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Monday, January 6, 2014 - 7:53pm
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Damon Mabry blew a large white cloud of vapor up into the air, which six months ago would have been cigarette smoke.
Mabry said he had been smoking for about 18 years and his habit had turned into a pack and a half a day.
"I don't wake up in the morning and start coughing up stuff," he said. "I'm able to smell stuff and taste a lot better."
Like countless others, Mabry has been using electronic cigarettes to help him control his nicotine cravings.
Even though the health effects are debatable, E-cigs have been rapidly growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Users of the vapor or electronic cigarettes don't typically get the unwelcome stares or remarks when out in public.
The vapor doesn't produce the same foul odor some aren't fond of when out in public.
"It's been kind of cool," Mabry said. "Most of the businesses here don't have a problem with you doing it."
Mabry said some places have flat out told him the E-cig is not allowed within their establishment but those are far and few in-between.
Elevated Vapor in Las Cruces has seen the popularity of electronic cigarettes grow considerably, it prompted owner Robert Duran to switch products from a tobacco smoke shop to strictly electronic.
The E-cigs at Duran's store use a flavored vegetable based liquid containing varying levels of nicotine.
Duran said Elevated Vapor sells 2500 different flavor combinations adjusting a smoker's nicotine intake from 0mg to 24mg depending on the person.
However, there are varying opinions on the health impacts from such devices.
"You actually take in the nicotine through a vapor rather than through an actual combusted smoke or fire that produces the smoke into your lungs," Duran said.
Duran added there's also less harmful chemicals, such as acetone and tars found in traditional cigarettes.
Because of widespread availability and limited restrictions from lawmakers, there is concern the devices are accessible to teens.
"The number of high school students using electronic cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012 according to the CDC.
In Albuquerque, they are trying to ban the sale to minors and there's also a state law currently in the works to do the same statewide.
Duran said he controls who he sells to by checking IDs at the door.
"We take it upon ourselves to really go after and insure we are not providing this product to a minor," Duran said.
He added they do not want teens to look at E-cigs as the trendy, cool thing to do because E-cigs are meant to help quit an unhealthy habit.
"Those that are not smoking, we really would encourage you to stay away from it because that's not what this is intended to be for," Duran said.