The owner of an electronic cigarette store in Greenfield is hoping to open a second location this summer in East Tosa at 7028 W. North Ave., where there used to be a hair salon. The shop would need approval from the Plan Commission, which is scheduled to review the project Sept. 8.
The applicant is Cuong Tran, who goes by Ken. He said he started using vaporizers about a year and half ago, and found that they were a useful tool in quitting tobacco smoking. E-cigarettes, personal vaporizers in cigarette form, contain less or no nicotine compared to a regular cigarette.
"Now I don't have to worry about getting all the chemicals in a cigarette causing cancer," Tran said. "It changed my life."
Tran opened his first e-cigarette store, called Vape Haven, just a few weeks ago in Greenfield. He plans to use the same name for his Wauwatosa location, if the store is approved.
Tran said the first Vape Haven has been successful so far, and he expects a solid customer base in Wauwatosa.
"A lot of people in the vape community come to my shop," he said. "It's a big market right now. You save lives this way."
The market does seem to be expanding. According a recent survey by Kantar Media, about 57 percent of adults who used a product to try to quit smoking in the last year said they chose e-cigarettes. More than 20,000 adults participated in the survey of random U.S. households.
While e-cigarette sales are reportedly falling at traditional retail outlets like convenience stores, the Wall Street Journal reported such sales are rising at specialty "vape shops" like Tran's. There, customers can choose from a myriad of flavors and manufacturers.
Tran said he plans to offer about 100 different flavors, including all kinds of fruit flavors, and even one that tastes like tobacco.
There is some uncertainty surrounding the health impact of the products. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warns that there is "no way of knowing" if certain e-cigarettes are safe, what chemicals they contain or how much nicotine they have because of the lack of regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Plan Commission is scheduled to consider granting a conditional use permit for the store at its meeting 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave.
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