VaporWize offers electronic smoking option

Bacon, banana, bourbon, brownie, bubble gum and blueberry are just six e-liquid flavors that line the walls of VaporWize, Memphis’s only store devoted solely to battery-powered smoking.

VaporWize sells all the items needed to smoke electronically, including e-cigs, e-liquids and e-accessories.

Since November 2013, fruity aromas and minty scents have filled the air of 569 S. Highland St., the VaporWize store located three blocks from the University of Memphis.

Osman Udtill, owner of the Highland store and two other VaporWize stores in Memphis, said he wanted to build a store as close to the U of M as possible to help encourage students to make the transition from regular cigarettes to e-cigs.

He expected the majority of his business to come from college students, but Udtill said most of the patrons at the Highland store are age 30 and above.

Recently Udtill expanded his flavor list from 90 flavors to 150 flavors. He added flavors such as cake batter, cotton candy and Cinnamon Crunch Toast in an attempt to appeal to a younger crowd.

Also to attract more college students, he started offering a discount to students. Since the flavor expansion and student discount, VaporWize has seen a steady influx of younger customers.

“One day I smoked cookie dough liquid from my friend’s e-cig and it was the best thing I ever tasted,” U of M graduate student, Charlie Smith said. “After that I threw my box of menthols out and bought a vaporizer.”

Udtill hopes that more people will jump on the bandwagon and make the switch to electronic smoking.

“I want to be a part of changing the human smoking experience,” Udtill said. “We (VaporWize) are helping to transform the smoking scene into something that is generally better, safer and less expensive.”

Udtill said that in two years, a pack-a-day smoker will save $5,000 after switching to e-cigs.

Based on the VaporWize website, the other key difference between e-cigs and traditional cigarettes is the ingredient list. Regular cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing chemicals. E-cigs do contain nicotine, but they lack the other additives present in cigarettes resulting in less than .05 percent of the chemicals in a regular cigarette.

Research suggests that switching to e-cigs significantly reduces the chance of damaged lungs, heart attack, and cancer.

U of M sophomore Justine Whitney said that she is aware of the dangers of smoking, but is not ready to trade in her lighter for a battery.

“I’ve tried the whole electronic cig thing,” Whitney said. “It just doesn’t feel the same to me. I know real cigarettes aren’t the healthiest thing, but I’m going to stick to them for now.”

Before starting VaporWize, Udtill owned service stations, in which the majority of the revenue came from tobacco sales. He said when the e-cig trend came along, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sell a healthier way to smoke.

“All I know is since I put down the regular cigarettes and started smoking e-cigs, I don’t cough like I used to,” Udtill said. “I want people to realize you can be smoker and still be healthy.

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