Businesses Limit Tobacco Products for E-Cig Alternative

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COLUMBIA - Local smoke shops are adjusting to the growing demand for electronic cigarettes and are cutting back on the tobacco products they sell.  Meanwhile, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is one of 40 asking the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes like other tobacco products.

Nicholas Fulton is a sales associate for Grass Roots Smoke Shop on North Tenth St. He said the demand for e-cigarettes has significantly increased since last spring and the business has adjusted to the change. 

"We're just trying to fit the demand for the market," Fulton said. "And right now the demand is these pens because they're cool, innovative and come with warranties."

Fulton claims that Grass Roots cut back on the amount of tobacco products it sold and Fulton said he thinks the industry will suffer in Columbia. 

"Most people are going to start figuring out that the e-cigarettes are a healthier option and the cheaper option in the long run," Fulton said. 

Aqueous Vapor is a new business that sells only vapor based smoking products. It opened on June 1 and manager Becca Schranck said its products are safer. 

"Cigarettes and a lot of tobacco products have chemicals added to them that are bad for your health and these e-cigarettes don't have those harmful chemicals," Schranck said. "Our goal is to help people quit smoking so selling tobacco wouldn't really encourage that."

She said the business is growing with the demand of the product.

"It's slowly growing by word of mouth because people try it and like it," Schranck said. "They are realizing it's not only better for your health, but that it's also more enjoyable."

Schranck said that she thinks and hopes the vapor alternatives will put tobacco companies out of business. 

"We're here to help people quit smoking becuase it's a lot better for them, so I'm hoping our products ends up taking over tobacco and kind of putting them out of business," Schranck said. 

A letter written by 40 states' attorney generals to the FDA states e-cigarettes are being marketed to children through cartoon-like advertising characters and by offering fruit and candy flavors, much like cigarettes were once marketed to hook new smokers.

The letter also stated health effects of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied and the ingredients are not regulated.