By Susan Ho
Sitting at a Mamak stall one day with my friend Kurtis from Ipoh, I was fascinated to see him puffing away on what appears to be a box with a tube attached to it. The big cloud of smoke that he blew out evaporated almost instantly and what was interesting was my lack of aversion to the smoke as being a non-smoker, I dislike second-hand cigarette smoke intensely. It actually smelled like cotton candy. That was my introduction to Vape, the new craze for cigarette addicts that has them going ape.
A Possible Solution for Smoking Addiction?
Kurtis has been a vaper for a year now and is very knowledgeable about the whole phenomenon. Thinking it was just like a portable Shisha, which was another way of smoking tobacco mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube with the use of charcoal, I soon discovered I was mistaken.
The first time I heard about Vape, I couldn’t help but think about the things that I learnt in Science textbooks at school. Water vapour was the only thing that came across my mind. Little did I know that there was more to it.
Battery Powered Vaporizer
So what is this new hype called Vape you may ask?
Vape is a vaporizer, which is a battery-powered device that simulates the feeling of smoking without the tobacco combustion. Instead of cigarette smoke, the user inhales an aerosol, commonly called vapour. These vaporizers have a heating element that atomizes a liquid solution known as e-liquid, e-juice, or what the vapers just call “juice”.
How Does this Vaporizer Work?
Vaporizers work by heating juice at a cooler temperature than that required for burning, which is called combustion.
A rechargeable battery of different sizes and power voltage is used to run the vaporizer. These batteries are not the same as those you find at a store. This battery is placed into the tube of the vaporizer which then generates heat and burns the cotton which is soaked with juice, to convert into gas or vapour.
The box mod vaping kit for beginners range from RM250 and above. There are different mods depending on model and there are also the limited editions. Many of the models are made in China, however they all do the same job and appear to work the same.
Juices and Flavours
There are two kinds of juices. They either contain propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, water, nicotine, and flavourings, or no flavourings at all. These liquids are safe for human consumption.
Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine are used as a base or carrier for the nicotine and flavours. They are usually used in medications and some of the food that we regularly eat. Glycerine is usually made out of coconut or palm oil.
The flavours in the juice are very interesting. Who would have expected to see Sprite, Root Beer and Ice Cream Soda on the list? There’s more! I was surprised to see Teh Tarik, Bandung, Kopi, Milo and Butterscotch too!
There were so many flavours to choose from. There were milky ones, fruity ones, minty ones and local specials. Many superhero names are also found on the list such as Spiderman and Wonderwoman too!
The nicotine used to vape could range at 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 9mg, 12mg, 15mg, 18mg, up to 36mg depending on the vaper’s needs. A regular cigarette is less choking than liquid nicotine.
In order to quit smoking and convert to vaping, vapers will have to get the highest nicotine concentrate to prevent them from inhaling too much vapour in any given day. Being a subjective matter, every individual’s throat hit tolerance differs. It gives a very itching sensation for beginners, which is why most people opt for 6mg, which is the amount similar to a cigarette.
Several countries produce their own brand of e-liquid for the market. However, the price differs with imported juice. Local Malaysian productions are made on their own at home. Local juice such as Bell’s brew, Octobrew and Monkey Vapes are some of the better choices. These juices cost between RM20 to RM50, depending on the brand and grades.
Vaporizers were invented at least 50 years ago by an American but it received very little attention and was weakly commercialized. It began as a very simple invention. It was called a mechanical mod, which consisted of a steel tube with spring buttons at the bottom, coupled with a connector on top. Tanks back then needed extra care and maintenance, which could cost up to RM8 a week.
Vaping was finally widely introduced to the market in 2004. As of 2013, it was sold globally and used by both young and old.
Vape products will never be found in supermarkets or petrol stations. There are specialized vaporizers shops which have a bar where vapers get to test out different juices while hanging out with their friends who vape.
