The Not-So-Great Vape Escape: Sociologically Reflecting on the Anti-Vaping Movement

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VAPE-April201596The Not-So-Great Vape Escape: Sociologically Reflecting on the Anti-Vaping Movement

Words and photos by
Anthony J. Ottomanelli II

For the year 2014, Oxford Dictionary named its Word of the Year “vape” due to its ever-increasing popularity. Coincidentally, 2014 is the same year in which I was able to quit smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, with professional assistance all due in part to Oxford’s Word of the Year. Proud to say, I’m now at a level of full-time vaping and have not had an actual tobacco cigarette in one whole year. In fact, after smoking a traditional cigarette a few weeks after turning solely to vaping, I became ill and nauseated. Therefore, I’ll never go back. Vaping is here to stay in my life. However, is it here to stay in my town state or even my country?

Once more, the “United” States is steadily and surely becoming divided on yet another topic that has been spun into a developing unnecessary social issue lingering over the edge of becoming a much bigger societal problem. Basically, vaping has entered the territory of being identified as a potential threat to health and humanity. Sadly, the continuous surge of vaping propaganda, whether in support of or against it, is now a potential fortune to be had on both sides of the coin, naturally another American Masterpiece. As a sociologist I am inclined to relentlessly question such behaviors, values and overall methods. It is therefore my sociological duty to pursue any type of resolution that only can be fueled by ideals of rationality and logic.

The primary reason why there has been so much skepticism about vaping is simply because it appears to resemble the action of smoking traditional cigarettes. If the public is told that vaping is just as bad as or worse than smoking cigarettes, then they’ll regrettably believe in these counterfeit claims. Even though vaping is a long way away from sharing any similarities of smoking tobacco-based cigarettes, besides the obvious appearance of how it is administered, the general public will remain as the most gullible. We tend to believe the first thing we hear about something unfamiliar or even more popular nowadays; we usually also believe whatever is reported to us by the mainstream. Over the past 10 years or so, we’ve heard nothing nearly as negative about vaping as we have been hearing very recently. If you have yet to hear anything so robustly negative about vaping, then you’ll certainly be seeing it very soon, coming to a theater near you. Vape bans are rapidly spreading all over the county—whether big city-living or small-town slumming—these bans are everywhere.

During the summer days of 2014, in the tourist-attracting, scenic town of Golden, Colo., there were restaurant patrons seated on outdoor patios who supposedly became exceedingly irritated with all the people smoking or vaping outside or simply passing by on the sidewalks. From this, there were apparently numerous complaints of ruined appetites and spoiled meals directly linked to the impossible concept of second-hand vapor. The 2015 vaping/smoking ban in downtown Golden was based on these unexplainable disturbances in which only City Council was able to vote on this subject matter. A writer for the Denver Post, Josie Klemaier, wrote the Golden City Council concluded that local businesses would suffer the cost of decreased business opportunities from losing customers (http://www.denver-post.com/golden/ci_26432351/golden-passes-outdoor-smoking-vaping-ban). Keep in mind, this vaping/smoking ban is not merely for indoor public locations, this ban inexplicably forbids the use of vaping devices and traditional cigarettes anywhere outdoors. We can’t embrace the art of vaping inside somewhere, nor can we partake in it outside.

This anti-vaping movement merely is based on the notion that if these deliciously-scented, quick-to-disappear vapor clouds were to come into contact with any potential customers for all the small-businesses downtown, then the consequence would be an economic backlash of unpredictable measures. Since my family owns a restaurant in downtown Golden, I can speak on behalf of a few local business owners and assure any skeptics that the ideas of lost business or a tarnished customer base will not be an inescapable effect from the mere sight or smell of vapor’s presence. In hindsight, realistically, the vaping/smoking ban may very well create exactly what it claims to be attempting the prevention of.

Although no action has yet to be taken by any Golden locals or outsiders, there still are many individuals to discuss this controversial topic with. From my steady inquisition of questioning nearby residents, mainly those who live downtown, where the ban is forced upon the public to obey it thus becomes clear that many want to do something, even if that something is to speak out on the issue. One resident living right in the middle of this mountain town’s downtown, Daniel Chafetz, said, “To impede on an individual’s right to vape or smoke in the open air is downright offensive to the very concept of American rights, which is supposed to be out-lined in our nation’s Constitution as having the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Just imagine how our Founding Fathers would have reacted. If the Golden City Council members were properly educated, (story continues below)

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(continued from above)… they would be much more concerned about polluted air than the occasional smoker/vaper on the street.” (http://www.denverpost.com/golden/ci_27566792/golden-city-manager-mike-bestor-announces-retirement)

Keep in mind, this Golden resident who made these comments is a non-smoker and non-vaper, yet Chafetz still maintains the Golden ban is pure hypocrisy, shameful and unconstitutional.

