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June 7, 2013

VIDEO: New establishments offer safer solution to smoking, create social atmosphere

CHICKASHA —

A 2010 census from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention found that 24.7 percent of the adult population in Oklahoma smokes.

The state ranks 47th in the nation, in regards to smoking mortality rates with 6,200 dying each year from smoking related diseases.

It's an epidemic in Oklahoma, but technological innovation and social ingenuity have some residents fighting fire with different sort of flame.

E-cigerettes arrived on the scene in 2007, marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking. and as of last week, two lounges touting the safety of vaping opened in Chickasha.

Owner of The Vapor Lounge on 4th Street, Shawn Tran, said he has always enjoyed vaping and when the opportunity to open a store presented itself, he took it.

"Vaping is a healthy alternative for people who smoke cigarettes," Tran said. "All it is, is water vapor, nicotine and some flavoring."

According to an article on howstuffworks.com, electronic cigarettes are designed to look just like regular cigarettes, but with one major difference, you don't need a match or lighter to use them.

The device holds a battery holds, a vaporization chamber and a cartridge filled with liquid nicotine in order to satisfy cravings.

"The benefit of vaping over cigarettes, is you don't smoke the 5,000 chemicals that come with cigarettes," Tran said.

Vaping isn't solely for smokers looking to kick the habit.

Tran said he has many customers who vape just for fun.

"There's a bunch of flavors like chocolate, strawberry and blueberry, so you can mix it up," he said.

A typically cigarette has 24 milligrams of nicotine in it, said Tran ,who offers products with nicotine amounts ranging from zero to the industry standard.

Respondents to a question on The Express-Star's Facebook on vaping varied.

"My husband started using these and quit," wrote Lyndi Wilkerson Douglass. "I am so happy that he started this, it's so much better than cigarettes, he's already gotten some of his senses back he had lost, and he smells much better!"

Some were a little more wary of the new craze.

"Until we know for sure I still do not want to inhale this smoke! I agree it is a better option and I support people choosing this option! Just not ready to see open smoking of these yet," wrote Heather Cocheran Ford.

Others are convinced  the vapor has to be just as volatile to a person's health as tobacco.

"Vapor is not safe," Gary Higgins wrote. "You're breathing in sweet smelling chemicals in your lungs. The data on this new trend isn't complete yet. Be careful of this. It's not only water."

Despite the criticism, Tran said he develops plans for costumers to move away from tobacco use, with the aide vaping and will continue to do so.

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