E-cigarette regulations: Is KC next?

OLATHE, Kan. - Derrick Watson "vapes" wherever he wants. He said the switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes changed his life.

"I smoked cigarettes for 20 years and I've been smoke-free for three months," he said.

The new tobacco-less industry surged from a $200 million industry in 2010 to more than $2 billion last year.

But the government is concerned the unregulated product is targeting the wrong audience: kids.

The percentage of minors who use electronic cigarettes more than doubled between 2011 and 2012. The CEO of the third largest e-cigarette maker, LOGIC, said kids are not who they target.

"We have discontinued flavors. We don't advertise on TV. We contract with our retailers so that they age verify at the cigarette age," Miguel Martin said.

Last week, Chicago banned e-cigarette use in all places where cigarettes are restricted. Kansas City considered changes but they're waiting for the FDA.

"There's not a lot of information, there's not a lot of studies so they're looking at the pros and cons," Bill Snook of the Kansas City, Mo., Health Department said.

If the FDA proves e-cigarettes are harmful and enacts new regulations, Kansas City will need new ordinances.

Owners of locally-owned KC Vapes think that will be a difficult task. Co-owner Derrick Woods cited the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives, who studied the amount of harmful cancer-causing substances. They found e-cigs contained eight Nitrosamines in a fully flavored cigarette 6,300.

"To compare it with Nicorette chewing gum, the Nicorette chewing gum, which I don't think the FDA is trying to regulate out of existence, eight Nitrosamines as well," Woods said.

Still, not all liquids are the same; without regulation, it's difficult to know what you're inhaling.

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