Considering this, many Golden residents who I was able to speak with concerning the smoking/vaping ban that went into effect Jan. 1 all seemed to have identical words to express. I had brief interactions with local residents and out-of-towners in downtown Golden. Many of the locals whom I had brief interactions with would simply reply “It’s so stupid. It makes no sense!” As if that vocal result was not entertaining enough, the responses I received from tourists or non-residents seemed to also reply with the same blanket-statement each and every time, also very amusing, they would typically state, “I had no idea that was even a legitimate thing here.” The next best thing was the other most-popular reply I heard was along the lines of simply stating, “I didn’t even know we couldn’t smoke. You aren’t allowed to vape either? Why?” All of these recorded statements surely were all characterized by an obvious state of pure bewilderment.

After my social-interaction methodologies were embraced by many of the Golden street wanderers, I decided to try and acquire information by collecting any rational explanation from those who had the power to strip away such freedoms to begin with. With limited resources and ticking time, I tried to contact a few key members of Golden’s City Council, especially focusing on the city manager, Mike Bestor. Bestor never answered any of my requests for a comment. Then I read the local newspaper, The Golden Transcript. The Transcript featured a story involving Bestor announcing his retirement, just barely after one month had passed by since the ban went into effect. According to the Transcript article, the retiring city manager is stepping down to pursue other adventures. What could possibly be more adventurous?

Overall, the public is just too afraid to educate themselves on the factual information about vaping and perhaps explain to their children what vaping is and why people choose to partake in it. It’s almost far too obvious; the shortsighted anti-vaping affiliates are fearful. Fearful that there is something new out there they should learn more about; fearful of their own confusion; fearful because they honestly have no clue what vaping literally consists of. But the antidote to their fears is already here, vaping is that antidote because vaping has unquestionably changed lives and will continue to change lives, allowing former smokers to drastically alter their lifestyles for the better. However, people tend to fear what they don’t understand. Yet, we must understand this: our fears are our own and can never be overcome unless we unlock close-mindedness and walk into the direction of those fears.

Nevertheless, no one in particular is saying that vaping is a health craze; we’re just expressing how much we believe it to be much healthier than smoking tobacco cigarettes. Regardless, perhaps the scientific research published by prestigious medical journals and other publications are being “spun” by the mainstream media, interpreting scientific findings incorrectly? Or, is our country’s populace simply fearful of what they don’t know the slightest thing about? Is it the fact that there are not yet any long-term studies able to be conducted on the health risks of vaping? Are all of these vape bans happening in cities and universities across the country merely just a pawn in a much bigger chess game of financial gain from other opportunities consisting of unrelated profitable business ventures? Are small town governments receiving payoffs from private enterprises? The possibilities are endless, yet not nearly as everlasting as the vast amount of vaping propaganda that has swiftly saturated the market as well as stamping a permanent stain in the social fabric of America’s uncertain perspective about vaping, our vision of tomorrow and foresight for the future. Then again, the very act of vaping itself is our future, so I guess everyone better learn how to share because the time is now, the end is not here and the future we must share is much closer than it is near.

 

Eurozoned: The King’s New Vape

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VAPE-April201590 Eurozoned: The King’s New Vape

By Dave Cross

Once upon a time there was a king so exceedingly fond of new vape gear that he spent all his money on acquiring mods, atomizers and all manner of wicking materials. He cared nothing about appraising his soldiers; he preferred to sit in front of Ye Olde YouTube reviewers seeing today’s greatest thing … and it was always better than the other thing he purchased the preceding day.

His magisterial desk was replete with mods of every hue and, instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The king’s in council,” here they always said. “The liege’s busy recoiling an atomizer with Ni200 wire and some Muji cotton.”

But heed this, there is no Hans Christian Andersen tale residing in these words. If anything it lends itself more to Albert Camus: “A man defines himself by his make-believe as well as by his sincere impulses.” No swindlers will come to call on our enthroned regent. And yet all of us, including our fictitious highness, encounter weavers coming to call.

The weavers do not come bearing magnificent invisible clothing; ours take to language and video to create scenes of vaping equipment that consistently break new boundaries. Like a razor bearing additional blades, the equipment we are being sold for our tomorrows is clearly an improvement on the things we used last month—it has to be otherwise they’d not have invented it?

“That would be just the temperature-controlled mod for me,” thought the king. “If I used it I would be able to discover which mods in my kingdom are unfit for their atomizers. And I could tell the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get one right away.” And the king paid a vendor a large sum of money to order an improved vaping experience without delay.

We exist within a vaping fairy tale—Snow White and the seven drippers, the Sleeping Beauty of the regulated display. Entirely made-up characters like Rip van Twisted pepper our consciousness with words like “whoooeee” and insist we believe that “she’s a real performer!” as they sell the notion of a cloudier future.

The message displayed on mods across the globe “New coil up, same coil down” carries such Animal Farm redolence that it strikes me we ought to be circumspect. Again, breathe easy, I’m not arguing that we are at the behest of a committee of pigs but that message is tinged with tones akin to “all vapers are equal, but some vapers are more equal than others.”

