Cousins Melissa Bennett and Christie Watson were both smokers before trying e-cigarettes, or “vaping” to curb their nicotine cravings.
Bennett and Watson both say that vaping has helped them quit smoking cigarettes. They've also turned the hobby into a full-time business.
Along with Debbie Patton, Bennett and Watson co-own The Vapor Hut, a e-cigarette supply business that has grown to five stores in two states and 35 employees in less than two years.
Watson, who also struggled with asthma, was tired of smoking, but had trouble quitting until she discovered she could get the same nicotine fix she got from a cigarette from inhaling flavored vegetable glycerin from battery-powered cigarettes.
“I was using my inhaler just so I could smoke another cigarette — I know that it's bad,” she said.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that most of the chemical compounds used in e-cigarettes are generally safe, little long-term data on the health effects of e-cigarettes has been collected.
Still, Bennett said she and Watson believe that vaping is better for them than smoking cigarettes, and they want The Vapor Hut to help introduce vaping to other smokers as well.
“Our hair and clothes smell better; our skin looks better,” Bennett said. “I started to realize that I didn't miss smoking.”
Making the juice
Bennett was soon experimenting with mixing different liquid flavorings for e-cigarettes — called e-juice or simply juice by those who vape.
The juices are made from a mixture of nicotine, vegetable glycerin, flavoring and propylene glycol, which is a compound commonly used as a preservative in many processed foods.