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Electronic cigarette popularity grows locally

Some local colleges move to include electronic cigarettes in campus wide 'smoke free' policies set to take effect in fall.

On the busy corridor of Shreveport Barksdale Highway there is a business that opened its doors last fall. Tiger Vapes co-owner, Kayla Kates, says she had an idea there would be a market for electronic cigarette products locally, but wasn't sure it would take off like it has.

"We didn't expect it to blow up like it has, honestly it was just three of us working here now we have five employees," she says.

Tiger Vapes sells electronic cigarettes, accessories and the liquid used used to fill them. On a daily basis new customers arrive, hoping to use 'vaping' products to quit smoking - some even referred by doctors. Nicotine levels in the fluid can be controlled, starting at 30 milligrams and stepped down to mixes that are nicotine free. Kates says nearly every customer shows progress in lowering their nicotine levels.

Worldwide the electronic cigarette/vaping industry is valued over $2-billion dollars. You have probably seen someone vaping at a restaurant, in their car or walking through town.

Louisiana law requires that secondary education institutions adopt smoke free bans but a growing number of them including LSU Shreveport plan to include 'vapor emitting devices' as part of their tobacco free policies.

Timothy P. Winter is head of the smoke free committee at LSU Shreveport. He says banning e-cigarettes along with other smokeless tobacco products was discussed in the original meeting. He says there have only been a few complaints.

"The individuals who have made that case, hey, i'm using this for smoking cessation, well my response to them is you know what? The FDA has not authorized or approved e-cigarettes as a nicotine replacement therapy," Winter explains.

Dr. Robert Holladay, an associate professor of medicine and pulmonary critical care at LSU Health Shreveport, says the jury is still out on whether there are health benefits to using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking.

"Some studies have said that there may be some benefit, some studies have said that there's really no benefit from stopping smoking." Dr. Holladay adds that the public has less sensitivity to second hand smoke and that he generally recommends his patients use traditional methods of smoking cessation.

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