BOISE, Idaho -- It might be a trend you have noticed: electronic cigarettes. The devices use battery power to heat a liquid (usually containing nicotine) the user inhales. Some folks are choosing this option over traditional cigarettes.
Electronicstix, a company that started in Utah, just opened their first store in Boise.
"We have three stores that have been pretty seasoned down in Utah," said Devin Norager, who works at ElectronicStix.
Norager smoked traditional cigarettes before switching to vaping, and says a lot of people are in that same situation.
"Ninety-nine percent of it is people that do smoke and want a healthier alternative," Norager said.
Kody Girard smoked for more than a decade, and is using vaping to cut costs from purchasing traditional cigarettes. Girard said he doesn't know much about the health effects of vaping.
"It's just like smoking," said Girard. "You don't know much about it you try to ignore it the best you can because it's bad. So this might not be, but it's gotta be better than cigarettes."
Doctor Jim Souza, Vice President of Medical Affairs at St. Luke's Medical Center in Boise, talked with KTVB about the health effects of e-cigarettes.
"I think the state of the science right now is there's not enough information to draw a conclusion," said Souza.
Dr. Souza said the main concern in health care is e-cigarette marketing targeting to kids.
"It's estimated now that 10 percent of high school seniors have used e-cigarettes, of that 10 percent, 75 percent of them also use tobacco," Souza said. "So because nicotine is so powerfully addictive, the concern from a public health perspective is that this could be a gateway into traditional tobacco for young people, and that would be a public health disaster."
However, the reserve effect could be good for public health.
"I think most folks in health care think that if all smokers could convert to e-cigarettes, that would probably be a public health boon, although we don't know that for sure," said Souza.
He said it does help people kick the habit.
Audra Johnson started smoking years ago, and has been vaping for about three months.
"I figured it would help because I've tried patch, the pill, everything else, Chantix, nothing has really worked," said Johnson.
Johnson said she is saving money by switching over to e-cigarettes, and feels better.
E-cigarettes range anywhere in price from a few bucks for a disposable one to several hundred dollars for the high-end products.