Orwell’s Benjamin the donkey knows, like Eeyore before him, how it is: “Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly.” He is, of course, not applying himself to global politics, as literary experts would have you believe, but simply to vape life. Benjamin knew that the quality of my vaping experience coming from a mech mod and a Kanthal coil is nigh on indistinguishable from the one I’m now obtaining courtesy of chip-inspired supervision.

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos is not captive in a tall tower, his flaxen locks cascading out the window in the hope that Professor Glantz will climb up to join him and share his view. There is nothing made up regarding his initial findings linking coil temperature to toxin manufacture, which has driven his desire to pursue further crowd-funded research.

Reviewers lauded news of the technological leap that encompassed a facility to banish dry hits, dirty wicks and counter toxin production. Rip van Twisted, when he descends from supping moonshine in the mountains, will be “sick as bits” to discover how the regulated market has moved on.

Back to our king.

The monarch dispatched his most trusted old minister to the vape shop to inspect and collect his new addition. “He’ll be the best one to tell me how it looks and performs, for he’s a sensible man and no one does his duty better.”

The minister knew he was being charged to return with a tale of excellence and set about forming the perfect coil. Never was a happy ending harder to achieve due to the springy wire and the coils required to reach a frighteningly low 0.15Ω. Once finished he shuffled off to the store.

The merchant pointed out the process to change temperature but the emissary was too busy trying to convince the box that he didn’t want “voltage.” He bit his lip when the resistance reading began bouncing up and down. He kept his own council when the display suddenly began showing gibberish.

Eventually, having unscrewed and reattached the freshly primed RTA, he drank deep in heavy VG vapors. “Heaven help me,” he thought as his eyes flew wide open, “I can’t notice any real difference at all.” But he dare not say.

The vendor invited the wizened ambassador to inspect the wick after the custard was finished. “Look at the luster,” they implored him. “Have you ever witnessed such a regal display after a full tank?” The poor old minister stared as hard as he dared. He couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see.

“Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be his Majesty’s vaper? It would never do to let on that I couldn’t see passed the blackness.” So the old envoy enthused: “What a wonder, what a delight, I shall inform his kingness by nightfall!”

“What’s this?” thought the king, as he vaped his new mod. “I can’t tell the difference. Am I a fool? Am I unfit to be the king?” It simply wouldn’t do to announce a taste of burnt cotton to the court. “Oh! It’s incredible,” he said. “It has my highest approval.”

“But it’s just a box like all the others,” a little child said. “Only much more complicated.”

*Similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental, apologies to Hans Christian Andersen and fantasists everywhere.

Dave Cross is a writer, biker, vaper, ever-more rotund punk and perpetual disappointment to his parents. According to his wife he is frequently wrong about most things. Follow Dave Cross on Twitter @MawsleyX.

VAPE-April201591

The War on Regulations: Where Does the FDA Stand?

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VAPE-April201576 The War on Regulations: Where Does the FDA Stand?

By Mark Benson, Guest Columnist

Is the FDA balanced in its approach to the vaping industry?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently is in year four of a “two-year” review of the vaping industry. This is a review that has been hampered by legal issues, slow movement and even today, four years after the review was launched, there still is no definitive timescale for new regulations. This has caused many in the vaping community to question whether the FDA is balanced in its approach to the industry and whether the ongoing review is fair.

The FDA has history with the vaping community.

Many people may not be aware that the FDA only a few years ago attempted to effectively ban electronic cigarettes outright. This move had been rubberstamped by the administration only for a High Court challenge to rule against the ban forcing the FDA into an embarrassing U-turn. Against this background it is not difficult to see why many people believe the FDA is unbalanced in its approach to the sector with a potential bias against the industry.

That said, the role of the FDA is to effectively protect U.S. consumers and ensure that all products and services are safe. This slow approach to vaping regulations is in the eyes of some of the overcautious, while others believe passionately this is an issue that needs to be addressed correctly. If it was not for the number of false dawns, when the FDA has apparently suggested regulations were around the corner, many people would agree with the latter comment. But it is the confusion, misinformation and news vacuum that appears to be playing into the hands of the critics.

Local authorities are introducing vaping regulations.

There is no doubt that the ongoing FDA investigation/review of the industry has caused a significant information vacuum. This has allowed critical politicians and local authorities to jump on the bandwagon to restrict electronic cigarettes with many attempting to treat them in a similar fashion to their tobacco counterparts. The fact that these types of products are different in so many ways does not appear to have been appreciated by critical politicians with many seemingly more interested in replacing falling tobacco tax income.

It is ironic that we could see the release of data on 100 long-term medical trials into the use of electronic cigarettes and 99 would be very positive with perhaps one asking uncomfortable questions. We can only guess why politicians seem keen to focus on the negative research as opposed to those which seem to support the industry. There are those who will suggest this is paranoia at the highest level from vaping supporters, but just this week (as of press time) we saw a U.K. professor confirming it was more difficult to interest the wider press in positive vaping research, with a greater appetite for sensationalism/controversial headlines.

Is the FDA stalling?

