Electronic cigarette ignites debate - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Electronic cigarette ignites debate

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Electronic cigarettes are technically smoke free, but some businesses and health experts are drawing the line to put them out.

This alternative to smoking is receiving mixed reviews in Eau Claire.

"Have the brown filter, the white battery, I mean it looks just like you're naturally smoking a cigarette and even the end lights up red," explains regional manager of Eau Claire Tobacco Shop, Jessica Hartkemeyer.

A red light leading restaurant owners and health officials to say stop.

"Electronic cigarettes, to me, is smoking.  It's the same thing, it's the same type of scene it is.  In all our restaurants where we have non-smoking areas, it will be non-smoking for electronic cigarettes," says Eau Claire restaurant owner Lisa Aspenson.

Especially when the federal government isn't controlling what's in a cloud of e-cig vapor.

"The FDA has not evaluated it for the content of nicotine or for other dangerous drugs," says Mayo Clinic Health System Nurse Practitioner, Kim Edson.

"The FDA, I think, is avoiding putting their stamp of approval on this because it's not necessarily a quit smoking device.  It can be used as a replacement that's just a little bit cheaper," says Hartkemeyer.

So what does your average e-cig contain in a puff of vapor?

"USP grade liquid nicotine, kosher certified natural and artificial flavors," says Hartkemeyer.

Much shorter than the list of ingredients in a cigarette, but still not approved by doctors.

"For the intent of stopping smoking we don't recommend it because it still promotes the behaviors of smoking," says Edson.

Because it's hard to tell if the cigarette is made with paper or plastic.

"When they first came out I did have customers say, 'Well bars asked me not to use these or restaurants because it gives the impression that we are smoking in the establishment'," says Hartkemeyer.

"So I think we'll just stay with the non-smoking trend and maybe be the first to implement it in the Eau Claire area," says Aspenson.

Instead asking smokers to step outside whether they light or ignite.

Aspenson also owns the Livery in downtown Eau Claire and says they do allow outdoor smoking for tobacco or electronic cigarettes at that location.

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