For decades people have been hoping to see a fall in the use of poisonous tobacco cigarettes. Now that's taking place but it's not leading to mass celebrations. Officials in Alaska claim that it may be because tobacco users are turning to e-cigarettes.
Tobacco consumption in the state has falllen from 53 million packs in 1996 to 28 million in 2014 and that's despite a population increase. State officials say they're not sure if it's the rise in popularity in e-cigarettes that is the cause due to the lack of tax data. Common sense would say that it is e-cigarettes that is causing the fall in tobacco consumption because who'd want to smoke poisonous tobacco when you can use the much safer e-cigarettes?
Alison Kulas is the tobacco program manager for the state health department. She's complaining that with e-cigarettes "you're not entirely sure what you could be buying from somebody." Rather confusingly vape shops are listed under the 'tobacco' section of the Yellow Pages in Alaska and that shouldn't be the case.
Kevin Collins sells e-liquids at Sumo Vapor in Anchorage and he says the nicotine in their products come from eggplants. His business has seen "huge growth" in the last year with business tripling, yet the state officials still can't work out whether it's e-cigarettes that are causing the welcome fall in tobacco consumption.
Alison Kulas may be moaning about e-cigarettes but surely she should take note of the fact that the product has helped people give up smoking deadly tobacco cigarettes. Both Collins and his sales associate Kim Hopper have done just that. Behind the counter at their shop is a pile of tobacco cigarettes that they say are the last-ever packs smoked by customers.