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ONLY ON 3: Quitting habit, saving money may be fueling e-cigarette boom

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Two weeks into the New Year, and some people are still trying to kick a few bad habits.

Smokers in Wilmington are no exception, which might explain the boom in electronic cigarette stores in the area.

Recently a few new signs have been popping up around the Port City. Electronic cigarettes promise the same satisfaction as normal cigarettes without all of those nasty chemicals.

"It still delivers your nicotine, and you can adjust the level of nicotine you get in it, but there is no smoke, no carbon monoxide, no tar," Electra Vapor president David Peterson said.

Cigarettes have more than 4,000 chemicals. E-cigarettes, Peterson says, have only four.

"It is a much safer alternative to smoking cigarettes," he said.

Customers hope this alternative can help them kick the habit altogether.

"I have seen a couple people buy them, and they have actually worked," first-time customer Mike Gerringer said. "I have not been able to quit smoking. I have tried several things, so I figured I would give this a shot."

Peterson, who owns six e-cigarette stores in Wilmington and Jacksonville says the growth of shops like his comes down to simple economics. Not only can you smoke e-cigarettes just about anywhere, e-cigarettes are also much cheaper than normal cigarettes.

"Smoking cigarettes just at a pack a day will cost an average consumer around $150 a month," Peterson said. "Smoking electronic cigarettes cost an average person $20 to $25 a month."

Of course, experts say the healthiest alternative to smoking is to give up the habit altogether.

Though customers swear by electronic cigarettes, they have not yet been proven to actually help people quit smoking. The FDA says because research continues, customers have no way to how safe they are or how much nicotine and other chemicals they are inhaling.

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