October 1, 2014 6:02 pm
Updated: October 1, 2014 6:43 pm

E-Cigarettes: Lethbridge smokers show support

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Alberta’s Health Minister is calling for tougher rules surrounding the sales of electronic cigarettes. Stephen Mandel’s concerns were echoed by his counterparts as they met in Banff on Tuesday.

But the devices are still widely available, with two ‘vape’ stores open in the city of Lethbridge. Many believe it should stay that way.

Jonah Primrose is one of those people. Like millions before him, he tried to quit smoking.

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“I smoked for 26 years. I started when I was eleven years old,” said Primrose. “A pack and a half to two packs a day depending on what kind of job I was doing.”

Then he had three beautiful daughters and knew he had to make a change.

“I’ve tried pills, I’ve tried quitting cold turkey, essential oils, I’ve tried acupuncture. I was on my way to get laser treatment for the brain and somebody told me about this new technology called ‘vaping’. I tried it and July 21st this year, I quit and that’s almost two and a half months ago. I haven’t had one single cigarette at all which for me, is a miracle.”

Primrose isn’t alone. At the newly opened Vape Station in downtown Lethbridge, store owner Colin Olson sees these success stories everyday.

“This is, in my experience, and a lot of customers who’ve come in and tell me their success stories, one of the best methods to get off traditional cigarettes,” said Olson.

As made clear in Banff, not everyone is convinced e-cigarettes should be so easily accessible. Health ministers raised concerns over e-cigarettes being a gateway for minors into regular smoking. Even though there are no regulations in place for selling to minors, shop owners in the ‘vaping’ community in Lethbridge have enforced their own strict policies on selling to minors.

“You probably will never find a vape shop that will sell to minors because we don’t believe in it,” said Olson. “We have a hard time selling to even non-smokers. It’s not something that’s out there for fun. It’s more something we’re using to give people an alternative to a traditional tobacco cigarette.”

For a lifelong smoker like Jonah Primrose, that alternative has given him hope for the future.

“When I look at this I don’t see whatever unit I’m using or what I’m vaping. I’m seeing potential grandchildren in my hand. So that’s where I’m heading with this.”

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