Business owner expounds on popularity of smoking alternative
Tom Fink Staff Reporter
At the turn of the 19th Century, “having a case of the vapors” was considered a bad thing; but in 2013, the phrase has taken on a different meaning altogether.
Recent years have given rise to appearance and proliferation of electronic cigarettes and the shops that sell them.
Some of these are also lounges, which encourage their customers to enjoy their purchases on the spot. Such is the case of Claremore Route 66 Vapors — one of no less than seven such vapor shops currently found in Claremore.
“What we primarily offer is the liquid used in the electronic cigarettes — the user (of the e-cigarette) gets the vapor instead of smoke which they’d get in a traditional, tobacco-based cigarette,” said Anne Eagleton, building owner of Claremore Route 66 Vapors. “The difference between the two is that the user can still partake in the basic experience of ‘smoking’ only without the tobacco or — if they’re so inclined — with a lower level of nicotine. One big difference between electronic cigarettes and traditional cigarettes is that the user can select their own level of nicotine and if they want to start out high and lower the (nicotine) level as they go. It’s a good way for people to kind of wean themselves off cigarettes.”
For those unfamiliar, “electronic cigarettes,” also known as an “electronic vaping device,” is an electronic inhaler meant to simulate and substitute for tobacco smoking.
The device typically utilizes a battery-powered heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution, some of which release nicotine and others merely releasing a flavored vapor.
These devices are frequently designed to mimic traditional smoking implements, such as cigarettes or cigars, in their use and/or appearance.
Although Eagleton said her store, which she prefers to think of as a “lounge” as there are several areas set up for customers to take their time and enjoy their purchases.
It does offer the electronic cigarette starter kits; the shop’s main focus is on the flavored liquids available and the shop’s atmosphere.
“Like we say in our ad, we’re not an average vapor store. We have three lounge areas, offer popcorn, beverages and coffee daily, and have a large selections of flavors (for electronic cigarettes) which we take time helping our customers select,” she said.
“We have some customers who come in and just enjoy trying out the different flavors — some of them, wanting to find an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes or wanting to quit, others just enjoying the variety of flavors available.”
Although Eagleton said she’s not sure how many different flavors she currently offers, she’s sure that there’s something for all of her customers.
“My son, Alex, works here and he vapes himself. He smoked for 10 years and was able to quit with the help of electronic cigarettes,” she said.
“He knows that some people will want to keep the flavor of tobacco — be it American tobacco, rum tobacco, rose tobacco, or other varieties which we’ve got — or something a little different, like a citrus flavor or even flavors in candy, cola, or something else.
“Lately, eggnog and pumpkin spice flavors have grown in popularity, most likely because of the season,” Eagleton says.
“But we’re always happy to let our customers try out the different kinds of flavors we’ve got until they find what they like.”
Customers like Bradley Colbert, who frequents the vapor lounge, both for him and for others.
“I’m commander of the (Post 141) American Legion in Claremore, and picked up several starter kits here for the veterans after we learned that the (vet) center was doing away with its smoke holes,” Colbert said.
“At first the vets were mad, but once they got their electronic cigarette kits, they really took to them.”
Colbert said electronic cigarettes have helped him to lessen his own intake of nicotine and gotten his mother who had smoked since age 14 to quit smoking entirely.
“A lot of people still don’t know what electronic cigarettes are or what a vapor lounge is,” he said.
“Some of the people I’ve talked to think it’s some kind of underground shop or that there’s something illegal sold here, but that’s not the case at all,” he said.
“It’s just a place which offers smokers — and non-smokers — an alternative to smoking (tobacco) cigarettes, and a laid back atmosphere in which to do it.”