Vaping in July!
When I left the home office of Spinfuel eMagazine to go back home and ramp up my stock photography business, which I had neglected terribly for more than a year, I thought my day-to-day “e-cigarette industry” exposure would die down drastically. In some ways I suppose that’s true, but in other, unexpected ways, it’s been anything but.
When I left the Boston area 18 months ago to come down and work at Spinfuel’s “e-cigarette project” I had never even seen anyone with an electronic cigarette up here. I only knew what they were and what they tasted like because John had flown up to the design studio to show everyone what the project was going to be about. I’m not going say I “got it” instantly because I didn’t, but I thought it might be fun to help spearhead a project like this.
Upon my return not only are there vape shops opening up everywhere you can actually spot Vapers on the busy streets of Boston at least twice a day. And, while strolling through small galleries that spot the city no one tries to stop Keira or I from vaping and they don’t look at us like we’re smoking something strange. For whatever reason they seem to recognize e-cigarettes in both the cig-a-like sticks and the larger, ego-style (Halo Tritons).
Keira and I visited a few vape shops in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and a couple of them are nicely stocked stores with a friendly staff. I’m not going to mention any shops in particular, but there was one where the people behind the counter had to be the owners and the way they treated people who came in knowing nothing about e-cigarettes and asked newbie-type questions were met with sarcastic, even snide remarks. How anyone can cop and attitude about something so simple as an e-cigarette is something I’ll never understand. By the way this one guy strutted around the shop like he was the cock of the walk and he was such a weird site to see. Keira proceeded to approach the two young men who were interested in finding out more about vaping and she, how can I say this, acted as though they were the most important people she had seen that day. The young guys were falling all over themselves and the older guys, the presumed owners, were speechless. Keira gave them some information, made some recommendations, and pointed them to MyVaporStore online.
Blu Cigs NEW Starter Kit
I was in the Walgreens drug store in Nashua last week and I thought I noticed a brand new Blu Cigs starter kit. I almost bought one to review, thinking that it had been about 14 or 15 months since the last time we did (other than John’s commentary piece a couple weeks ago) and I was interested to see what Blu Cigs had been able to do with a huge influx of cash and some smart engineers. So, instead of spending $70 for a kit that I probably wouldn’t use much (though I could’ve sent to John and he would use it if the battery was better than last years), we went home and I later went to the Blu Cigs website to see what I could learn.
Turns out there is a modified design of the PCC, which is a nice improvement, and some very “Apple in the 90’s iBook” looking USB cable and car charger. Very slick, very commercial, very mainstream. I think Blu will sell a lot of these new kits, to new and old users.
The Cheating Photographer
Earlier this week I get a call from a friend, a fellow photography that shoots in the Green and White mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. He does magnificent work with nudes on rocks, under waterfalls, things like that. Keira and I did a shoot like that recently but my friend does it for a living.
My friend stopped smoking about 5 years ago with a minimal amount of cheating. He had told me the main reason for quitting was that more and more young models would show up at the studio in order to ride up into the mountains with him and his (female) assistant. Models just don’t smoke like they once did, so they complained all the time. He gave it up because it was too difficult to not smoke on the drive up and the drive back down, and especially when he worked close up with the model. (Sometimes you have to get in so close that the only other person that has been that close to the model was the model ‘significant other’.) They just couldn’t stand the smell of stale cigarette smoke. By quitting altogether he didn’t have to suffer from nicotine withdrawal during the ‘off limits’ times.
He would cheat at times, mostly at home, where he kept his office. After a difficult shoot, or while in front of his computer working with Adobe Lightroom, he would attempt to relax with a cigarette. Trying to balance the color of light, or adjust the noise from low-light shots can be trying and there is nothing worse for a photographer than to have the model strike a perfect look, or pose, and the problem with the shoot was in-camera. Trying to fix problems like this on the computer can be a stressful situation, so maybe a couple of times a month he would pull away from the his desk, go out to his balcony and light up. I suppose you could argue that he never really quit smoking, he just became a very light smoker, but nonetheless he was beginning to get his wind back, and he was able to taste things again. So the times when he cheated may have helped at the immediate moment but it made him feel horrible about his supposed lack of will.
Soon after I got back to Boston he and his girlfriend invited the two of us, Keira and me, to a dinner party. Eight couples, all photographers (GOD it’s good to home) and he began asking Keira and me about e-cigarettes over dinner. As it turns out he had reached a point where he had to find a way to quit completely or try something else. He even thought it might be a good time to maybe forget about going “smoke free” if he could find a good electronic cigarette and since I had been working with Spinfuel…. Well, you know where that went.
“I want something that looks, feels, and acts like a cigarette” – Friend
He wasn’t interested in fruity flavors or desert flavors, he was a tobacco user and wanted something that tasted like a cigarette, and looked and behaved like one. What could I tell him? What company out there has made a good cig-a-like with tobacco flavors that closely resembled a cigarette. None. Basically what he wanted was a Winston that didn’t smell and didn’t kill you. He wasn’t even too keen on having to charge batteries and wanted nothing to do with filling his own cartomizers, or getting into the large battery and clearomizers and tanks part of the e-cigarette market. Easy, quick, no messing around, he just wanted to smoke and not have to worry about offending his models, his girlfriend, or others that he knew who either never smoked or gave it up long ago.