There is a growing belief that the FDA has let down the vaping community due to the fact it has taken so long to arrive at the situation today with no regulations in place. Even if the FDA had come out and suggested strict regulations of the industry, with data to back the move, then at least we would be moving forward and any confusion would be removed. There is a growing suspicion that the FDA is stalling on the introduction of federal electronic cigarette regulations creating the information vacuum referred to earlier that has allowed local states to take the lead.

At this moment in time, could you realistically defend the position and the actions of the FDA?

Mark Benson is the SEO and social media marketing manager for OK Premium Quality Electronic Cigarettes.

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Lifting the Fog: Innovation Prayer

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VAPE-April201570 Lifting the Fog: Innovation Prayer

By CJ Caswell

Can we take a moment to reflect on just how badass this industry is?

We have gone from zero to light-speed in fewer than five years. Five years ago, the Puresmoker Prodigy was nice tech. The idea of an iStick 50w would have been laughable. The major stages all have happened in fast forward: from the first tepid steps into mechs driven by CR123 camera batteries, to the standardization of the 510 connector, then on to the domestication of the tank system into user-friendly systems like the eGo. Recently, we enjoyed our own version of the horsepower wars. A few e-liquid makers are starting to become household names nationwide: I’ve had people visiting my town in Kansas ask me if I carry their favorite brand of premium juice, and I’ve been able to say yes. We’ve got devices of every size and shape, rapidly increasing in quality and technological integration. We have flavors that can rival Coke in likability and fine liquors in complexity.

I had to say all that because it is completely inexcusable to be ungrateful. I really like my industry. That being said, there still are some things we could use in this market that haven’t been developed, and I’m going to throw three of them out there. You’re reading a vape shop owner’s prayer. These things need to be made before I find some spare time and have them made myself. And while the poverty wage wizards in China obviously hold the key to making any of them affordable, anyone can play with the ideas and could probably find a way to commission one done right.

1.) The Tester Tank
Has no one else noticed that there is no clearo or tank on the market that makes the “perfect” taste tester? The requirements are simple:

    • It must be cheap, because people break things and most shops have scores of flavor options.
    • It must be bottom coil, because top coil wicks dry out and you don’t want a customer starting off their experience in your shop with a dry hit.
    • The coil must be removable, because things get gross after a while.
    • They must be top-fill with a bottom that can’t be unscrewed, because if it isn’t, every customer who removes the tester from the battery is going to hold it by the tank portion, unscrew it from the coil base, and spill the liquid everywhere, and no amount of warnings or signage can change that.
    • And finally, it must be extremely unlikely to leak.

It could be single or dual coil, and while pyrex would be nice, plastic has advantages so long as the liquid doesn’t sit in there long enough to absorb any chemicals. Less capacity is actually better than more, as testers that don’t get filled as often tend to start tasting bad. The testers at my shop needed very good flavor since we sell high-end juice, so after starting with weak CE4 clearos, we switched to dual coil tanks with bottoms that screw off. New customers help that juice escape too often. We need a miracle, and I doubt we’re the only shop with that issue.

Unfortunately, our savior does not yet exist. The RBC, the T2 and T3, the iClear 16, the Vision Nano, the Aspire BDC, all fail to make the cut in some way. You see the problem: a removable bottom coil needs to have a coil base that can be unscrewed to access it. I bet anyone could solve this issue with 30 seconds of thought, because all you need to do is make it impossible to unscrew it without actually meaning to unscrew it.

2.)  More 26650 Regulated Mods

The way I read it, development of the 26650 battery got screwed over here, because the 18650 is the battery that Tesla automobiles uses in their electric cars. Every major battery maker pushed their R&D money into that platform, trying to grab the contract (it eventually went to Panasonic), and abandoned 26650 batteries in the process.

In an alternate universe, the 26650 could be a better battery. But even in this sad continuum, the platform still has advantages, especially now that so many people have moved to regulated mods. The big cell can handle marginally higher loads and, most importantly, has a much longer lifespan, with 4000 mAh being standard. The prom queen 18650 still struggles to hold 2500 mAh in high-amp form, which means users of the iPV2X or XPro constantly ask me if they can either buy magnets for the compartment door or just leave it off, so often do they change their batteries. An 18650 mod will never last as long as a 26650 mod. You could make a fantastic regulated mod in the 50-80 watt range that could fire down to a .2 Ohm load safely, ready to pair with the new Arctic tank or even a few drippers. And it would last all day.

Even if it didn’t, unlike the iStick 50, you could swap the battery. It would not be small, but of the popular models out right now, only the iStick is really pocket size. Really, (story continues below)…

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(continued from above)…

a good 26650 just needs to be small enough to fit in the hand comfortably, which is why I loathe the tendency for designers to look at that big battery and put it in a huge mod, like the Babel or the EHPro Mars. When I used the Mars, I loved the battery life, but that thing was a pain to run around with. Besides, something about those giant phallic bastards just screams “compensating.”

