by Sally Mitani
A Clean Cigarette has traded a Briarwood kiosk for a tiny shop in Lamp Post Plaza. The clinical looking space makes very little effort at visual seduction--if it's nicotine you're after, you probably know what this is all about, and you don't care. Behind a counter are white plastic boxes, labeled "vanilla," "coffee," cherry," and so forth, further sorted by dosage and price. Sean Bhatti, manager, says the company has several outlets around Michigan, and he also says this is the only store in town devoted entirely to electronic cigarettes.
"Disposable electronic cigarettes are sold in party stores and convenience stores," says Bhatti, "but those are of unknown strength. If you're not smoking your strength, you will not like it." Bhatti says his product is for all smokers, both those who are trying to quit nicotine and those who know they won't and are just looking for some damage control.
The "cigarette" is actually a small atomizer of liquid nicotine, ignited by a battery pack screwed into the other end. It doesn't look exactly like a cigarette--more like a pen--but you do inhale the mist and experience a sensation quite a bit like you get from smoking, but without the tar. It tastes cleaner than cigarettes, and the flavors are tastier than you would think, since they're not mixed with that heavy, bitter tang of real tobacco. (I say this because I tried it. I'll also admit that while I didn't buy the product, as someone who had her last cigarette fifteen years ago, I found it a disturbingly seductive experience.)
According to Bhatti, this type of electronic cigarette, with its rechargeable battery pack, is much cheaper over time than the disposable, convenience-store kind. He's there to set you up with the proper nicotine dose and let you test-drive as many flavors as you want.
A Clean Cigarette, 2366 E. Stadium, (989) 909-1449. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. acleancigarette.com
[Originally published in July, 2012.]
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