closing Altsmoke stores and will be sending our employees back to the unemployment line.”

Altsmoke is probably the biggest e-cigarette retailer in Ohio, with a national presence online as well. But it's not the only one.

Rick Dice, owner of a chain called E-Cignificance, says his stores in Parma, Mayfield Heights, Canton, Alliance and Massillon employ more than 20 people so far and estimates there are probably 200 or more people working at his stores and other chains.

“Everyone in Ohio is just going to buy their liquid out of state,” if the new tax becomes a reality, predicts Dice.

Dice also thinks the new tax, if passed, will kill his business.

Not only would he have to charge customers at his five Ohio stores the tax, but he would also have to apply the tax to his larger online business, he said. Meanwhile, Ohio “vapers,” as they're known, likely would buy their supplies from out-of-state vendors that don't charge the tax, he said.

Waiting to exhale

The topic is heating up among e-cigarette users and vendors. The American Vaping Association, an industry trade group, accused the governor of attempting to prevent Ohioans from quitting smoking. It claims the taxes on e-cigarettes are being raised more than the taxes on cigarettes, under the governor's proposal.“Gov. Kasich's plan to enact sin taxes on the sale of smoke-free vapor products is far worse than originally feared. ... This tax would actually amount to well over 150% of retail price. Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich is only seeking to increase the tax on smoked tobacco products like cigars and loose tobacco to 60% of wholesale price,” the association said in a statement last month.

It remains to be seen if legislators will line up behind the governor to snuff out e-cigarettes in Ohio. Schwiebert said most legislators, including his boss, still are studying the issue, in part because e-cigarettes are still a relatively new phenomenon.Adams said about half of her customers have told her that they'll simply go back to cigarettes, which she contends are far more dangerous, if e-cigarettes become too expensive. Currently, e-cigarette makers market their products as costing about the same, or a little less, than smoking regular cigarettes, but the costs varies depending upon the hardware that users buy to produce vapor from the liquid.

Cahall predicts Ohioans will simply either drive across state lines or buy e-cigarette supplies online if the tax is enacted.

“There is no question about this,” Cahall told the committee. “Why would savvy consumers pay double for a product if they know they can make a short trip across the border or buy online where the tax is not enforced? This proposed tax will not curb usage, but it will curb sales in Ohio and repercussions will be felt at the local level, severely affecting store owners and their employees.”

One thing's for sure: The fight is not over. The measure is part of Ohio's general operating budget, contained in House Bill 64. That bill also has other contentious issues being debated in Columbus, such as an increase on the severance tax for oil and gas drilling, and lawmakers have until the start of the next fiscal year on July 1 to vote on it.

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