Nearly 24 percent of adults in Alabama use tobacco. On top of that cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. Most Americans know this but many still choose to light up.
Numerous smokers in the Wiregrass area have tried everything from nicorette gum to acupuncture to try to quit smoking. Some have succeeded and others have failed but one of the newer alternatives out there, e-cigarettes has been growing. Karen Bullard is a former smoker who put her words into action.
"It's been the best thing I've ever done health wise ever," said, Bullard.
After smoking for more than three decades, the co-owner of True Vapor Inc admits that vaping has provided satisfaction, while clearing away all the negatives associated with smoking tobacco."
"I didn't realize how much I couldn't breathe or how bad I felt physically all the time," said Bullard.
In less than a month, one of Karen's nagging issues was completely vanished.
"My hacker cough, I called it my old lady hack, I got them in the mornings and after I started vaping it was about two to three weeks and that was just totally gone," said Bullard.
Other users see the good in e-cigs as well.
"I don't have an upper respiratory infections anymore. I don't smell like a cigarette anymore, I don't have any breathing problems, I save a lot of money," said Dothan resident Katrina Tucker,
All E-Cigarettes contain four main substances, liquid nicotine, vegetable glycerin, aromatics and propylene glycol. Even though scientists don't know every risk associated with vaping, they do confirm that E-Cigarettes contain far fewer chemicals than their tobacco counterpart. Dropping its total number of overall health risks.
"It appears to be safer but it's also just as addictive probably because of the nicotine that's still in it, and nicotine itself can cause problems with poor circulation and things like that in smokers as well. So it's not entirely a safe alternative but it is a different alternative to traditional cigarettes," said Corey Kirkland, a health service administrator with the Houston County Health Department.
Though more research still needs to be done, one thing appears clear, nicotine addiction is the one substance that controls most smokers and vapers.
"I would not encourage anyone to use it as an alternative to cigarettes. I would always encourage them to stop using tobacco products all together," said Kirkland.
But for now Karen Bullard sees the alternative as a life saver.
"Obviously I'm not a scientist or a chemist or anything like that to know 100 percent but in my mind. I mean just by my body, just how I feel, I mean it can't be bad, I've done it now for almost three years and I've had no effects, no nothing and I feel fantastic," said Bullard.
Other benefits from vaping include no secondhand smoke, being allowed to do it indoors at many restaurants and stores and improved senses in taste and smell.