Call it a trend. Or a fad. It’s found its way to metro Savannah.
Almost three weeks ago, Vapor Trails opened its doors at 1105 E. Hwy. 80 in Pooler, selling vaporizers and what are called e-liquids, customized to meet individual tastes.
“Vaping” replaces the cigarette with a battery-run vaporizer, which contains nicotine-laced liquid that is heated and inhaled. The cloud produced by the mechanism is not smoke but water vapor.
“We’re really aimed at people who already smoke,” said Drew Kraft, co-owner of Vapor Trails. “It’s more appealing to them.”
Flavors, too, are added to fit each consumer’s taste.
“If someone comes in wanting butterscotch, we can make them butterscotch,” said co-owner Gayle Kraft. “We currently have 88 flavors that we can mix and match for each customer.”
Customization has become a trademark of the vaping trend, with not only varieties in flavor but also in hardware.
Vaporizers are built in many different shapes and sizes, but most hardware starts around $29.99, Gayle Kraft said, while Vapor Trails’ 10-milliliter bottles of e-liquid, which is comparable to two to three packs of cigarettes, sell for $5.99.
“With packs of cigarettes going for $5 these days and cartons going for $50-$60, we think we offer an alternative that is sure to be cheaper in the long run,” she said.
As businesses become smoke-free, vaping offers an alternative, according to Drew Kraft.
“Some customers say their workplace allows them to vape, and this really helps them,” he said.
The effects of e-cigarettes or vaping have not been studied, but the products do contain the addictive stimulant nicotine.
Vapor Trails makes their liquids with four ingredients, said Gayle Kraft — nicotine, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and the flavor. The vaporizer does not produce the byproduct of carbon monoxide found in cigarettes.
The store does not carry conventional e-cigarettes such as those found in convenience stores but offers personal service in creating customizable liquids known as e-juices.
“We try to figure out how much a person smokes and then fix them with a certain formula,” said Gayle Kraft.
For Gayle, who previously smoked cigarettes, this meant reducing her nicotine intake from 18 milligrams, the amount found in a standard cigarette, to six milligrams in her customized e-juice.
“With cigarettes you get only one flavor, one nicotine level,” said Drew. “With these we can make them tailored to customers’ needs … it’s very versatile compared to cigarettes.”
The vaping and e-cigarette industry is unregulated by federal and state governments except for prohibited sales to minors under 18.
Christopher Daye, who owns Vapors Smoke Shop with locations in Savannah Mall and at 7303 Abercorn St., said the market will level off with regulations.
“I would expect the fad to die down because prices will go up,” said Daye. “Harmful effects of the products haven’t really been studied, so I think it’s a monetary thing more than anything.”
He said he has almost quadrupled the amount of vaping products he carries in his stores.
Sales of e-cigarettes and vapor products are expected to top $2 billion in the next year, most of which are from the sale of conventional e-cigarettes, according to the Wall Street Journal, and the vaping trend is on the rise.
“Really, it’s like a hobby,” said Drew Kraft. “People will find that here, and it’s something you can’t get anywhere else.”
Eventually, Vapor Trails plans to expand and create a vapor bar where people can vape and socialize.
“I know it’s going to take off,” said Gayle Kraft. “It’s kind of a big thing right now.”