GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Some people are choosing electronic cigarettes instead of smoking regular cigarettes. It's become a controversial topic in the medical community.
At Lite Up and Live cigarette shop on Plainfield Avenue, owner Jim Freiburger says he's helping people kick the habit. "I get a lot of people coming in saying it's been six weeks since I had a cigarette. I feel great." The battery operated device heats up liquid nicotine and the vapor is inhaled. It doesn't contain any of the tobacco leaf.
"I think people think electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco," says respiratory therapist and smoking cessation coach, Laura VanHeest. She's not convinced it's a good idea. She says nicotine is a highly addictive drug. "What I think is that they need to understand is nicotine, in its own right, is a deadly drug and it needs to be regulated and safe."
E-cigarettes have not been approved by the FDA and are not regulated.
"You can buy them and they'll have 24 milligrams of nicotine in a cigarette and it's 400 puffs. But, how many in a day, how much nicotine are they getting?" VanHeest wonders. She says if someone wants to stop smoking, they should see a professional and consider FDA approved options.
At Lite Up and Live, Freiburger believes in the product. He says if it gets people to stop smoking, it's doing some good.