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E-cigs now available in Park Rapids

Delvin Keezer and Michelle Bloom stand in front of a listing of the many flavor options available for the electronic cigarettes that can be purchased at their shop, E-Cig City. (Nick Longworth / Enterprise)

     Electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as “E-Cigs” are now available in Park Rapids due to the recent opening of E-Cig City along Highway 34.

     Owners Delvin Keezer Michelle Bloom officially opened their shop on March 16. The store offers a variety of pipes, juices and accessories for E-Cigs, hoping to find a niche in the Park Rapids market to fulfill a fad.

     “We kind of got the idea from my sister, Bridget. She has (a shop) down in Oak Grove and her plan was to open one up here, actually. She shot the idea to us and we tried it out,” said Keezer, who splits his time between E-Cig City and his other job, a full-time kitchen manager at Northern Lights Casino in Walker.

     His Fiancée (and co-owner) Michelle also divides her time between her job at Coborn’s and their new shop.

     “We spent a couple of months down there and then we started looking for a storefront around here. We liked what we found along the main highway so people can see us. There were a lot of other places, but this one seemed to be closest to the highway and things have been going pretty good so far,” Keezer said.

     Often called “vaping,” these E-Cigs use a method that converts liquid Nicotine into a relatively odorless steam. This steam can be inhaled and exhaled, effectively mimicking the act of smoking.

     In contrast to conventional cigarette smoke, users have reported finding it easier on the lungs and believe it is a healthier alternative.

     The E-cigs come in a variety of different flavors and levels of nicotine, attracting users of a wide variety.

     “We mix our own juices here and sell them at different milligrams of nicotine in different sized bottles. Some people want no nicotine, like people who are trying to quit smoking, but some people want a lot of nicotine and will work their way down to 0. There are a lot of different flavors that can go in the E-cig,” Bloom said.

     “We’re adding a more and different variety that will be coming in soon. We will continue to add more as we stay open and depending on what the clientele wants,” Keezer said.

     However, questions linger as to whether or not they are actually safer.

     According to the Mayo Clinic website, “Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has questioned the safety of these products. When the FDA analyzed samples of two popular brands, they found variable amounts of nicotine and traces of toxic chemicals, including known cancer-causing substances (carcinogens).”

     According to a March 10 article from the Washington Post, “In 2009, the FDA detected diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze, in some e-cig samples and carcinogens called nitrosamines in others. The FDA is expected to soon release a proposed rule that would allow the agency to regulate them as they do other tobacco products.”

     Questions also remain about the effect on other bystanders through secondhand smoke.

     According to the same Washington Post article, “A December 2013 study compared exhaled vapor from three e-cigarette brands with exhaled tobacco smoke and found that the e-cig vapor contained about one-tenth the level found in tobacco smoke. But the researchers didn’t test for some of the other potentially unsafe components of vapor that earlier studies had found, including formaldehyde and metal particles.”

     Science aside, a large appeal for their customer base is that E-Cigs are cheaper, and can also help lose looking to ultimately quit altogether.

     “We’ve had quite a few people coming in lately who have either been close to quitting or are quitting. The whole point is to help people stop smoking,” Bloom said, “These don’t have the tar and other ingredients that cigarettes do have. And they’re a lot cheaper.”

     “I have been off cigarettes for three weeks it’s kind of nice,” Keezer said.

     Keezer said so far business has been steady, with a fair amount of repeat customers who now don’t have to travel to another town for their products.

     “I would say we get 50-50 (male to female, young and old). A lot of people already have their E-Cigs and just come in for the juice. They used to be going to Bemidji, Fargo, or someplace like that. But now that we’re in town we can save them a trip,” Keezer said.

     “We also get a lot of people passing through who happen to see our sign. A lot of people are coming back now because they don’t have to travel.

     Users must be 18 to purchase E-Cigs.

     E-Cig City can be found at 601 1st St. East in Park Rapids or reached at 218-366-1471.

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
(218) 732-3364