Electronic cigarettes are increasingly popular among teens. A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute has found that "vaping" could jump start the use of real cigarettes.
Julie Foxwell owns a vapor shop in Flowood. She says the vape pens appeal to various age groups, and are the furthest thing from being a gateway to smoking.
"I don't believe it's a gateway at all. When you're looking at it from a kid's perspective, at 18, 19, 23, where I can blow massive clouds, it's turned into more of a hobby," Foxwell says.
E-cigarettes deliver nicotine slower than traditional cigarettes. Some believe that they're a safer alternative to the real thing.
According to Dr. Thomas Payne of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, that idea is debatable.
He says lower nicotine levels will build a tolerance, allowing room for advancement to smoke tobacco.
"It's a very mixed message on e-cigarettes. Between that greater acceptability of the product and the increasing dosage of nicotine, it makes perfect sense that we're starting to see kids who become hooked on nicotine, and then move on to products that can produce an even higher hit," Payne says.
Payne says consumers should not be fooled by the vapor flavors because they too, pose a threat to one's health.
"I think many think because it smells like cherries or strawberries, that they're putting oils of cherries or strawberries in there. That's not the case. These are chemical compounds that are made to stimulate certain receptors and give you that scent or that taste," says Payne.
Dr. Payne says more research will ensure a standard of safety, and educate young people on E-cigarettes and tobacco use.