Electronic cigarette industry booming across U.S.

Electronic cigarette sales are high in Amarillo.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates one in five smokers in the U.S. tried an electronic cigarette also known as "e-cig" or "vape," in 2011. Tobacco analysts predict last year's sales of e-cigs to be as high as $1.7 billion.

Here in Amarillo, business is booming as well.

Alex Prather, manager of a local smoke shop called Green Gorilla, said they started selling e-cigs when they opened a few years ago and sales have taken off.

Prather said they started off with one shelf in the store, and now e-cigs and related products take up half the store.

"I mean, we're pretty much doubling per month," Prather said. "We just have trouble keeping up with the stock because it just keeps growing."

Stores that sell just e-cigs are opening around town as well. Lajuana McGehee opened up Mesquite Vapors about six months ago.

She visited Amarillo and realized the lack of shops that sold them.

"I was amazed at how many people in Amarillo actually were vaping before there was a vape shop. They were ordered off the internet or going to Oklahoma or going down to Dallas Forth Worth," McGehee said.

Despite the controversy, Prather and McGehee said health reasons are a big selling point of e-cigs.

They also said the cost for an e-cig is less than traditional cigarettes.

"It's just going to keep growing. I don't see a stop to it," Prather said.