Disposable e-cigarettes not exactly lighting up the bar scene in Bay City

With Michigan’s new smoking restrictions in bars and restaurants, some businesses are hoping to cash in by selling disposable electronic cigarettes. But Bay City businesses report that sales are static so far.

“People are just going outside and smoking,” said Rick Revette, owner of Gatsby’s Seafood and Steakhouse, Mulligan’s Pub and Rattlesnake Rick’s Roadhouse in downtown Bay City.

The electronic cigarettes that were available at Duso's Bar, 604 E. Midland St., Bay City.

The electronic cigarettes that were available at Duso's Bar, 604 E. Midland St., Bay City.

Revette bought two cases of disposable e-cigarettes, which can legally be smoked anywhere, and is selling them for $14 a pack. He hasn’t had many takers.

So far, Rattlesnake Rick’s has sold only three packs, according to Jeff Gawrych, a manager and bartender at the restaurant, 708 Saginaw.

“They’re just not selling,” said Gawrych, who has smoked a rechargeable version of e-cigarettes for a year. “I just think the rechargeable is better than anything.”

Gawrych said disposable e-cigarettes last as long as about one charge of a rechargeable e-cigarette.

O’Hares Bar & Grill, 608 E. Midland, also sells e-cigarettes and reports only a handful of packs sold since the statewide smoking ban took effect May 1.

Beth R. Dore, owner of Duso’s Bar at 604 E. Midland in Bay City, opened her bar last year as a smoke-free bar that sold e-cigarettes. It never worked.

“It was a flop because everyone had the option to go smoke-free,” said Dore, a former smoker.

A few businesses, though, are seeing more success with e-cigarettes. A rechargeable e-cigarette vendor in the Bay City Mall, 4101 E. Wilder in Bangor Township, has seen a steady increase in business since opening in February.

“I have a steady amount of regular customers getting cartridges and a steady amount of new people coming in,” said Cary Lee, co-owner with his wife, Mona, of A Clean Cigarette — a company that sells battery-powered electronic smokes. “So, I would say business is definitely up from (when the smoking ban started in Michigan).”

Lee, a former smoker who now only uses the e-cigarette, said the majority of his business comes from referrals and just making sure that people understand how to use the device.

Patricia Herr, 21, smokes an electronic cigarette while speaking with Mona Lee, co-owner of the A Clean Cigarette booth in Bay City Mall. The electronic cigarettes are smoke-free and rechargeable.

Patricia Herr, 21, smokes an electronic cigarette while speaking with Mona Lee, co-owner of the A Clean Cigarette booth in Bay City Mall. The electronic cigarettes are smoke-free and rechargeable.

Lee’s rechargeable electronic cigarettes are sold in kits for $55. Each kit contains a vaporizer and six cartridges that equal about a pack and a half of real cigarettes. The cartridges contain the nicotine or menthol.

Once the kit is purchased, smokers need only replace cartridges as they wear out at a cost of $3.

Eventually, batteries must be replaced as well. Batteries, which hold a charge for about three hours and can be recharged up to 360 times, cost $12.95.

The e-cigarettes are sold with four levels of nicotine — high, medium, low and none.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the devices, although they remain legal for now.

FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey said the FDA, which is in a legal battle with certain e-cigarette companies about whether the FDA should have jurisdiction over the devices, is not necessarily looking to ban e-cigarettes, but review them.

“Our position is that they’re a drug delivery device — that they deliver nicotine into the body,” DeLancey said. “We think that they should come to the FDA for review to make sure they’re safe and effective.”

source: mlive.com

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