Second E-Cig Shop Opens in Duluth

Posted at: 09/28/2013 3:42 PM | Updated at: 09/28/2013 6:15 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

A city ban will limit electronic cigarettes just like tobacco cigarettes in Duluth, but the owner of a new store in town said it will not stop the demand for e-cigs.

Brian Annis got a license to see electronic cigarettes from the City of Duluth in August, but he took some time to open the doors of Lake Effect Vapor.

“And to finally get the inventory on the shelves feels really good because it's been sitting in a storage locker for a couple of months here,” Annis said.

The store owner waited to see what the Duluth City Council would do to restrict the products he's selling. The electronic cigarettes use battery power to vaporize a syrup-like liquid that contains nicotine. He hoped customers could come into the store and sample the variety of flavored liquids, but the city's ban will prevent that when it takes effect on Oct. 9.

“Part of the business model was to have tasting in the store and have people be able to use the devices before they take them home. So it just put a little bit of a wrench in that part of the business model, but you know it's not going to decrease the demand for electronic cigarettes or the advantages of electronic cigarettes,” Annis said.

Annis sells liquid with and without nicotine, but he doesn't see e-cigs as a cessation device. However he feels they are a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes.

“It's basically a nicotine delivery deice that doesn't involve combustion. There's no fire, there's no tar, there's not carbon monoxide,” Annis said.

The safety of e-cigs is still being debated, but Annis said local governments shouldn't limit their use without proof e-cigs are harmful. He would prefer that the Federal Drug Administration make clear and consistent regulations.

“The regulations they come down with to help ensure safety and help ensure cleanliness of mixing the liquid, we're all for that and I think it's coming,” Annis said.

Annis said other benefits of e-cigs speak for themselves.

“The smell isn't there. The cost is definitely an incentive especially with this new tax that's come up on tobacco cigarettes,” Annis said.

He said those factors alone make him optimistic about his new business. Annis said selling e-cigs to anyone under 18 was illegal by state law, and that portion of city's ordinance was redundant.

Other cities are also questioning the devices. Hermantown has put a six-month moratorium on e-cig sales and indoor use.

Annis said Lake Effect Vapor will have a grand opening celebration on Friday.

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