Halo Cigs Retail Packs
When Tom had sent up a bunch of e-Liquids for the July celebration he included a couple of these very cool Halo mini-starter kits that Halo is selling in limited markets. They’re inexpensive, about $20, and contain a single G6 battery, 3 prefilled cartomizers filled with their Tribeca e-Liquid, a USB charger and a nice solid case to slip it in your coat pocket or purse, or even the back pocket of a pair of jeans. I thought this might be the way to go with my friend. (Halo also makes a menthol version but I don’t know which e-Liquid they use for the prefilled cartomizers in the retail pack).
Even though Tribeca doesn’t taste like a tobacco cigarette it is still one of the absolute best e-Liquids for people that think all these flavors and complex blends are too “foo foo” for them. Tribeca is a delicious e-Liquid with a serious flavor profile. Like someone down south once said, ‘Halo e-Liquids are for grownups’.
After he talked to us about the e-cigarettes, and while it was still early in the dinner, I walked home (across the street) and opened one of the kits and started charging the battery and then returned to the dinner table. A couple of hours later I went back home to grab the starter kit. The battery was fully charged so I screwed on a cartomizer and walked back over. I told him to spend about an hour with it, and “smoke” it all he wants.
The bottom line was that he thought Tribeca was a great flavor (“Better than tobacco, I’ll be damned!”) and he loved the amount of “smoke” that he would get from it. He said it also “felt” like a cigarette when he smoked it. In other words, he said he didn’t feel like he was sucking in vapor, he said it felt like smoke. I’m guessing he means it had a solid throat hit because it does. I told him he could keep the kit and that I would give him a few more batteries. When Keira and I hade some free time we would make him up a batch of cartomizers filled with Tribeca, 24mg nicotine. That was the least we could do for my long-time friend.
Over the next few days we would find an hour or so here and there and we wound up filling about 50 Halo cartomizers that I had shipped up to me. The cool thing about Halo’s blank carts (as well as their prefilled carts) is the plastic flip-top box they come in. Giving him 10 plastic boxes of prefilled cartomizers would keep him happy for at least a month. We gave him a few while we were making up the ‘batch’ to tide him over.
Yesterday, the 4th, everyone got together for a cookout (it was hotter than it was in Florida!) and he told me that he has a shoot coming up on Saturday with a model that hates cigarettes. He’s excited to see if the e-cigarette passes muster with her, if it does, he can return to smoking while shooting. That would be a great thing for his work and his stress. I’ll let you know next week how it goes. He said he would buy the Tribeca and blank cartomizers while we agreed to help out once and a while by sitting with him and fill the cartomizers. He’ll learn to do it for himself at some point, but as of now he’s still uncomfortable with the whole thing.
If you’re looking to get a friend or family member off cigarettes you might want to think along these lines. Give them something you know will taste good, work well, and help them avoid the trips of buying NJOY’s and other crap products on “spur of the moment” impulse buys. The Halo kit is an exceptional “starter” because the quality is high but the investment is small. I’m going to get a few more of these for some others I know that still smoke and just wait for the right time.
By now you know that Spinfuel now has two teams doing the e-Liquid reviews. This will give us the opportunity to expand out reviews moving forward and I’m really excited about that. I absolutely adore seeing Tom is a leader position, he so deserves it, and he is doing an amazing job. With Jason up here with Keira and me I think our teams are perfectly ‘even’ as far as talent goes so you can expect great reviews coming from both teams. Our new members, from the old Spinfuel crew here and Angel and Nicole down in Florida the teams are both ideally set up.
Our team, Team B, is currently working on 6 flavors from The Vapor Girl, including one called “Pizza”, which I have not yet tried. Frankly, I’m a little afraid of an e-Liquid that tastes like pizza, but I’m certainly going to do try it. Tom’s team is currently working on Virgin Vapor and the flavors they picked out for Tom’s team sound wonderful.
This week, even with the holiday, we were able to publish three e-Liquid reviews, Clevervape, Mister e-Liquid and the incredible Pink Spot Vapors. Team B, my team, was the one that did the Pink Spot review, while John conducted the interview that was published along side the review. When we discovered that we were going to award 4 out of 8 Pink Spot flavors with the Spinfuel Choice Award we were ecstatic and a little worried at the same time. Every flavor they sent us was excellent, but even so, awarding 4 out of 8 is quite a big deal. But, we never know which flavor is going to be awarded a Choice Award until the score are tabulated. The one’s that made the cut definitely earned the awards though, and the other four were really close. I hope you enjoyed the review and the interview. I couldn’t believe how long ago it was since we reviewed their e-Liquid. That will have to change.
Until next Friday, have a great life!