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‘Smokeless’ cigarette shop ready to open

Husband-and-wife owners Trant and Karen P. Bullard display an electronic
cigarette kit Thursday at their new True Vapor shop on Westover Boulevard in Albany.

Husband-and-wife owners Trant and Karen P. Bullard display an electronic cigarette kit Thursday at their new True Vapor shop on Westover Boulevard in Albany.

ALBANY — It tastes like a cigarette and makes a kind of “smoke” indistinguishable from the real thing, says Trant Bullard, co-owner of True Vapor, which is opening soon at Westover Crossing.

Unfortunately, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are just as addictive as the original kind.

“Nicotine is nicotine,” Bullard said. “It’s addictive, but it’s a lot less harmful than (real cigarettes) with the other things they have. I’m not advocating that nicotine is good for anyone. We don’t want to sell these products to a non-smoker or a non-nicotine user.”

A smoker of traditional cigarettes for 27 years, Bullard and his wife, co-owner Karen, have “given up” on quitting — at least for the time being, he says. Now they smoke nothing but the new electronic versions he says come without the toxic and cancer-causing substances natural in tobacco or added later by cigarette manufacturers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta states that more than 7,700 separate chemicals have been identified in traditional cigarette smoke, with at least 69 of them known to cause cancer.

According to Bullard, there are basically two types of people who purchase e-cigarettes: Those, like Bullard, who simply want a safer cigarette to smoke, and others who want to “taper off,” then give up smoking entirely to be addiction-free. Bullard contends the electronic route can be the answer to either goal and says his Dothan, Ala., shop — in operation since October — sees plenty of both types of clients.

Bullard says that whichever route is chosen, those smoking his electronic product generally “feel better” with no tell-tale odor to their clothes. In Panama City, Fla., where Bullard scoped out a similar shop before going into business himself, a lot of the restaurants and businesses allow “e-smoking,” even when traditional cigarettes are banned, he said.

Bullard said he brings new prospects to his “tasting area,” to help customers settle on a product best suited to their current brand of cigarettes and smoking frequency. Individual smoking habits determine the “flavor,” strength and amount of the smoking “fluid” mated with the battery-powered apparatus.

According to Bullard, the smoking fluid is a pre-mixed combination of propylene glycol, a synthetic liquid used in the chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries, and vegetable glycerin to provide the “smoke” cigarette users have grown accustomed to. Both ingredients are listed as “safe” by the FDA, Bullard said. Finally, the mixture contains a prescribed amount of nicotine — identical to that in traditional tobacco, but derived from banana peels.

Bullard says the cost for an initial electronic smoking “kit” is typically less than that of “two cartons of traditional cigarettes, and the cost of e-smoking falls even lower once the kit is purchased.”

True Vapor is scheduled to open April 23 at 621 Westover Blvd., Suite E.