By Kristi Reed
Buford resident Michael Andrea first started using electronic cigarettes when he decided to give up chewing tobacco. As soon as he began “vaping,” he was able to quit immediately.
“I no longer had the need or urge,” he said.
At the time, the nearest e-cigarette retailer was located on the far side of Cumming. After growing tired of the long drive to purchase supplies, Andrea found online e-cigarette retailer Madvapes. After months of ordering online, he decided to explore the possibility of becoming a seller.
“I looked into it a little over a year ago,” Andrea said.
At the time, Madvapes was not offering franchises, but that changed in late 2013 and Andrea seized the opportunity to open his own store.
Madvapes opened at 3265 Sardis Church Road on March 17. Business so far, Andrea said, has been good.
“Before I even opened -- when I was stocking this store -- people were coming in,” he recalled.
Though many of his customers are already familiar with the products, some know nothing about e-cigarettes. Those customers, Andrea said, are eager to learn for health reasons.
“Most people who are coming in to buy for the first time are trying to quit smoking,” he said.
E-cigarettes use a liquid that contains custom amounts of nicotine. Andrea and his staff ask questions about the customer’s tobacco habits to determine what level of nicotine the customer is currently getting and try to match that level in the vaping liquid. Over time, the amount of nicotine can be adjusted downward to gradually wean the individual off cigarettes or other tobacco products.
The experience of using an e-cigarette, Andrea said, is very close to smoking.
“It feels like a cigarette and it’s like a cigarette in your hand and you’re getting ‘smoke’ but the ‘smoke’ is really just water vapor,” he explained.
Unlike cigarettes, however, the “smoke” produced by e-cigarettes is odorless. It can have a distinct taste though.
Madvapes offers more than 200 flavors of e-liquid including vanilla, caramel cream, amaretto, peach, mango, chocolate, pineapple upside down cake, hazelnut, butter rum, bubble gum and many more. Traditional cigarette flavorings and custom combinations are also available.
“It’s unlimited what we can mix,” Andrea said.
As for how the cost compares to that of smoking, e-cigarettes can provide substantial financial savings over time. Rechargeable starter kits, which include a bottle of e-liquid, range from $20-$65. A week's supply of liquid refills can be purchased for as little as $5. Premium cigarettes cost $5 a pack or more.
While the cost advantages may be clear cut, the health benefits remain a subject of controversy. Opponents question the lack of regulation and the addictive nicotine content in the vaping liquid. Advocates claim the use of e-cigarettes is a safe alternative to smoking and an effective smoking cessation aid. Andrea said his own success story with giving up tobacco products has been mirrored by many others including a pregnant customer and a customer with multiple sclerosis -- both of whom he said had been advised by their doctors to try “vaping” as a means to quit smoking.
For more information about Madvapes, including store hours, visit the Madvapes Atlanta website.
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