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Are vapes good, bad or in between?

This article, published in the Bennington Banner 1/16/15, looks at E-cigs and vaping. Thank you Keith Whitcomb for reaching out to The Collaborative and for writing an informed article.

Vapes become more popular, but raise questions among professionals

By Keith Whitcomb Jr.

kwhitcomb@ @kwhitcombjr on Twitter

POSTED:   01/16/2015 03:53:51 PM EST

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are growing in popularity… (Tim Ireland — The associated press)

BENNINGTON >> More smokers are trading in their cigarettes for “vape” products, but claims they can be used to quit nicotine altogether have not been proven. Still, the products are becoming more popular.

When Ed Dublois bought the Beverage Den and Smoke Shop on North Street in Bennington, Vt., a little over a year ago, E-cigarette products were already being sold.

“But not to the magnitude we have now, there was just a very small sampling,” Dublois said. “We’ve expanded the department, so to speak, probably 5,000 to 10,000 percent.”

When the products first started to become available, “E-cigarette” was the term many were using, but because the devices use vapor the term “vape” is more common. He said there are three main vape products one can buy. Vape pens, which take “juices,” can be bought for about $25. There are other devices, called “E-hookahs,” that are disposable after a few hundred “hits.”

E-cigarettes, themselves, are the size of a normal cigarette and the vapors come in menthol flavor and different levels of nicotine.

“Some manufacturers will offer those down to no nicotine, as well,” he said.

The juices for the vape pens come in almost any flavor one can think of. People can also buy juices with varying levels of nicotine.

“What’s good about that is, if you have someone who’s a full-time cigarette smoker, they can get a vape product and start out with the normal nicotine level, then you can notch down, and go down to zero. Now, it’s all-natural fruit juices with water vapor.”

He said many of the people buying these products say that is the main reason they are switching.

It’s this ability to control the level of nicotine that appears to be the source of one of the main controversies surrounding the product, that being: Can it be used as a tool to quit smoking?

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any of these products for that use, said Victoria Silsby, tobacco coordinator for The Collaborate, a private non-profit group serving the Northshire that works to reduce substance abuse in youth. Because the FDA has not approved vape products as quitting tools, no group such as hers will recommend them for that. Moreover, the marketing being done for them seems heavily geared toward getting people to take up nicotine use, not put it down, she said.

Dublois said another reason people are switching from cigarettes to vape is the cost. A starter kit being a one-time expense, the juice containers run about $10 each. Depending on how heavily a person uses the vape product, one container can last as long as one or two cartons of cigarettes would. A carton being $80 each, the savings is significant.

The Beverage Den plans to expand its selection even further in the coming weeks, all because of customer demand.

The industry itself is growing and changing quickly, Dublois said. “Every couple of weeks, we’re hearing something new about something slightly different coming out.”

One of the most popular vape juices, he said, is from Vermont Vapor, a company based in Castleton, Vt.

“There are some kids who are going to start smoking,” Dublois said. “We’d rather they didn’t, but there are some that are just going to start smoking. The only shining light that exists is the fact there is a product here, and I don’t think anyone is going to profess to say this is healthy, like eating an organic apple or something, but compared to cigarettes? This is a much more sensible alternative.”

He said his store only carries products made in the United States. “And that’s key, because there’s a lot made in China and it’s not as regulated.”

Collette Dublois, co-owner of The Beverage Den, said the uncertainty about what regulations the FDA will impose has also driven a reliance on American-made products.

She said many of the people buying vapes are switching from cigarettes, but some are new to nicotine products entirely.

Silsby said nicotine gum and patches come with FDA-approved guidelines on how wean oneself off nicotine. Vape products do not, and the concern is people looking to quit are just replacing one addiction behavior with another. She said there is also little scientific data on how safe the vapor being inhaled actually is, both for the user and those experiencing it second-hand.

Maryann Morris, of the Collaborative, said while there has been anecdotal evidence of people quitting using vapes, there have been no solid studies showing they work for that purpose. She said the Collaborative wants people to quit using whatever works, but until more is known, they do not support vape products and are concerned the alleged benefits will draw young people toward nicotine.

Jim Carroll of Bennington said he was sent an E-cigarette for Christmas and the main reason he had switched has been cost.

“Smoking was just becoming too expensive,” he said.

Carroll said he smoked two, sometimes three, packs per day, his brand costing more than $6 per pack.

