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FDA Investigation

It looks like, puffs like, but isn't a cigarette.

There's no tar or tobacco in the electronic device called Smoking Everywhere, but because there is real nicotine, the Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether e-cigarettes should be regulated - like the nicotine patch or nicotine gum.

Both the patch and gum are sold to help people quit smoking.

Ohad Naim, who owns the Smoking Everywhere franchise at Grapevine Mills Mall, says there is no comparison. "The electronic cigarette is not a cessation device," he said. "It's more a product that will help people smoke in a healthier way and give them the convenience to smoke everywhere."

However, the Smoking Everywhere refill filters do come in what some might consider "step-down "doses - from high nicotine content to medium and low.

While marketing materials for Smoking Everywhere include the universal "no smoking" symbol, there is also a "Stop Smoking" sign at the outlet's booth - something that might get the FDA's attention.

"Again, we're not trying to market as a cessation device that will help people to quit smoking," Naim insisted.

But Rhena Panos was buying the e-cigarette for just that purpose. "I've smoked for - gosh ? over 40 years, and I've done everything there is out there to try, and so I'll give this a try," she said.

The FDA has acted on other so-called smoking alternatives. Nicotine Water was pulled off the market in 2002. It came in flavors and was suspected of being targeted at children.

After being reformulated, Nicotine Water returned for sale four years later.

Smoking Everywhere also comes in "fun flavors," including chocolate and cherry, but Naim emphasizes that it is not a product for underage users.

"For people under the age of 18, we do not sell it," he said.

Then he showed us the new "pink" Smoking Everywhere cigarette.

But unless and until the FDA rules otherwise, Smoking Everywhere remains on sale with no restrictions.

The FDA would not comment on its investigation, which is believed to focus on whether the e-cigarette should be classified as a "medical device."

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