Four years ago, Kim Thompson was spending $10 a day on cigarettes, trying to quit through the use of smoking alternatives like e-cigarettes. With no local e-cigarette stores in town, she was relying on ground mail to order “vaping” equipment she had to figure out how to use on her own. “I realized that I would never quit smoking without a constant supply of product, better support and more education,” Thompson said. Rather than just sitting back, Thompson took action. Using the money she was saving from not smoking, Thompson opened up her own dedicated vape shop, “The Vaporium” in Lakewood, with a second location in Fife being opened just a few months ago.
“I am still waiting on vape mail but not with a ciggie clenched in my teeth,” Thompson said. “Now, I’m waiting on supplies to help support the needs of not just myself, but an ever-growing population of Vapers.” The Vaporium specializes in the selling and education of “PVs,” or Personal Vaporizers, like e-cigarettes.
“These devices use lithium ion batteries to provide users with an alternative to smoking without any sort of fire, tar, ash, carbon monoxide or odor found in traditional tobacco cigarettes,” Thompson said. “The vaper is still able to simulate smoking without any of the 4,065 chemicals present in a normal tobacco cigarette.”
Niccotine strength and e-cigarette flavorings are both optional for PV use. E-cigarette kits can range anywhere between $30-$300, though a more expensive kit is not required to try and transition to vaping. PVs normally consist of a battery and some kind of cartridge containing an internal heating coil. When the cartridge is filled with e-juice, the coil heats it and it becomes a vapor, which the user inhales and exhales.
The main component in PVs is propylene glycol, a chemical also used in fog machines, asthma inhalers and air disinfectants. Propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA. The Vaporium itself offers more than 150 e-juice flavors that can be sampled, different batteries to experiment with and a group of self-proclaimed “Vape Geeks” who have all been down the road of a smoking addiction. The Vaporium is a place dedicated to helping its customers kick their tobacco addictions. “Our joke is that our best customers quit us altogether,” Thompson said. Vaping has come a long way since Thompson was relying on mail orders.
With Vaping stores opening up all around the country, the product has exploded in recent years, becoming both an alternative to cigarette smoking and the focus of a tight knit community. “Vaping has really become a community of people supporting one another and the cause,” Thompson said. “Cigarettes never brought people together except in the smoking section.