The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

March 10, 2014

E-cigarettes: fresh air or smoke and mirrors?

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Some vapers, like Hopkins and Gallagher, find fun in tinkering with the paraphernalia. Denholtz likens them to older DIY enthusiasts who once whiled away their time on Heathkits, those all-inclusive boxes of parts that could be turned into TV receivers, amateur radios or stereo speakers.

"There's a whole subculture coming up. They're very into all of the different devices. They rewire and rebuild and use different materials for drawing up the juice. It's unbelievable what they've turned it into," he said.

Denholtz and others said vaping, to many, is merely a less harmful activity than tobacco smoking that duplicates the most pleasurable aspects and offers a communal feel like hookah use and cigar bars.

Xavier Armand, 25, has been vaping for a little more than three years and owns an advertising and marketing firm that is helping Henley put together a "liquid of the month club," along the lines of mail-order fruit of the month.

"I always kind of knew smoking was bad for me. My mom was a smoker, but I was never going to look into the patch or the gum or anything," Armand said. "At the end of the day, the best part about smoking is the smoke part. And that oral fixation is kind of a big thing as well. I consider my agency the 2014 version of 'Mad Men.' We all sit around there and instead of smoking cigarettes everyone is smoking e-cigs."

Much as movie stars made tobacco smoking seem glamorous in the 1930s and '40s, celebrities have helped fuel interest in vaping.

At the Golden Globes, Leonardo DiCaprio was shown vaping away in the audience. The actor told The Associated Press recently he vapes to "relieve the stress of life."

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