Smoking: Going up in Vapor?
Get the scoop on this steamy new trend
The vaporizing industry, or Vaping as it is more commonly called, is a growing multi-billion-dollar global business. It is even catching on here in Aberdeen, with one vaping store in town boasting a customer base of over 350. Despite its incredible growth, many still have little idea what it is all about.
In short, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor produced by an electric device called a vaporizer. The most well-known form of vaporizer is the e-cigarette, but these are just a small fraction of what’s on the market. E-cigarettes come with pre-filled cartridges that need to be replaced and have a very limited selection of flavors or strengths. Advanced Personal Vaporizers (APVs) such as Vape Pens or Vape Mods are usually larger, can produce more vapors, and allow for a vast array of flavors and nicotine strengths.
All vaporizers use a small battery charge to convert e-liquid into vapor, which is then inhaled. E-liquid is made up of a base of vegetable glycerin, which produces the vapor, propylene glygol, which is a thinning agent found in many asthma inhalers, food-grade flavoring, and varying strengths of pharmaceutical-grade nicotine, although there are many nicotine-free e-liquids as well.
While e-cigarettes are readily available at most gas stations or stores where cigarettes are found, most vapers will get there supplies from a vape store. The wide selection of vaporizers, which can run anywhere from $40 to $400, and the wide array of flavors one can choose make it difficult for a convenience store to meet the needs of the customer.
The various flavors are what tend to drive the sales of repeat customers, as the options are as limitless as the creator’s imagination. From simple fruit flavors to more complex flavors such as bananas flambé or birthday cake, vape juice teases the taste buds while settling that nicotine craving. Many vape shops make up their own vape juice recipes, which enables them to provide an individualized service to their clientele. The flavors are usually produced in a certified lab to ensure product purity and precise nicotine levels. For example, one vape shop here in Aberdeen has its juices made in a lab in Watertown.
The flavors, however, draw more than a loyal customer base. One of the biggest criticisms lobbied against the vaping industry is that the flavors cater to children with the desire to get them hooked on nicotine. Although many are worried about the draw of vaping on teenagers, the Aberdeen Public School District reports very few incidents of vaping on campus, certainly no more than regular smoking.
While many tout the health benefits of vaping over cigarette smoking, there are many who are skeptical about the long-term effects of this new craze. The American Heart Association is careful to state that while vaping is healthier than cigarette smoking, they stop short of calling it healthy. The two biggest unknowns connected to the health risks of vaping are that it is t
oo new to judge long- term effects and the variety of flavors make it nearly impossible to test all the unique chemical combinations. This is also the case with the risks associated with secondhand vapors. Although the exhaled vapor is far less visible than cigarette smoke, it is still present. Most likely these vapors are still less harmless than exhaled smoke, but how much so is still uncertain.
Still the purported health benefits are what attract most people to vaping, mostly to quit smoking. The vaporizer allows the individual to consume nicotine without the risks of inhaling the smoke of burning tobacco. Many who make the switch claim significant health improvements such as having more energy, increased lung-capacity, and overall better health.
Although the FDA has started regulating the industry more closely, it seems vaping is going to be around for a while. // –Michael Bommarito