Large e-cigarette store opens on 23rd Street; part of Iowa street, multiple crosswalks approved for new pavement markings

I still don’t have this e-cigarette trend figured out. I would think it would take an awful long extension cord to make it convenient.

Actually, I’m told that’s not how it works. If you want to figure out how it does work, there’s no shortage of locations in town where you can learn. We reported on the city’s first stand-alone e-cigarette store, Juice-E-Vapes on East 23rd Street, in November. Several more have popped up since then, and it now appears there is a large new player in the market.

Aqueous Vapor has opened up in a large new space next to Myers Liquor at 23rd and Alabama streets. Co-owner Jay Yeager told me the 2,000-square-foot store is the largest in his chain of seven stores. The location carries 250 different flavors of vaping juice that mimic the taste of everything from traditional cigarettes to soda pop to coffee to banana nut bread.

In addition to selling the product, the store also has a large lounge area, complete with video games, where customers can relax and enjoy an e-cigarette.

If you are not familiar with the product, an e-cigarette is a battery-operated, flameless device that heats a juice mixture that can contain flavors and nicotine. When heated, it produces a water vapor that can be inhaled to simulate tobacco smoke. But because the device doesn’t have a flame, e-cigarettes aren’t covered under the state’s smoking ban. They also aren’t covered under the city of Lawrence’s smoking ban.

Some advocates have touted e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative than smoking. Some have said they are a good way to wean people off of tobacco. But there have been articles saying that the potential negative health impacts of e-cigarettes aren’t well understood. I’ll let you figure all that out on your own.

But I think it will be an interesting industry to watch. As I mentioned, the stores seemingly are popping up everywhere. In addition to Aqueous, there is a new retailer that has opened on second-floor space in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street in downtown.

Those retailers perhaps are making a bet that Lawrence won’t take any action to include e-cigarettes in its smoking ban. Thus far, I haven’t heard any talk at City Hall that indicates such an addition is likely. But, as we previously have reported, Kansas University and Lawrence public schools both have taken steps to include e-cigarettes as part of their smoking bans.

And according to a new article I read from a website published by The Atlantic, it appears cities are starting to add e-cigarettes to their smoking bans. As of late April, 172 cities had included electronic smoking devices as part of their smoking bans. That was up from 100 in January. Thus far, it doesn’t appear any city in Kansas has taken such action. According to a list compiled by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, it appears the closest city to Lawrence that has included e-cigarettes as part of their ban is Jefferson City, Mo.

I honestly can’t say that I have heard any complaints about e-cigarettes showing up in bars or restaurants around town. But, we’ll see what the future brings.

In other news and notes from around town:

• Now that I understand e-cigarettes better, perhaps I’ll use my really long extension cord to power a homemade, eye-in-the-sky traffic helicopter. (I’m telling you, I need a traffic helicopter this summer, and one of those cool Air Force hats that says “Chopper Chad” on it.)

In the meantime, I’ll just do my best to report on the latest traffic projects the old fashioned way. Look for a little bit more work to take place on Iowa Street near 15th and Bob Billings Parkway. I know what you are thinking: There is already major work at 23rd and Iowa, and activity is ramping up for a reconstruction of the intersection at Sixth and Iowa street. But don’t worry, this project shouldn’t take long, and it will address an issue some of you have been complaining about.

City commissioners have approved a bid to add better pavement markings on the part of Iowa Street that was reconstructed last year. Area company C-HAWKK won a nearly $85,000 bid to conduct the work on Iowa Street, plus improve the markings of several crosswalks around town.

Look for the work on the Iowa Street pavement markings to begin this month. Work on the crosswalks is expected to last into July.

As for why pavement markings are needed on a new stretch of road, that’s because weather conditions at the end of the reconstruction project last year prevented the city from installing the permanent lane markings and such. Temporary lines were painted, and they have begun to fade badly.

In terms of the crosswalks, here’s a list of intersections slated for new markings: Second and McDonald; Third and Kansas Turnpike; 19th and Haskell; 19th and Kentucky; 23rd and Massachusetts; 25th and Iowa, 27th and Iowa; 31st and U.S. Post Office; Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa.

That’s all I have at the moment, but I’ll keep my eyes open. Who knows, maybe from a chopper at some point. Although, should I be worried that my wife is enthusiastically offering to buy me the parts for my homemade helicopter?