FLORA VISTA — Electronic cigarettes have made news as an alternative to smoking, and now a local businessman hopes his newly opened business will allow people to ingest vitamins by inhaling vapors.
Anasazi Vapors, 903 N.M. Highway 516, has been open since early January. The business' owner, Tim Rowlands, mixes custom flavors for electronic cigarettes, which may include herbal extracts and no nicotine. Rowlands said he has also been using his own vitamin mixture for a year and attributes it to increased health. He does this by inhaling vitamin filled vapors from his electronic cigarette.
"When I started, I had high blood pressure and was taking Prozac," Rowlands said.
Since then, he said he has lost 100 pounds and doesn't take any medication to maintain his health.
"I went to the doctor the other day and he gave me a clean bill of health," he added.
Regardless of Rowlands' claims, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers electronic cigarettes to be cigarettes.
"Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products," said Jennifer Haliski, an FDA spokeswoman during a phone interview.
She added that new rules to regulate electronic cigarettes are expected to be proposed in a few months, and the public will be able to comment on those rules.
"There are currently no electronic cigarettes that are FDA-approved for therapeutic purposes," she said.
Still, Rowlands stands by his claim. And, he said, he welcomes the FDA to further regulate electronic cigarettes.
"I will comply," Rowlands said.
As Rowland — who says he previously smoked nearly three packs a day of regular cigarettes — saw his health improve by using his vitamin vapor, he said he decided to offer the same product to people as an alternative to smoking.
Mike Ward, who has been using Rowland's vitamin mixture in his electronic cigarette for more than 200 days, credits his increased health to the vapor mixture.
"It's like I'm 18 again. It's incredible," said Ward, 43, of Farmington.
Thomas Kiklas, co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, has been on the national front lines speaking in support of electronic cigarettes. He warns that regardless of the electronic juice, the mixture that turns to vapor in an electronic cigarette, that may be mixed, an electronic cigarette is still a tobacco product.
"It's still an electronic cigarette, if you put anything else in there," Kiklas said in a phone interview.
He said that "adding supplements to an electronic cigarette and making a health claim is very irresponsible."
Rowlands said he has researched many of the issues related to electronic cigarettes and understands the health claims he has made are based on personal experience.
Aside from vitamin additives, Rowlands said he sells more than 90 different flavors of electronic juice and more than 2,000 different flavor combinations from plain cherry to atomic pop.
"It's endless," he said. "We even got bacon flavor."Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638. and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.