So what are the choices right now for reasonably-sized 26650 regulated mods in the 50-80 watt range? The only one I’ve seen is the Itsuwa Chain Reaction, which only fires down to a .5 Ohm load. The pickings are quite slim.

3. A New Spinner
When I say “Spinner,” I’m including similar devices like the Smok Winder and the Aspire CF VV, but you know which was first. The Spinner battery is a classic device for beginners or people stepping up from an eGo starter kit battery, and I mean no disrespect. I like selling it in starter kits as a first rig, since people seem to stay satisfied with it longer than they do a fixed-voltage battery. But it has its downsides. The most obvious is the shape. Do you have any idea how many customers put their Spinner in their back pocket and happily stop thinking about it, only to sit down and hear a nice loud CRUNCH! informing them that they just crushed their equipment and are sitting in their own juices?

The long, thin stick shape was inspired by cigarettes and needs to go. We certainly don’t need all that length: anything longer than a 900 mAh eGo is foolish and a pain to carry in a front pocket. You can’t stand it on its butt end, as it’s too easy to topple, and yet most good clearos and tanks are bottom fed and should be oriented this way to stay soaked. We can do better than this, can’t we?

Aside from the tobacco companies, the industry seemed to just forget about the beginner’s market following the release of the Atlantis, but it’s still very much there. If you want to keep stealing all this lovely market share from analogs, then more design variety in the entry-level eGo-style realm would be a great idea. Those are my seemingly useful ideas at the moment. If you want to use one, just go ahead. All I need is a hefty kickback, a Lexus, my face on the dime (to hell with Roosevelt), and your sister’s phone number, and there will be no legal ramifications out of me.

CJ Caswell

Army combat vets can be dangerous, and things only get worse when they hold degrees in history and economics, like CJ Caswell. On top of that, Caz owns Manhattan Vapors in Manhattan, Kansas. He insists that this happens because his life is epic, a product of natural born awesomeness.

Vaping From the Outside: The She-Vaper

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By Susan Oser

April is a special month for women, especially April 14, 2015. This is Equal Pay Day, when women celebrate the fact that, for at least one day, their pay is the same as their male counterparts. Now, this might not mean much to you, but if you think about such a male-dominated industry as vaping and e-cigarettes, it can and should mean a lot.

I’ve been involved with several professional women’s groups for some time. Being involved in these groups has helped me not only learn about activism, but to support those women who have taken the plunge and stuck their necks out into a world or a career that is dominated by men. Because of that, I’d like to honor those women in the community and say to you, “You go girl!”

While sex does sell, it is nice to see a few women in the industry who are not just those flashy models with a mod in their hands in sexy poses. I’m talking about those women who are the owners of their own juice line, accessories line, show hosts and more. Women such as Rhonda Sellers of Angel’s Heavenly Designs, Jeannie K of the Jeannie K Show, Tinker Evol of Evol Pixie Premium E-Liquid and Jenee Fowler (to name a few) are taking the idea of women in vaping to a whole different level. They don’t let the idea of just being a woman stop them. In fact, they are doing what they’re doing because they have a passion for the industry and want to help the community live a better lifestyle.

This can even be seen with online broadcasters (such as myself) who have changed the face of what the female vaper is all about. We are NOT just a pretty face. Just to clarify, I’m not just talking about those women who are partnering up and working with their husbands or boy-friends to make a living. I’m talking about those women who are going out there and striking out on their own, walking to the beat of their own drummer, and in some respects changing or creating their own rules for success. These are the women who have earned respect and support within and outside of the vaping community.

As for myself, I have to admit that I’m still kind of new at this. So far, I have my own show (as well as cohost a show with biker granny who is a great artist and vaping activist), am trying to get a knitted accessory line (and kind of struggling with it) and writing about vaping. With my learning experiences as well as this industry being a new creative outlet for me, I know that I’ve been crossing my own boundaries in my own way, and I’m pretty damn proud of that.

I don’t worry about the fact that I’m female. If there are men who don’t like what I do, I’m fine with that. What I’d like to see and do within my own vaping life is to network and get to know those powerful female figures in vaping who are currently kicking ass.

 I think that as the women of vaping come together and show that we can work as a team or create some organizational support for ourselves, it will teach the rest of the industry that while there may be catty drama, and we may have some political, religious and philosophical differences, at the end of the day, we all have that one thing in common: vaping and our rights as vapers.

Women who come into the industry might inspire not just women who vape, but all women, to take the plunge and start a business. If you are a woman and are looking to get into this industry, what are you waiting for? This is an industry with a lot of potential. If you are remotely interested in networking and forming some connections at local vape meets, women’s organizations and national vape conventions, research online for resources and try to connect with the women who were mentioned in this article as well as myself. We’d love to get to know you and help you out in any way.

Someone on a vape show once said, “We need more women in vaping. Where are they?” My response to that is simple: There are women in vaping. Some of them are well known and some of them not so well-known. You just need to open your eyes. In fact, talk to a few people and you just might find them. If you do, make sure you support them NOT just because they are female, but because they support the same industry and movement that you do (as a vaper).