“The savings has been undeniable,” he said.

Carroll said he does not use the E-cigarette as much as he smoked, and feels it has done something to alleviate cravings. Before, he would wake up in the middle of the night to smoke a cigarette. He still wakes up, but more often than not forgoes using the E-cigarette.

While he does not think the product is healthy, and the vapor makes him cough more than cigarette smoke did, overall he feels better.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567, Ext. 115.


Martin Luther King Jr Day

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What Heroin Addiction Tells Us About Changing Bad Habits

A perspective on how to successfully break bad habits by looking at addiction.


This is Your Brain on Drugs

An article printed in the New York Times October 29, 2014.
What to consider if your teen uses…
1) THC mean levels have risen 10% since 1995
2) THC content varies from 8% to 70% depending on what you use
3) THC may affect memory, focus, motivation, and decision making
4) Smoking/using marijuana may lower one’s IQ

To learn more,


VT Counters Tobacco Companies’ Influence on Youth

How are tobacco companies targeting VT youth?

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Considering Giving Alcohol as a Gift… Read On

Dear Abby 1/27/2011 As printed in the Abilene Reporter-News
POSTED: 10:30 PM, Jan 26, 2011
TAG: columns (/topic/columns) | columnists (/topic/columnists)

Dear Abby: You advised “Susan in Southern Oregon” (Dec. 1), who asked about the
appropriateness of giving alcohol as a gift at an office party, that “the only time that alcohol
would be an inappropriate gift is when the giver knows the recipient doesn’t use it.” As a
former psychiatric social worker, I would say that the only time alcohol would be an
APPROPRIATE gift is when the giver knows the recipient would use it, and do so responsibly.
People aren’t always forthcoming about their views and experiences regarding alcohol, so it’s
best to play it safe. Many people abstain from alcohol because they are recovering alcoholics
or have seen the devastating results that alcoholism has had on a loved one’s life. Others have
religious reasons for not imbibing.
Giving alcohol as a gift may not only dismay the recipient, it could also lead to worse results if
the giftee is someone who is struggling to stay sober.— Amy in Dover, Del.
Dear Amy: You have raised many valid points. Most of my readers disagreed with my answer,
and their reasons have made me reconsider my advice to Susan. I was wrong. (Mea culpa.)
Read on:
Dear Abby: Imagine receiving a bottle of alcohol after growing up in a home with an abusive
father who drank. Not only would you not want it, you wouldn’t want to give it to anyone else.
Imagine receiving a bottle of alcohol after having lost a child in an automobile accident
caused by a drunken driver. Would you want that reminder, or would you want to regift it to
someone who might get drunk with that bottle and cause someone else’s death?— Joe in
Birmingham, Ala.
Dear Abby: Many alcoholics choose not to reveal their disease. It is called Alcoholics
Anonymous for a reason. A person may have been in recovery for many years and may not
wish to tell anyone except close family and longtime friends.A gift of alcohol would be a temptation to any recovering alcoholic, one that is hard to resist.
The mind can easily rationalize: “It was a gift. I might as well get rid of it. I can share it with
others, so it’s not so bad.” The slope grows steeper from there.— Anonymous in San Antonio
Dear Abby: Have you any idea what it is like to get knocked across a room because you asked
your daddy to play with you? Have you seen your Christmas tree knocked over because your
mother and father were having a fistfight?
My father owned one of the largest businesses in our town. We belonged to the country club.
Yet my parents died in poverty because of alcohol. Of the four siblings, I am the only one who
doesn’t have an alcohol abuse problem.
I am frequently asked to attend functions so I can be the designated driver. I think the slogan
“Friends don’t let friends drink and drive” should be changed to “Real friends don’t try to shift
their responsibility.”— A Survivor in Las Vegas
Dear Abby: Twenty years ago, I would have agreed with your answer. I am the president of a
construction company, and it was standard practice for us to give alcohol at Christmas to a
number of our customers.
Then one day, I received a call from a tearful woman who asked if we had given alcohol to her
husband. When I answered yes, she said that in the future, she would appreciate it if we
wouldn’t do that anymore. Her husband, an alcoholic, had consumed the entire bottle, gone
home and beaten her up. We discontinued the practice immediately.
I would not advise people to gift alcohol unless they know the recipient very well and know it
will not cause harm to him or her, or those around them.— Safer in Tennessee
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