North Texas Daily

E-cigarettes make their way to Denton

E-cigarettes make their way to Denton

E-cigarettes make their way to Denton
October 01
08:11 2013

John Jacob Hough / Contributing Writer

In the front corner of Voertman’s bookstore, five new shiny display cases and glass shelves have taken residence. The shelves are stocked with an array of oddly shaped electronics and blue vials.

When all the pieces are gathered – a battery, a heating element, a fluid tank, and a mouthpiece – they come together to make an e-cigarette.

With the start of the smoke-free campus policy in January, the demand for this smokeless alternative to tobacco cigarettes has risen for vendors in Denton. The policy states that e-cigarettes are still allowed as long as they are used outdoors and at least 25 feet from any entryway.

One of the newest e-cigarette businesses, Life Vapors, recently opened stores near campus in hopes of fulfilling the new demand. The Aubrey-based company now has sections inside Voertman’s on West Hickory Street and in the Campus Bookstore on Avenue C.

“Once we found out that UNT was smoke-free, it was common sense to open up our stores,” Life Vapors manager Crystal Allcorn said. “We wanted to make sure that we were within walking distance of everyone on campus.”

An average unit costs about $30, and some of the higher-end devices can cost anywhere from $50 to $100.  However, Allcorn and her father Life Vapors owner Gail Cooper said selling e-cigarettes is not just about making money.

“Our sales approach is that we get you to buy an e-cigarette so that you stop smoking regular cigarettes,” Cooper said. “And then we want you to eventually stop buying e-cigarette products from us.”

Life Vapors started a little more than a year ago when Allcorn told her father about her success in quitting traditional cigarettes by using e-cigarettes. Cooper, a former smoker himself, decided that the reported health benefits and potential markets justified the need to start the company.

“We opened up here to get the kids off of cigarettes,” Cooper said. “I don’t know how successful we’re going to be, but I just hope that we can get them to think about what they’re choosing when they smoke cigarettes.”

Unlike traditional tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes aren’t actually “smoked.” The mechanism heats a flavored liquid, commonly known as “juice,” which is then inhaled as a vapor. The juice usually contains a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, natural flavor and varying concentrations of nicotine.

This mixture lacks most of the harmful chemicals involved in traditional cigarettes, with the exception of nicotine.

But Allcorn said that pure nicotine alone is only about as harmful as caffeine. Despite this, Allcorn routinely encourages users to reduce the amount of nicotine in their juice mixtures over time.

But for some smokers, the apparent health benefits still aren’t enough to prompt a change.

“I just like smoking real cigarettes because it’s what I’ve done since high school,” applied behavior analysis senior Trevor Mills said. “But I think that e-cigarettes are a good, healthier option for people who haven’t smoked long or are just social smokers.”

Another benefit is that e-cigarettes can be used indoors because of the reduced odor and lack of smoke. However, e-cigarettes are not allowed inside buildings on campus.

Cooper said he believes the policy is counterintuitive to the purpose of e-cigarettes. He said more smokers would likely switch to e-cigarettes for the convenience of being allowed to smoke inside, and hopes that UNT might consider changing their policy.

Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Maureen McGuinness said that so far in this semester there haven’t been any complaints regarding e-cigarettes.

“The complaints I got last year were with people pulling them out in class,” McGuinness said. “But the only complaints I’m getting right now are about people smoking [traditional cigarettes] outside of buildings.”

McGuinness didn’t comment on whether the rules could change, but like the owners of Life Vapors, she is hopeful that e-cigarettes could be a step toward ending smoking permanently.

“I think e-cigarettes are a gateway to help those addicted to cigarettes to find a healthier mechanism to cut back,” McGuinness said. “I really just hope it helps more people.”

Life Vapors employee Crystal Allcorn arranges the various liquid solutions sold at the shop. The liquid solutions are put into an electronic cigarette that vaporizes the liquid that mimics smoking a cigarette. -Feature photo by John Jacob Hough / Contributing Photographer

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