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April 6, 2014

Vape debate alive in Duncan

DUNCAN — Hang out in the Vapor Lounge in Duncan long enough and you’ll be ready to grab an e-cigarette and suck down some peanut butter flavored vapor -- just to see what the fuss is all about.

You wouldn’t have to go with the peanut flavor.

You could go for strawberry banana. Or candy-flavored Skittles. Or,  if you long for something stronger-smelling that reminds you of your wayward cigarette-smoking days (but without the tar in your lungs),  there’s a Marlboro vapor flavor.

It’s called vaping. It’s not smoking. There’s no combustion involved. Just an electronic charge from a small battery in a vaporizer device that allows one to suck in a vapor -- with or without nicotine, it’s your choice.

Proponents say vaping will help you quit smoking and poses no health hazard.

Nevertheless, in some parts of the the country, there are moves to regulate vaping in the same manner tobacco smoking is regulated.

The vaping community is crying foul.

 They can cite studies that assert there is no second-hand danger to vapor use.

In Duncan a few weeks ago, the City Council considered regulating vaping, sometimes known as e-cigarettes, just as they did tobacco smoking, by prohibitings its use in or on city-owned property -- including parks.

There were a few complaints at the local senior citizens center about people vaping too close to the front door.

The council  postponed making a decision after the whole vaping phenomenon was explained to them by Sean Gore, chairman and president of the Oklahoma Vapor Advocacy League, the first such organization in the United States.

“It mimics smoking, it looks like smoking, but it’s not smoking,” Gore said.

He and Duncan vaping proponent T.J. Bess, who works at the Vapor Lounge in Chisolm Mall, were convincing enough to convince the council to think about simply prohibiting the indoor use of vaporizers on city-owned property and allowing outdoor use in city parks.

Those who vape in Duncan think that’s the sensible approach. They say they don’t want to bother anyone with their vaping and encourage anyone who wants to quit tobacco to follow their example, swearing that it helps more than anything they’ve ever tried.

“I don’t get winded now,” said Mike Hoy, who gave up his pack-a-day habit after he picked up a vaporizer. “I can last all day at my job. I have more energy.”

“I used to have to fight bronchitis twice a year, and now I don’t,” added Michelle Thorne, who puffed a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes per day before vaping.

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