Susan E. Oser aka Angelwriterspeaks is a host on Monday nights on Vapenet (http:// http://vapenet.com/); (https://www.facebook.com/CreativeAngelwriter). For her day job she is an online tutor and part-time freelance writer. She is a passionate activist for vaping rights. Find her at http://angel-writercreations.weebly.com/ http://twitter.com/angelwriter78 and https://www.facebook.com/Angelwriterspeaks?ref=hl. You can also buy her knitted accessories (esp for you the vapor) at https://www.facebook.com/knitzyknitz. Contact her at angelwritercreations@gmail.com.

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Why So Many Vapor Haters?

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By Cynthia Cabrera

This industry is fascinating and exciting. It’s also extremely frustrating and confusing, but that’s not surprising because like every other industry, the vapor industry is really people. The folks who had an idea and ran with it and the ones who created businesses that now employ thousands and the ancillary businesses that support the sale distribution and marketing of vapor products.

This amazing industry is under an attack the likes of which no one was remotely prepared for. There are challenges from legislators and regulators and public health officials and city council members … and these are the well-meaning people. The media constantly is having its way with all things vapor—from fear mongering on TV to articles with inaccurate and misleading information. Let’s not even get started on the public health or science communities. In short, this industry has no shortage of threats it has to deal with on a daily basis.

Normally, this plethora of threats would drive an industry to work together, knowing that the minor differences they have will be eclipsed by the danger of not standing united. There would be no question that safety lies in numbers and going it alone is not an option. Encouraging consensus and building alliances would be on the to-do list every day. Not in the vapor world.

The willingness and speed with which “vapor drama” can take priority over the far more important issues of advocacy and protection of the category is mind-boggling. So many people pay lip service to the idea of advocacy and unity but show their real character by focusing on issues that provide no value.

Individuals with no business credentials or advocacy background create disharmony by causing drama and those who pay attention take their focus off of the important issues at hand. Smart individuals are sometimes drawn into an attempt to “educate” these folks but the reality is that if no one is listening, no amount of noise from troublemakers will be heard.

As kids we are told to remain silent if we don’t have some-thing positive to say about others. In the vapor industry, those who don’t have anything positive to say about them-selves try to get attention by bad-mouthing others.

It has to stop.

In the two years since I began as executive director of SFATA, our membership has grown substantially, currently at nearly 400 members from the six we had when I started. We have rolled out very successful chapters; have raised money for advocacy work and other expenses; and are making great strides helping the industry claiming its rightful place in the market.

One of the great things about watching an organization grow is that it matures because the members mature in the business dealings, standards, ethics and behavior. One reason I believe we have been so successful is that we attempt to avoid the vapor drama and work on what’s really important to businesses and consumers—continued access to and innovation of vapor products.

Once the rules are set and the legislation unlikely to be changed, I often wonder if any of the people giving fuel to the vapor fire will regret that they didn’t spend more time on the real issues.

We have a very limited window, but we have it so let’s make the most of it:

Support every positive effort you can, at the federal, state and local levels.

Join as many groups as you can. Ask for a recap of the work they have done.

Make sure the cost to join is justified by that work. Don’t give the troublemakers an audience and watch them go away.

Determine where you want your business to be in the next three to five years and align yourself only with the people and groups that support your goals.

Educate yourself by doing your own research. Do not trust that everything you hear is true.

Learn the issues. It’s not just a taxation, Pharma or Big Tobacco issue.

Keep your eye on the prize. We don’t have long before it can be taken away.

Cynthia Cabrera is executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association. Visit www.sfata.org or email info@sfata.org with questions.

VAPE-April20153

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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By: Alyssa Stahr

Something special has happened to me as an editor with every maga­zine I’ve worked for, something I like to call “the engagement shift.” I’ve been privileged to be a part of several start-up ventures in the publishing world, and while creat­ing something from nothing is a challenging endeavor, it’s times like these that proves that risk defi­nitely equals the reward.

In the beginning, editors claw and scrape for content. Where is the news and items that everyone is talking about? Who are the mov­ers and shakers in the industry? Where can I go to find investigative pieces—for lack of a better word—the scoop? Then, as it has with VAPE in the past several weeks, the engagement shift happens. News starts to filter to me and engagement takes on a life of its own, both on social media and in my inbox. Readers become a part of the editorial, rather than passive perusers.

While I still research our industry on a daily basis and try to find the most intriguing stories that I think will pique my readers’ interests, it’s amaz­ing how many “pitches” I now get on a daily basis. Having the “problem” of filtering through what will make the magazine and what won’t is a wonderful, welcome aspect of being an editor.

For example, we have some exciting, engaging stories in April’s issue that came from all of you. I had the pleasure of visiting USA Liquid Nicotine in Albany, Ga. after an email was sent to me, inviting me to tour the facil­ity. We featured a video game that is premiering the first-ever vape shop in its background elements, something I would’ve never known without that initial email. I also had the pleasure of visiting a local vape shop in my own backyard here in Chicago, which ended up being a lengthy chat during a snowstorm about the industry and Midwest vapers vs. the rest of the United States. That awesome and informative night at VAPE312 never would have happened without the pitch I received from their marketing manager.

