Debate growing over e-cigarettes - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Debate growing over e-cigarettes

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Electronic cigarettes, the smokeless alternative to regular cigarettes, have been banned from most indoor public spaces in Chicago, and they're giving many a business owner pause in Kansas City.

In addition to indoor public spaces, Chicago's ban includes puffing on the e-cigarettes anywhere within 15-feet of a building entrance. The ban follows similar actions in both New York and Los Angeles.

Business owners in Kansas City are definitely paying attention.

"We haven't really had a problem yet, but I'm starting to realize we're going to have to talk about it, and decide what the best mode of action is," said chef and restaurant owner Colby Garrelts.

Garrelts owns Rye restaurant in Leawood, KS. He remembers having to ban cigarettes from his first restaurant, Bluestem, in Westport.

"We got a lot of flack for it, especially in the lounge. Back then, it was unheard of not to allow somebody to have a drink and have a cigarette with it. I think it hurt our business in the beginning," he said.

E-cigarette smokers KCTV5 talked with say they don't know what all the fuss is about.

"I don't understand because they don't put off any toxins. That's the whole reason you can't smoke inside is because it puts off smoke and smell," said e-cigarette smoker Lisa Turnley.

Turnley replaced cigarettes with e-cigarettes after hand surgery when her doctor told her that cigarettes can slow the healing process.

"Sometimes people look at you funny because they don't know what it is. They see smoke, but they don't give off chemicals," Turnley said.

"It's on the cusp of being regulated. The FDA is moving towards that, and they've said for several months they're going to do something about it. But there hasn't been, to my knowledge, an official statement come out of the FDA yet," said Dr. Stephen Thornton.

Thornton, a toxicologist at the University of Kansas Hospital, said it's what's not known about e-cigarettes that makes it a risky habit.

"I think skepticism is healthy and there needs to be more research, and we need to be able to answer those questions," Thorton said.

Experts say e-cigarettes most likely do not have the same amount of carcinogens as regular cigarettes.

They're perceived as a smoking cassation tool, but manufacturers can't make that claim as e-cigarettes remain unregulated and, for the most part, un-researched.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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