Selvaggia Gurrieri bought her electronic cigarette nearly two months ago and says it has helped her cut down on cigarettes. "I use it in places where I cannot smoke like in restaurants and at the movies and it has helped me cut down on the amount of cigarettes I smoke." However she now "smokes" in bed too, her non-smoking partner, added.
Another Roman, Marco Guerrieri, bought his first electronic cigarette three months ago and says he has already recouped the $100 approximate cost he spent on it as he has gone from smoking about 20 cigarettes to only five a day. "I don't know if it has really become a fashion yet but people know what it is now. I use it at the movies, at restaurants, in the airports and on planes...and nobody has once stopped me mistaking the vapor for smoke."
'I gave my girlfriend's father one for Christmas but he tried it for a day and gave it up. It was too complicated for him and too hard for him to switch now from the traditional cigarette."
Ray Story, CEO of The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said there was no proof e-cigarettes had ever harmed anyone and that attacks on e-cigarettes were more about protecting revenues than public health.
"In Italy, tobacco is sold through government stores. That old Mafioso-type environment protects its own," he said.
Story said e-cigarettes don't claim to help people quit smoking.
"Yes, nicotine is addictive, like caffeine and sugar. We're not in the non-addictive business. We cater to someone who is already a smoker. Starbucks sells coffee; Coca-Cola sells cola. Both have caffeine. But e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in the cleanest way," he said.
Regarding the Health Ministry's recommendation that e-cigarettes not be given to young people, Story said: "Not giving them to young people is common sense. … We have age verification on our products."
He scoffed at the concern that the use of this gadget could lead young people to graduate from these devices to smoking real cigarettes. "Yeah, and virgin daiquiris make people alcoholics. It's absolutely inaccurate; there's no proof," Story said.