It’s such a benefit when our readers engage. It means people are reading, they’re talking, they’re pitching, they’re involved. After all, it’s your industry and we’re your magazine. It’s the best “problem” an editor can ask for.

Happy reading.

Alyssa Stahr

VAPE-April201515

 

Letter From the Editor

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Letter From the Editor

Even though vaping is a somewhat young concept, the industry is rapidly forging an international history. We are so excited to bring to you our first-ever VAPE Europe issue, chock full of exciting coverage highlighting some our friends from around the world.

2015 promises to be the year of events, and this issue brings you coverage of return powerhouse expos, in addition to three inaugural fests that are hoping to make their mark in the vaping events world.

For those who love learning about innovation, we bring you some unique companies that aim to break free of copycat stereotypes. This issue also includes coverage of what’s happening with legislation and regulation worldwide, with interviews and messages from FIVAPE, the E-Cigarette Forum and ECig Intelligence.

Finally, a VAPE issue without house favorites such as Let’s Ask GrimmGreen, Juice Judge, a shop feature and a gift guide U.K. style just wouldn’t be the same.

We hope you enjoy VAPE Europe. Cheers.

Happy reading.

Alyssa Stahr

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Mastering the Vape Space

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Dirty Little Vape Shop Secrets

By Norm BourSome Vape Shops Won’t Survive. Here’s Why.

Batman fans may recall the moment in “Batman Begins” when Bruce Wayne’s father teaches him about failure.
“Why do we fall?” he asks Bruce. “So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”  A lifelong entrepreneur, I now coach and mentor vape space entrepreneurs. One of my mantras is “Fail early and fail often,” since our failures help us grow.  Across the country, there are several thousand vape shops participating in this $3.5 billion industry. Some are doing extremely well, many are getting along OK and some, unfortunately, are failing. Most failures are caused by a common human weakness, whether it’s lack of follow through, lack of planning or lack of funding.

N.H. Vape Shop: Lack of Follow Through

Last fall, VapeMentors offered a free review, diagnosis and weekly consulting worth around $1,000 to one vape space business. Regardless of where they were at in their stage of development—just getting started or if they had been open for business for a while—we knew we could offer valuable insights gleaned from working with many other vape shop owners. Our winning pro bono client was a vape shop owner in Hooksett, N.H. who had opened his doors two months ago. He told us that in his second week in business, another vape shop opened up less than two miles away. He wanted to know how to set his shop apart from his competitor. We were excited and ready to help him develop his competitive positioning and further develop a unique brand and create an in-shop experience that would set him apart from his competitor—for free. But, he never returned our calls or the forms we sent to further assess his situation. What happened? Presumably this business owner is too busy working in his business rather than on his business. He will likely face the same challenges and will continue to run on the same treadmill until he’s ready to work smarter and not harder.

Costa Mesa Vape Shop: Lack of Planning

Costa Mesa, Calif. is one of the densest areas in the country for vape shops. In the summer of 2013, a young man opened a 3,000 square foot store with high hopes of creating a vapor lounge and a huge magnet store, one of the biggest shops around and a great place to “hang.” However, when he tried to get his permit from the city, he was shut down by city council members who didn’t like the word “lounge” associated with vape shops. If he had planned better, he would have received his permits before signing the lease on a behemoth space. Over half of his retail space sat unused for a year and a half. Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to this story. He ended up forming a partnership with Vapor Solutions, which repurposed the space into a combined coffee shop/vape shop. Store number four in the Vapor Solutions’ growing chain, they’ve been hugely successful with their unique combined coffee/vape shop concept. The irony is that while it still looks like a vapor lounge, the city approved it because it’s designated as primarily a coffee shop that sells vape products. Despite the lack of planning at the outset, this lucky owner was ultimately able to realize his vision: a comfortable lounge environment that’s a great place to hang out and try different vapor products and e-liquids.

Lack of Funding

Of course, lack of funding is what stops a lot of budding vapreneurs from ultimately achieving their goal of opening a vape shop. That’s a topic for a whole other article. But, it’s important to note that lack of funding 1) can be overcome and 2) is not always the reason why people fail in the vape space. Staying focused on your goal, working smarter, not harder, and planning out your business strategy are just as important as securing the funding for your business. John Dumas, host of “Entrepreneur on Fire,” friend and fellow podcaster, developed an acronym for the word FOCUS: “Follow one course until success.” It works. In business, it’s easy to be reactive, rather than proactive. But that’s a sure-fire recipe for failure, especially if things aren’t cranking along smoothly. You have to step back, focus on what’s important and proactively make changes. If you want to create a vape space business, you need an even higher degree of focus since there are so many things to do. Your passion for vaping will only carry you so far. You must focus on developing a business plan or at least a business model for your budding business and then put the systems in place to implement your plan. Eliminate any excuses and give yourself permission to fall, pick yourself up and try again. Take heed. Take chances. Embrace opportunity. You only fail if you quit.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors, the first and largest business consultancy focused on the vape space, now running VAPE U: Six Pillars to Vape Space Success. Norm also hosts Vape Radio and authored “Vapreneur: Your Guide to Mastering the Vape Space.” Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.

