Imagine a healthy cigarette. A cough-free cigarette. A cigarette that doesn’t burn, doesn’t ash, doesn’t stink.
Now imagine such a cigarette…on sale in the Bronx.
“I can’t keep these e-cigarettes on the shelf,” said Arthur Avenue smoke shop owner Paul DiSilvio. “No carcinogens. No chemicals. Just a fine nicotine mist. What a breakthrough. I smoke them myself because I love the taste.”
DiSilvio’s Casa La Grande Tobacco Company began stocking e-cigarettes three weeks ago. The non-flammable e-cigarette – e for electronic – runs on a small, rechargeable battery.
Designed to look like a real cigarette, its replaceable atomizing chamber holds nicotine-laced water and fake tobacco flavor. When smoked, the e-cigarette releases nicotine-water vapor.
Real cigarettes contain not only nicotine and tobacco, but also carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, cyanide, formaldehyde, methanol and ammonia, which all cause cancer. Not the e-cigarette. According to DiSilvio, it’s 100 percent satisfying and 100 percent healthy.
The World Health Organization doesn’t consider the e-cigarette a safe tobacco surrogate, yet. According to WHO, there’s no scientific evidence to confirm its utility.
But DiSilvio is touting the gadget as a blessing for smokers who want to quit. The atomizing chamber comes in different nicotine levels, from full-on fix to pure water and between.
The e-cigarette was developed in China in 2004, a WHO report stated. DiSilvio, who wouldn’t reveal his source, said Casa La Grande’s products are manufactured in France and Turkey.
DiSilvio fancies himself a super-entrepreneur, and discovered e-cigarettes through Internet research this October. He pounced, securing a shipment right away. E-cigarettes are lifesavers, DiSilvio argues, and money savers too. Each chamber delivers approximately 350 puffs, equivalent to 30 real cigarettes.
“It’s $100-140 for a starter kit, $19 for each 5-chamber re-up,” he said. “In the long run, you’re saving hundreds, thousands of dollars. And you don’t have to pay these ridiculous taxes. It’s a no-brainer.”
Sabrina Alongi, who administers Jacobi Medical Center’s smoking cessation program, hadn’t heard of the e-cigarette.
“It sounds like another form of nicotine replacement therapy,” she said. “Similar to the patch or nicotine gum, although you’d have the oral gratification too. We haven’t explored it, but will.”
Alongi believes smokers need support from family and friends to quit. DiSilvio, a cigar connoisseur, is pushing e-cigarettes and e-cigars in exciting flavors – pineapple, cognac, cherry, chocolate, vanilla.
“If your wife is hitting you over the head about the smell, if you feel like a pariah because you can’t smoke in bars or restaurants, the e-cigarette is for you,” DiSilvio said. “It’s awesome.”