Vape store owner hits back

Kevin Carroll wants to set the record straight on the myths in the media around vaping.

A vape store owner in Te Awamutu says he wants to set the record straight following a call by Waipa and Auckland principals to usher in strict regulations on the growing trend of nicotine delivery.

Kevin Carroll, owner of one of five Vice Vape Co stores which opened on Jacobs St last weekend, agrees with much of the proposed regulations on vaping – requiring proof of age for online sales, and limiting the packaging and ‘glamorous’ advertising.

But he said banning the devices, or taking away the non-tobacco flavours, would take away a technology which helps smokers quit, or at least transition to a healthier alternative, and would simply be removing a product which adults should have the right to enjoy.

“Vaping is absolutely revolutionary, and at the end of the day it’s an adult choice,” he said. “It shouldn’t be seen as a means of enticing under 18s into smoking, any more than RTDs would into drinking alcohol, because there are controls are in place if you are a responsible retailer. But there’s always cowboys out there that will spoil it for everyone.”

He said an investigation by the Centre for Disease Control  into 47 vaping-related deaths in the United States found they involved a cheaper, black-market vape liquid with synthetic THC laced with Vitamin E acetate. He said the acetate was used to make cheap liquids look like pharmaceutical grade vaping liquids.

The water-based vape liquids sold by retailers, he said, simply contain vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, nicotine and flavours.

It was these “backyard” vape liquids that caused the serious problems abroad “because vitamin E acetate is an oil which coats your lungs and creates these problems”.

Carroll, a 20-year industry veteran with a masters in tobacco strategy, said rather than a blanket-approach to ban vaping,  people should be given correct information so they could make an informed decision.

Kevin Carroll has opened his fifth Vice Vape Co store in Te Awamutu, pictured with store clerk Sid Cobb.

He said his own sales seemed to disprove the idea that vaping was a gateway into smoking cigarettes, but more often a gateway out of it.

“Our tobacco sales have dropped by 50 percent in the last three years, but that loss in tobacco sales has been gained in vaping, so you can see the transition. We’ve had a lot of success stories.”

He compared the idea to ban the sweet, fruity non-tobacco vape flavours in the same light as telling liquor store owners they could only sell one flavour of alcoholic beverage.

“About 90 percent of our sales are flavoured liquid, vaping flavours are very important in this game. That’s what our customers tell us, if they remove the flavours they’ll just go back to smoking, because it’s a mental reminder of where they’ve come from. People love the flavours.

“Vaping helps them quit because they can reduce the nicotine levels in their vape liquid over time, and unlike patches or gum it still provides them with that hand-to-mouth habit. But at the same time it’s something different, it’s something fruity. If you’re transitioning from a tobacco product, the last thing you want to be reminded of is a tobacco flavoured e-liquid.

“Where does the police state or the nanny state stop? At the end of the day this is an R18 product, if you’re an adult surely you should be given the benefit to make a decision whether you want a peach flavoured liquid or a tobacco flavoured liquid. It’s all about choice.”

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