Earlier this year, the city of Oroville enacted a measure classifying e-cigarettes under the same restrictions as regular cigarettes. The move comes due to e-cigarettes becoming more and more popular.
Many people are flicking their cigarette butts and switch to e-cigarettes. They've been growing in popularity across the country with sales surging from about 50,000 in 2008 to 3.5 million in 2012. Local shops in the north state say they've seen this increase in demand. "We've seen a huge increase in sales on the electronic cigarettes. The disposable ones and the liquid refills. We've been carrying them for a over a year now (and seen) at least 30-40% increase in sales,” said Chazzy Chaz, Manager of Blaze ‘N J’s in Chico. Before putting these products in their shelves, they research the safety of the e-cigarettes. “We're not about making money and hurting people at the same time. We do investigations on all our products before we sell anything," he said.
Users like Thomas Martinez say the e-cigarettes have helped him come a long wave from the days where he smoked three packs a day. The “advanced personal vaporizer”, as he likes to call it, has changed his life. "I can smell better. I can taste everything that I’m eating now and my tastes have changed too. Everything’s not bland anymore," explained Martinez. Switching to e-cigarettes has made it easier on his wallet too. "When you first get started, it's expensive to buy the pieces but once you buy everything and go along with it, it's a lot cheaper," he said.
Health officials say they're not yet sold on the e-cigarettes. "While some people in the community believe an e-cigarette is less harmful, we're mostly concerned because we don't know precisely what is in the vapor that comes out of e cigarettes. We know that there are carcinogens just like tobacco smoke," explained Raul Roygoza, Public Health Education Specialist for Butte County Public Health.
While health officials are concerned about the unknowns of the new trend, users say they're thankful for the alternative. "I think it's definitely saved my life," said Martinez.
Since electronic cigarettes are still unregulated by the FDA, health officials are hoping that continued research will help them understand it more.