Efforts by his wife and sister to quit smoking prompted Kevin Morin to look for an alternative to the more traditional means.
Earlier this month Morin and his wife Debra opened Ecig Crib, a store that sells electronic cigarettes and is located on Coon Rapids Boulevard in the Coon Rapids Square Shopping Center, next to Goodwill.
This is only the second electronic cigarette or e-cigarette store in the state; the other opened in Anoka last year.
According to Morin, both his wife and sister had tried other methods to stop smoking, including patches, but nothing worked until they used electronic cigarettes.
“Electronic cigarettes are one of the best ways to quit smoking,” Morin said.
Morin, who grew up in the Coon Rapids area, has never smoked in his life. “I can’t stand the smoke,” he said.
The main ingredients of electronic cigarettes are water-based nicotine in an optional juice-flavored liquid which produces a vapor.
But Morin said that electronic cigarettes do not contain the other harmful ingredients of regular cigarettes – acetone, cadmium, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, DDT pesticide, ethanol, butane, ammonia, methane, tar and other toxins.
Nor does the electronic cigarette give off second-hand smoke, he said.
It costs less than a regular cigarette, there are no fire hazards, no ashtrays and lighters, no offensive smells and it can be used in non-smoking environments, according to Morin.
“It is an innovative green solution for smokers trying to quit,” Morin said.
But Ecig Crib is more than a store where electronic cigarettes kits and bottles of the liquid are sold.
There is also a lounge area with free WiFi offering an opportunity for people to come in and relax or study while using electronic cigarettes.
According to Morin, it’s no coincidence that the store is located close to Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
Young people between the age of 19 and 25 is the age group that smokes the most, Morin said.
“We offer a healthier alternative,” he said.
While there is still nicotine involved, Morin said electronic cigarettes are akin to drinking a cup of coffee with caffeine.
“You still get the smoking sensation, but without the tar and other carcinogens,” he said.
The electronic cigarettes come in portable kits, which in some cases are shaped to look like a regular cigarette, and have a small reservoir where the liquid is poured, plus a battery power source which can be recharged.
According to Morin, a starter electronic cigarette kit will cost $19.99.
The most expensive kit he sells, called “Woo,” has a $119.99 price tag.
“It holds a lot more juice and comes with two batteries,” Morin said.
The liquids that produce the vapor are available in many different flavors and nicotine concentrations, including nicotine-free versions.
“We will be offering 40 different flavors and have about 25 in stock right now,” Morin said.
A one-ounce bottle costs $17.95, the contents lasting as long as the equivalent of smoking two cartons of cigarettes, according to Morin.
For Debra, the advent of electronic cigarettes enabled her to quit after decades of smoking and after trying various other stop-smoking methods, she said.
“Electronic cigarettes work and they are healthier,” Debra Morin said.
“Now we are trying to help other people.”
In Morin’s case, Ecig Crib is a second career, although he plans to continue to work as a carpenter, a job he has had for 37 years.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org