The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

March 10, 2014

E-cigarettes: fresh air or smoke and mirrors?

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The Wills are into rebuilding tanks and rewiring coils, scouting new e-liquid flavors and adjusting their devices, which can cost up to $300 at Henley, to allow for more vapor, more flavor. But the co-owners of Henley count older smokers among their clientele as well.

E-cigarettes are usually made of metal parts combined with plastic or glass and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They heat the liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that quickly dissipates when exhaled. The vapor looks like tobacco smoke and can feel like tobacco smoke when taken into the lungs at varying strengths, from no nicotine up to 24 milligrams or more.

In 2006, sellers of all things vape worked primarily online or via kiosks in shopping malls. Now there are more than 250 brands and devices that can cost mere dollars for a case of "cigalikes," which resemble the real thing, to a gold-and-diamond unit the size of a fountain pen that was reportedly made for a Russian oil tycoon and cost about $900,000.

Whether vaping is cheaper than a cigarette habit is up to how much is spent on equipment and liquids and how often one vapes. A 15-milliliter bottle of liquid at Henley can go for $12 and may be roughly the equivalent of four packs of cigarettes, depending on the strength of both liquid and leaf cigarette, among other factors like how many puffs a smoker takes in. Rechargeable devices require batteries — another expense — and a starter kit for reuse that comes with a device can run around $66.

By comparison, the cost of a 20-cigarette pack of regular cigarettes can range from about $5 to about $15, depending on state tax and the type of location where they're purchased.

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet stepped in to regulate e-cigs — and their amped-up marketing — but that's likely to happen as some cities and states have already moved to ban public use the way they do tobacco.

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