Like every long-time smoker, Palmetto Senior High alumnus Jim Deegan – a smoker for 30 years – had the desire to quit, but nothing he tried worked. His wife suggested they try “e-cigarettes,” or “personal vaporizers.”
They first used primitive early models, which were made in China, had screw-on batteries, set nicotine levels and no real options for customization. Though unsatisfied that he was unable to part ways with his habit at the time due to the poor quality and harshness of the electronic cigarettes, he still believed in the product enough to start a small business selling them from home.
“I was selling a smoking cessation product, yet I was still smoking, so it wasn’t such a great fit,” he says.
Deegan went online and began looking at do-ityourself kits. He learned “e-cigs” have four basic ingredients in their “juice”: propylene glycol (PG), an FDA-approved product used in baby laxatives and many skincare products, which creates the vapor and is best known for use in fog machines; vegetable glycerin (VG), which is often used as a sweetener in foods and is responsible for the “throat hit;” food flavoring and, optionally and in varying amounts, nicotine.
“I found that by buying all-American products I could mix it to a level that I was comfortable with, that I enjoyed using and which wasn’t harsh or nasty,” Deegan says.
Today, he hasn’t had a cigarette in 16 months, nor has his wife. He has also opened up the e-cig and e-juice store, vapor4you. It is his first entrepreneurial endeavor.
“This is our marquee store.” he says. “We’re basically just trying to give people a safer alternative to the addictive properties of a cigarette, which is the nicotine.”
The vaporizers vapor4you offers come in varying sizes, shapes, colors and volumes and are fully customizable. They also offer disposable, limited-lifetime novelty items, as well as retail packages used for wholesale in gas stations around the country. What sets vapor4you apart from its contemporaries, however, is that they blend all their juice – which comes in many flavors not found anywhere else – in-store. Because of this, they can design programs through which their customers can successfully wean themselves off of nicotine.
“Once the customer chooses a flavor, then we have a conversation with them about how much they smoke and we try to start them at a level that they’ll be comfortable with,” Deegan says.
From there, if the customer desires, they can gradually lower the amount until there is no nicotine in the juice. Deegan believes that customers will still use his product even after they are no longer physically reliant on it.
“We find that people who quit and go to zero nicotine may not necessarily buy as much, but they do stay with the product,” he says. “We also have a good number of customers who come in, have never smoked a day in their lives, and want to ‘vape.’”
With a mellow ambience supplemented by a brightly lit, lively aquarium, a large screen TV and a testing station where customers can test different flavors to their hearts’ content, it truly is a one-stop tobacco alternative shop.
“We want the customer to feel very comfortable,” he says. “They can come in and get their own personalized silicone testing tip, take a rack of testers, sit down and, at their leisure, taste our flavors, relax and watch the fish tank.”
Starter kits run from $49.95 to $99.95 and it’s a one-time fee. Refill bottles are $14.99 apiece. Deegan estimates that pack-a-day smokers can save more than $2,500 a year by switching to his product, though for him money is the least important thing to consider.
“Helping people quit smoking is the most satisfying thing about this business,” he says. “It’s just a great feeling for me. I feel like I’m doing something good for the community.”
For information, go to www.vapor4you.com or call 786- 592-1945. vapor4you is located at 9865 SW 184 St.