Some vapers have been purchasing vaporizers that produce large amounts of vapour by using low-resistance heating coils. This practice is called “cloud-chasing”. It has become very popular and currently the trend setter amongst youngsters. However, this practice has also raised public concern. Many have complained about the large amount of smoke (vapour) blown in their direction, causing them uneasiness.
This trend setter has currently attracted youths who are still schooling and this has also become a big issue to parents and teachers as non-smokers who use them risk nicotine addiction. They are puffing out the large amount of smoke just to create shapes and figures, just for the sake of recording them on video and publicizing them on social media.
Word has it that children have also been bringing them to school or are puffing away in public. Rules and age limits should be set to protect the children from vaping at a young age, just as how cigarettes are being controlled.
Effectiveness and Side Effects
Vaping has successfully replaced cigarettes for many smokers. Smokers have commented that they have replaced cigarettes by vaping for it is less harmful to users and bystanders as well as to themselves. As of today, no serious side effects have been reported on vaping. British Public Health experts have also been quoted, saying that vaping is very helpful to quit smoking. It is a good way to turn away from tobacco. Smoking has been a leading cause of preventable deaths in England. Vaping was proven to be 95% less dangerous than traditional tobacco smoking.
Besides health concerns, the difference in price is almost 50%. For a smoker who smokes a pack of cigarettes in two days on average, he would use up to RM45 a week. But if he has converted to vaping, he could save up to 50%, as a bottle of juice, which contains 30ml of flavourings can last a minimum of 10 days.
Rumours have been spreading that e-cigarettes and vaporizers are to be banned in Malaysia. It is banned in several countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Brunei as the governments are afraid that vapers would abuse it by using drugs with the device as marijuana flavoured juices have been produced in the market.
Currently the Health Ministry has not regulated vaporizers as research is still in process. It is impossible to avoid and regulate vaporizers as purchases are easily accessible online and regulating this would require two components to be considered, which would be the electronic device and the liquid.
Large gatherings are held often amongst vapers which take place all around the world. Vapefest was started in 2010 and it was hosted in different cities in the USA. The people who attend these gatherings are usually enthusiasts that have experience and who use special or custom-made vaporizers.
Kurtis bought his first set for RM1300 second-hand and his e-liquid collection has totalled up to about RM3200. The costly investment is due to the imported liquids but he also adds that it would cost less than his cigarette intake in the past, which was 1.5 packs a day.
Taking up Vape has not only made him feel healthier, he is also able to taste his food better. He adds that education should be given to those who are new and excited about this new hobby.
I went in search of public opinion on Vaping and here I list some of them. To Ili Aqilah, it triggers her asthma whenever she is around vapers as she is neither a smoker nor vaper and she hopes that they would be more considerate when puffing away in public. Tee sees vaping as a better alternative to smoking cigarettes as he feels the positive difference in him. He also adds that vapers shouldn’t vape in public places or non-smoking areas with people around. Vape should only be used by those above 18 of age and they should know all the safety precautions when using a vape device.
Vape shops have been opening slowly in the Ipoh market. CS, an owner of one of the Vape shops, does not encourage under-age teenagers to take up the habit of vaping. He has a rule in the shop, which is not to sell any product to the underage. He does not wish to see youths taking up the habit of vaping just for the sake of following the trend.Vapempire Majestic Ipoh 1A-1, Jalan Dato Onn Jaafar, 012 527 9511 http://vemipoh.tk/ Yop Vapor 66A, Lengkuk Meru Permai 2, Halaman Meru Permai, 30020 Ipoh. 017 547 1147 http://www.yopvapor.com/ Vapemod Station Ipoh SF Lot27, Kompleks Yik Foong, Jalan Laxamana 014 628 8688 https://www.facebook.com/vmsipoh Vape Houz 41 A Medan Song Choon 1 Medan Song Choon, 31350 Ipoh Perak. 016 764 7080 / 017 477 5493 / 012 545 4811 / 012 558 8271 http://www.pikore.com/vape_houz