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The Year in Review: Trends for the Year and for 2015

Starting a company is fairly easy, and if you want to know how much you should budget it will be covered in my new book, “Masters of Vape,” which will be out by year end.


Everyone WANTS a good supply house, but they are few and far between. Many have personally let me down (along with my shops) by their lack of customer service or communication. You guys who ignore your customers know who you are. I suspect you are experiencing the same thing with your suppliers. Are there good wholesalers out there that supply the hardware (or juice) that you need at competitive prices and with timely service? If you have them, please let me know so I can spread that good news. My 2015 prediction: Less wholesalers doing more. This is not a cheap buy-in business and it takes a lot of revenue to stay operational and profitable.



The Vape Space is a gold mine of opportunities in many areas. Some of the “others” have been profiled in my book “Vapreneur” and include ZazzleBox, Vape Finds, VapeSox and others. These entrepreneurs found unique niches and grew them to success and hopefully profitability. There are still many, many opportunities that can be explored and mined
for riches.


The deeming regulations are in place, and the likelihood of the FDA coming up with a final set of laws in 2015 is less than 50/50. Based on feedback and interviews with many friends in the tobacco space, they shared that the regs for their industry took incredibly long times to execute, so I suspect more of the same. The unfortunate byproduct is that the states and cities will continue to point to the lack of FDA direction as an excuse to cover their asses and ban vaping in many places. Outdoor vaping? Almost a criminal offense. Oh wait: It IS a criminal offense in many areas. Can you sample e-liquids in your or your favorite store? For now yes, in most cases, but some cities are even banning sampling. Can you vape in your car, office, home? Depends, but it’s insane how Big (and Little) Brother want to impede our rights.

On behalf of myself I wish you all the very best in 2015. If you are IN the Vape Space and have stories to share, please do so. I am always looking for “movers and shakers” to profile in my blog posts or on www.VapeNewsRadio. If you have questions, send an e-mail to: Norm@Vapementors.com.

Norm Bour is VAPE’s National Event Coordinator, along with being a contributing columnist and host of VAPE News Radio. As a business consultant specializing in the vaping industry, he founded www.VapeMentors.com and works with brick and mortar stores, e-liquid manufacturers and distributors. He also recently authored his book called “Vapreneur: YOUR guide to Mastering the Vape Space.”

 

 





By the time you read this the New Year will be right around the corner. Regardless of how long you’ve been involved in the Vape Space, it is different than it was the beginning of 2014, certainly different than the start of 2013, and you can be damn sure that 12 months from now we’ll be sharing this same observation.

Since 2014 was the first full year that I have been involved with the World of Vaping I share my thoughts, which may be the same as yours or not. One of the things that skews my view is that I have a national pipeline and glean information from one coast to the next. As the author of “Vapreneur: Your Guide to Mastering the Vape Space” and host of Vape News Radio I have interviewed brick and mortar store owners (both the ones I have helped develop as well as others) along with many e-liquid companies and their CEOs and everything on the periphery. Hardware wholesalers? Yeah, I speak to them, as well as those that are importing or anyone who is creating an online store or affiliate program. With that as a backdrop, here’s where we’ve been. Where we’re going is a bit more uncertain but some things I can assure you will come to be.



They have been on the increase pretty much nonstop since 2008-2009. There are some that are still in business six, seven years later, but many have closed. Why? Usually they over expanded, got too aggressive, and as the market tightened they could not survive and may have folded entirely or retracted some of their stores. I know several chains that fit that model. The ratio I see of openings vs. closing is about 20 percent fail rate, which means for every five shops opening, one is closing its doors. I know of many stores that were generating six figure monthly revenue, but that is very uncommon today. Stores will open, some initiated by novices and amateurs, but more by professionals with experience.
My prediction: More of the same in 2015.

Most of you reading this, those in the B2C world, are probably vape shop owners or employees. Most likely you have been in business for three years or fewer, and even in that short time you’ve seen the volatility of this industry. People are fickle; tastes change. Loyalties that you thought you could count on are no longer as the “next best thing” sometimes takes away your customers. Your marketing must NEVER stop and the best tools and resources are Facebook pages and Instagram, the No. 1 social media channel of choice. Twitter, not so much, and everything else is an also-ran.



I attend a lot of conventions and conferences, and the number of new e-liquid companies that are exhibiting is mind blowing. Every single event validates that of all the vendor types this space is the most prolific and expanding. Why? Because everyone thinks (rightfully so) that this is where the money is. Some are operating their own labs, but most are contracting out to labs of every size. This segment is profitable but very risky with controversy and the FDA keeping a watchful eye. What will 2015 hold? I see a continuation of e-liquid companies proliferating, and many will close as well.

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