Restaurant finds e-cigarettes fill smoking need

GENESEE TOWNSHIP - Michigan’s new smoking ban appears to be creating a boost in the e-cigarette industry.

At least one local restaurant says it’s looking at these electronic cigarettes as a way to keep their staff and customers smoking legally indoors.

Many who run bars and restaurants in Mid-Michigan say they’ve been struggling with ways to maintain their smoking customer base since the smoking ban went into effect May 1. For one local restaurant, it wasn’t just the customers they were worried about, but nearly their entire staff smokes.

The new e-cigarettes appear to have answered some of their problems already.

“It’s just steam. It’s water vapor, but gives the nicotine of each of these cartridges is about a pack of cigarettes,” said Cindy Guillie who owns Guillie’s Coney Island.

The tobacco-free cigarettes that just emit vapor turned out to be the answer to a troubling problem for management at Guillie’s Coney Island in Genesee Township, where all by two of their employees smoke.

“With them not being able to smoke here-it because very difficult for them to work a whole shift.

As the smoking ban was approaching in Michigan, Guillie says she and her husband began investigating the concept of e-cigarettes.

So there’s no smell, and there’s very little taste. “They’re exempt from all smoking bans because there’s no tobacco in them, and you don’t light them,” Guillie explained.

Now Guillie and all her employees are using them and finding them cost effective. She considers e-cigarettes more environmentally friendly and even offer benefits to employees who are no longer inhaling tobacco smoke.

“Nicotine does not cause cancer. The tar in the cigarettes causes cancer,” Guillie said.

Since she recommended them for the employees, Guillie said the e-cigarette concept has been catching on. “We’ve been selling these things like hotcakes. In fact, some bars rent them because they’re completely harmless.”

While some of her smoking customers still are choosing to take their food to go and smoke and eat at picnic tables outside, the e-cigarettes are turning into a solution for many customers who are looking to sit inside as a break from their outdoor work.

“Sit down have coffee, have some pop and go back to work because it’s their break time. So this is a solution to it,” said Guillie.

Guillie said the smoking units cost about $100 each with rechargeable batteries, and it’s about $2 a nicotine cartridge that lasts a bit more than a normal pack.

BY Cathy Shafran
May 11, 2010