The e-cigarette has ignited debate, and sales, in Winnipeg.

The product looks and functions like the real thing, but you inhale vapour, not smoke. The “e-juice” inside the e-cigarettes contain water, flavoring and sometime nicotine.

Winnipeg's first store dedicated to the product, Fat Panda, opened at the end of December. Co-owner Jordan Vendoya said they sell out of product regularly. He credits e-cigarettes for helping him quit smoking.

“You’re not getting the tar, you’re not getting the formaldehyde, the arsenic,” said Vendoya.

However, e-cigarettes are unregulated and not yet proven safe by Health Canada.

The Manitoba Lung Association worries they may influence kids and undo decades of effort to restrict smoking.

“There's an uptake in e-cigarette use and the act of smoking becomes re-popularized,” said Tracy Fehr, spokesperson for the Manitoba Lung Association.

E-cigarettes have potential as a cessation tool, said Fehr, but only after more research.

E-cigarette products containing nicotine need approval by Health Canada before they can be sold here. However, according to Vendoya a loophole allows stores to sell the nicotine products, as long as they aren't marketed as tobacco cessation aids.