Vaping is a fast growing industry without regulation

Tom Abrahams Image
Monday, November 10, 2014
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Vaping is growing in popularity but there is concern over no regulation

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Vaping is the so-called alternative to smoking cigarettes wherein users inhale flavored vapor.

Its popularity is exploding, as are the questions about whether or not to regulate an industry quickly competing with big tobacco and potentially gaining traction among teenagers who may or may not know what they're inhaling.

Frederic Johnson, for one, hasn't picked up a cigarette in six months, after smoking for 15 years, instead he vapes.

"You just inhale like you're smoking a cigarette," Johnson said.

He's part of a growing trend among smokers here in Houston and around the country, trying to kick the habit in favor of inhaling vaporized flavored liquids.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate the vaping industry. It doesn't control or verify the ingredients of what's called juice -- which typically contain water, propylene glycol, or vegetable glycerin along with flavoring and in some juices there varying levels of nicotine. That lack of regulation, stalled in Washington D.C., has helped its growth and popularity.

It is an industry that is growing exponentially. At the first ever Vape Summit in Houston there were 300 vendors, more than 10,000 people attending.

Experts say it is a $2 billion a year industry and it's just getting started.

Rocky Anciano is the founder of the Vape Summit and he says the industry is more than just about vaping; it's a community, a sub culture. He says that culture keeps the products pure for the sellers and the buyers.

"The way we progress is faster than we can be regulated because of the innovation and ideals behind it," said Anciano.

Among the vendors at the summit was Pip Gresham. She owns Suicide Bunny, a company that sells liquids, and got into the business to help her husband quit smoking when nothing else seemed to work.

After I educated myself," she said, "I began making liquid. He (her husband) was able to quit and we've helped a lot of people since then. The power of vaping is huge as an alternative to help people quit."

But with a variety of flavors and ever-changing, cool-looking technology --is it also too attractive to young people? Dr. Crystal Collier, with the Council On Alcohol & Drugs in Houston, says parents should pay attention.

"We've actually had some middle schools give us a call and ask us about this because they've caught kids coming to school with e-cigarettes and the liquid within their backpacks," Dr. Collier said. "What's scary is that some of the kids don't know that the vials actually do contain nicotine and they're becoming addicted immediately."

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