I’ve been living in this area (PSL FL) for two and a half years and I have never taken the time out to visit our local mall for the express purpose of seeking out the only store within 20 miles that sell e-Cigarette Starter Kits as their primary source of revenue. Sure, our Walgreens drug stores, all 20 of them, and several gas stations and convenience stores in the area sell electronic cigarettes, but only as ‘point-of-purchase’items. In our mall there is an actual eCigarette Kiosk where passersby can stop, look, and maybe walk away with an overpriced piece-of-crap eCig starter kit by Smoke Free. (Not to be confused with Smoke Frii, although…)
A couple of weeks ago I took some the time out of my busy schedule to drive down and see the kiosk in action. I arrived about 15 minutes before the official opening of the mall. The booth was absent of people; even the owner had not shown up for work yet. It was a perfect time to carefully examine the kiosk and snap a few photos.
Kiosks that sell eCigarette Starter Kits are spouting up all over the country; this particular one was a franchise of Smoke Free. You can visit the Smoke Free website at www.smokefreeonline.com but I warn you not to visit with a full stomach, you may lose you lunch when you get a look at the prices this company dares to charge. If you’re feeling froggy try ordering (as a guest shopper) a single pack of cartomizer refills. You’ll see a shipping charge of $29.98. But I digress.
An Uphill Battle
There are plenty of good reasons to stop smoking cigarettes and I don’t need to go over them here. But after learning so much about the vast differences in eCigarette products over these many months I’m not so sure anymore that its any safer to vape much of the ‘Bull-Trash’ on the market than it is to continue smoking tobacco. I’m serious.
There is a ‘subset’ of this industry that truly lacks any socially redeeming value. They are made up of various manufacturers, wholesales, and retailers that care so little about quality or safety of eCigarettes and they’ve discovered ways to produce a product at the lowest possible cost and sell it at the highest possible price. Because of this, buying eCigarettes are akin to buying produce; the best quality melons, tomatoes, peaches, apples, and so on are sold at their cheapest prices while the worst quality is sold at the highest prices. It seems the more you spend on a starter kit the worse the starter kit is.
The Rabbit Hole We Go
The eCigarette industry continues to accelerate its tumble down the rabbit hole and it’s becoming damn near impossible to separate the good guys from bad guys. Sometimes I get this ‘feeling’ that the bad guys are going to win.
Kiosks like the one in our town are popping up in every mall in the country and seem to gain traction every time there is a story in a newspaper, magazine, television or the internet on how much safer and cheaper eCigarettes are over traditional tobacco cigarettes.
(Have you noticed all the ‘editorial advertising’ appearing in Google searches and whatnot with such scary titles as “BEFORE YOU BUY AN ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE READ THIS VITAL REPORT” which turns out to be an advertisement for a sleaze ball operation like Regal Cigs?)
Kiosks sell their wares at extraordinarily high prices to people who are finally beginning to realize that tobacco will actually kill them. Their sales pitches are particularly effective to those that already know they have to stop smoking tobacco at some point, and so they often walk away a couple of hundred bucks lighter in the wallet carrying a bag stuffed with cheap, bad tasting, poor quality eCigarettes made in poorly regulated Chinese factories.
On Knowing The Ugly Up Close
Some of us get to a point in our knowledge about eCigarettes that when you see people vaping a cheap, Chinese eLiquid filled eCigarette you’re tempted to tell them to toss the eCig and go back to taking their chances with Marlboro or Winston. Although tobacco cigarettes contain poisonous chemicals that will kill you over time, who knows what’s in the Chinese eLiquid they are inhaling into their lungs?
(*Note: I’m not talking about companies like DeKang or other sophisticated companies producing eLiquid under some regulation, I’m talking about the hundreds of smaller eLiquid shops all over China selling God Knows What to smaller, cheaper-still, eCigarette manufactures that form the backbone to the offbeat brands you see offering free trial kits or that fill the shelves in some kiosks).
I mean, come on, when the owner of a Chinese pet food plant makes a conscious decision to use a ‘filler’ material in the pet food that will wind up on the shelves of American Supermarkets (so that the ‘safe’ ingredients could be stretched further) turns out to kill tens of thousands of our pets, all in the name of ‘communist profit’ (Where the word ChiComs comes from), who’s to say that it isn’t going to happen with eLiquid? Especially from one of smaller Chinese eLiquid makers when it makes its way into the offbeat brands that are sold the world over?