Joe Hughes, store manager at Dew Vapor, stands behind the counter of the recently opened e-cigarette store on Perry Street in downtown Wapakoneta. (Staff photo/John Bush)
A new business in downtown Wapakoneta is offering residents an alternative to cigarettes.
Dew Vapor, located on 3 Perry St., opened its doors Monday. The business, owned by Celina resident Donald Warden, specializes in selling electronic cigarettes, e-liquids and accessories. Warden also owns Grand Lake Vapor in Celina, which opened in November 2012.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, use battery power to vaporize a liquid solution, usually flavored, which simulates tobacco smoking. Those who use the product refer to the process as “vaping,” as opposed to smoking.
“It’s a healthier alternative to smoking,” Dew Vapor Store Manager Joe Hughes said. “You don’t have all the carcinogens and toxins a cigarette contains. It’s all food-grade materials plus nicotine.”
Hughes is referring to the common ingredients found in electronic cigarettes. According to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, the five main ingredients in an e-cigarettes include propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine, water and flavoring.
Propylene glycol and glycerol are both food additives, and the flavoring comes from a liquid inserted in the e-cigarette know as an e-liquid. These liquids come in many flavors including traditional cigarette flavors such as menthol, all the way to flavors such as cherry and root beer, among others.
Both Hughes and Warden said that, in their opinion, e-cigarettes are the best way to quit smoking tobacco products.
“It’s an alternative route,” Hughes said. “When I tried to quit I used patches and gum. I used to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day at a certain point. After I walked into his (Warden’s) shop in Celina, I haven’t smoked since. I can’t even be around cigarettes anymore.”
Since opening his first shop in Celina, Warden claims he has helped thousands of people quit smoking by introducing them to e-cigarettes.
“This is vapor — it has nothing to do with smoke,” Warden said. “If you go outside in the wintertime and exhale, you’re exhaling water vapor, which is exactly what you’re exhaling with these (e-cigarettes). The only difference is the nicotine and the flavoring, and nicotine is about as dangerous as caffeine so it’s not really a health hazard.”
The Food and Drug Administration is still inconclusive on the health effects of e-cigarettes, however, studies have shown liquid nicotine could pose a potential risk to children if ingested.
Warden said he “has heard too much evidence” to deny that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes. He said he has spoken to doctors who recommend the products he sells over regular cigarettes.
As for the harmful effects it can have on children, Warden said it is up to the parents to keep the nicotine liquid out of their hands.
“Your kids shouldn’t drive cars either but it’s not my responsibility to take the keys away from them, it’s yours,” he said. “It says on the bottle to keep our of reach of children. You know there’s nicotine in it — you have control of your own kids.”
Warden said he also does not sell to minors, and has “must be 18 to purchase” signs at both his stores.
As an alternative route to quitting tobacco products, Warden said he knows from personal experience how effective turning to e-cigarettes can be.
“I smoked for 38 years and after I picked this up on June 3, 2012, I haven’t touched a cigarette since,” he said.
Hughes said one of the benefits of using e-cigarettes to quit smoking is people can control the amount of nicotine they want to use.
Dew Vapor offers nicotine levels ranging from 24 milliliters to zero milliliters of nicotine. He said he has seen some people work their way down from higher nicotine levels all the way down to zero.
Hughes said another benefit is, since what you’re exhaling is water vapor, you can smoke e-cigarettes virtually anywhere. Many businesses allow e-cigarette smoking in their buildings, although it varies from store to store and person to person, Hughes said.
“My father is on oxygen so I can’t smoke cigarettes near my house, but I can do this (smoke e-cigarettes) throughout the house and it doesn’t bother him one bit,” he said. “He’s got COPD, emphysema, you name name. It doesn’t bother him one bit.”
For those trying to quit smoking in favor of vaping, Hughes recommends starting with an 18 milliliter bottle of e-liquid.
“That will put out enough vapor so that it gets in your lungs and absorbs in your body to actually help people quit smoking,” he said. Hughes said starting off at a higher nicotine level and working your way down is the most effective way to quit.
Dew Vapor offers a variety of e-cigarette “kits,” from cheaper starter kits that cost around $45 to more advanced kits costing in the hundreds of dollars. The advanced kits are for more experienced vapors, and include equipment pieces such as a tank, battery, atomizer, coil and charger. He said the only thing you’ll need to replace regularly is the coil and the liquid.
Hughes said that, although it may cost you more at the beginning, you will save money over time by switching to e-cigarettes.
“You can buy a coil for $4.95 and that’ll last three weeks to a month,” he said. “So you spend $5 a month on that plus maybe another $30 on liquid. That’s $35 a month when a carton of cigarettes would cost you $50.”
Since Dew Vapor offers so many different flavors of liquid, including many sweet flavors, Hughes said some people buy the product simply as a weight loss tool.
“Instead of eating a piece of cake when you’re craving something sweet, you can take a hit of an e-cigarette and get that same, sweet flavor,” he said.
For now, e-cigarettes remain largely unregulated by the federal government. Rules on where people can vape, how old they have to be and how effective they are in helping people quit tobacco is still to be determined.
In the meantime, Hughes and Warden will continue to offer this product as an option for smokers.
“We’re not trying to force anybody into doing this,” Hughes said. “If somebody doesn’t like the idea, they don’t have to do it. We’re just giving people a healthier alternative.”
Dew Vapor is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
For more information about Dew Vapor, visit facebook.com/dewvapor.