Michael Bitar, co-owner of VAPORhub in Truro, displays a couple of the electronic cigarette models available in his retail shop. Harry Sullivan – Truro Daily News
TRURO – A few years ago while travelling in the United States, Nain and Michael Bitar were introduced to electronic cigarettes.
They didn’t know much about the product, or ‘vaping’ as the experience is called, but Nain, 28, decided to give it a try.
After smoking since he was 16, Nain said it has now been more than two years since he has had a cigarette after switching to the e-cigarette.
“Some people have mixed reviews about it,” Nain said. “I wasn’t a believer until I tried it and ever since then I haven’t had a cigarette in two and a half years … it changed my life.”
Michael, 23, said it has now been more than a year since he also quit smoking cigarettes, in favour of the electronic brand, which does not produce smoke.
The e-cigarettes use a liquid (called a juice) that is heated and absorbed by a battery-operated coil, which is then turned into a water vapour.
“It also worked well for an uncle of ours (who had smoked for 45 or 50 years),” Michael said.
“And he hasn’t touched a cigarette in over a year and a half now and that kind of inspired us to open up shop.”
The retail business is located on Willow Street and is called VAPORhub.
Besides the e-cigarettes, the brothers also sell accessories and the e-juice, solutions that contain a wide variety of flavourings, some of which contain nicotine and others that do not.
“What we’re trying to do is just help people who have been smoking for so long. I mean, we’re not here to sell to minors or people who don’t smoke,” Michael said. “We just want to give people a healthier, cheaper alternative that makes them feel better. We’re putting money back in their pocket and they’re feeling better. We get people in here who are 65, 70 years old and their lungs wheeze throughout the night. Within a week, week and a half, that’s gone, they’re feeling better.”
E-cigarette products, including e-liquids, that contain any amount of nicotine or have a health claim, fall within the scope of the Food and Drugs Actand require approval by Health Canada before they can be imported, advertised or sold in Canada.
Health Canada spokesman Gary Holub
told the Truro Daily News that, to date, “there is not sufficient evidence that the potential benefits of e-cigarettes in helping Canadians to quit smoking outweigh the potential risks.”
Holub said a company would have to provide evidence of safety, quality and effectiveness in order to have its product authorized and without that scientific evidence, Health Canada continues to advise Canadians against the use of these products.
No such products have been approved, he said.
“Nicotine is a highly addictive and toxic substance, and the inhalation of propylene glycol (found in the flavourings) is a known irritant. Although these electronic smoking products may be marketed as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products, electronic smoking products may pose risks such as nicotine poisoning and addiction.”
Health Canada further urges anyone who is trying to quit smoking to talk with their doctor and see what products are available to help them.