GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's a smoking hot trend sweeping the nation, electronic cigarettes or now known as vaping. Smokers see it as a way to kick their habit but could it also be a way to encourage kids to start smoking?
E- Cigarettes have become increasinly popular over the last few years. Several retail vape shops have popped up around northeast Wisconsin, but the verdict is still out on these strange devices and it has critics growing uneasy.
"It's hard to get worse than a regular cigarette."
Something Jay Demeny of Green Bay knows all too well addicted to cigarettes for sometime. Looking for alternatives to help kick the habit.
"I'm tired of waking up in the morning."
"There's no tar."
"Coughing my brains out."
"No second-hand smoke."
"Not being able to breathe when I go up the stairs."
David and Debra hammond, co-owners of EZ Vapes in Ashwaubenon have a solution. Electronic Cigarettes.
"They call 2013, the year of the Electronic Cigarette," says David Hammond.
Battery powered devices, heating a liquid- filled cartridge, allowing the user to inhale aerosol vapor. Components of the blend vary which typically includes nicotine. Users can taper off their intake of nicotine to a fraction of what they were previously consuming.
"More and more people coming in and asking about how they can quit. Everybody is willing to try something," says Debra Hammond.
"Wish they had come up with it a lot sooner," says Demeny.
"Has four simple ingredients. Each of the four are FDA approved," says David Hammond.
Public awareness increasing.The Hammonds opening their shop in March. Sold 50 starter kits the first month. In October sold more than 300.
"We could help people and explain the technology to them," says David Hammond.
But are they really that much better?
The FDA has yet to put forth regulations on E-Cigarettes. The American Cancer Society says users can not be sure what they are inhaling, with a lack of scientific data on the product.
"There could be long-term health effects, short-term health effects. Just we don't know about it yet," says Dr. Richard Pott.
Prevea is already treating a number of people with chronic lung disease from smoking traditional cigarettes.
Dr. Richard Potts concerned flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy could be used to encourage minors to smoke. The use of E-Cigarettes among 6th to 12th grade students has doubled in a year.
"Concern that people that normally wouldn't smoke cigarettes because they're perhaps too expensive would pick up an E-Cigarette and become addicted to nicotine."
But at the EZ Vapes shop, the Hammonds have an age limit. No one under 18.
"Our goal is not to market to kids and to get kids started vaping. Our goal is to help people that are already smoking maybe find an alternative."
And even with the word still out on vaping, Demeny has proof of his success.
"I'm able to breath more. I've already come down one strength. Another Friday I'll be going down another strength and after that we're done."
And with tobacco responsible for six million deaths a year worldwide, could this be the alternative that helps smokers kick the habit?
We'll wait and see.
Click here to learn more about e-cigarettes from the American Cancer Society.