Joel Holtz was tired of smoking. He hated everything about it and tried repeatedly to quit.
Nothing seemed to work, however, and Holtz could not give up his 20 year habit.
Then, he heard about electronic cigarettes, battery-operated devices that produce vapor laced with nicotine.
“I felt a hundred times better within days of quitting smoking. The color came back to my skin, I could finally breath again,” Holtz told Nashville's News 2.
E-cigs are a fairly new and growing phenomenon.
David Pellicane, also a former smoker, owns Nashville Vapor, which was one of the first e-cigarette stores in the city.
“We're not trying to recruit anybody to get on board with vaping. Primarily this is for adults who have been smoking for a good portion of their lives and have tried every other method out there and this is just another alternative and hopefully, for a lot of people one that will actually work,” said Pellicane.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates tobacco products, is observing e-cigarettes but currently does not regulate them.
Health risks of the popular devices are still in question.
“You don't know what you're getting, you don't know what it's being heated with, you don't know what the long-term effects will be,” said Barbara Forbes who directs the Dayani Center's Smoking Cessation and Prevention Workshop at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The increasing popularity of the devices is forcing many companies to change their policies to treat e-cigarettes like real cigarettes.
Some businesses, including Starbucks, have already banned use of the product.
Tennessee teens can't buy cigarettes in person, but kids younger than 18 can buy them online.
Tennessee's attorney general is pushing for tougher rules on the devices. He and top lawyers from 37 other states want the FDA to put restrictions on how e-cigarettes are marketed to young people.
Holtz believes e-cigarettes are the future of smoking.
“I haven't put it down yet. I still enjoy it very much. I get more satisfaction out of this device than any cigarette,” said Holtz.
E-cigarettes range in cost from approximately $15 up to a few hundred dollars for the more expensive kits.