CASTLETON CORNERS-Even before he graduated from Temple University Law School last week, Adam Tredwell-founder and co-owner of Vermont Vapor, Inc. of Castleton-was well on his way to being a successful entrepreneur. Tredwell's Rutland County business started with a simple solution for millions of tobacco smokers worldwide: how to enjoy smoking without the risk of inhaling cancer-causing smoke, tars and related by-products?
Tredwell, a Rutland High School Class of 1996 alumnus, developed his electronic cigarette, or e-cig, operation while still a college undergraduate.
The business evolved at his mother's suggestion; she wanted to quit smoking and had learned about unusual electronic devices manufactured in communist China (although the Chinese-made liquids vaporized by the e-cigs to form the ersatz smoke are of very dubious quality and content).
"You get the feeling of smoking without smoking," he said. "My Vermont-made content is clean water vapor with a little citric acid and natural flavoring." Tredwell and his mother, Linda Barker, manage the year-old corporation all by themselves.
For Tredwell, it took focus, a creative product idea (a much needed smoking alternative), a clever marketing plan, a user-friendly website, and a genuine Vermont storefront to establish the business. He had already decided to find an alternative to traditional smoking when he couldn't smoke during college exams. With all that now in place, Vermont Vapor is really-you should pardon the expression-smokin'!
Despite a fire last month that destroyed Vermont Vapor's rented
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e-liquid production space on Route 4 in Rutland Town, the company is back on track. Despite a local rumor, fire investigators found that the blaze started in an adjoining business; it had absolutely no connection to Vermont Vapor's operation.
Vermont Vapor's cozy retail shop at Castleton Corners has attracted e-cig fans from as far away as Montreal and Boston. In addition to the shop, a new laboratory and production facility will "rise from the ashes" adjacent to the outlet in mid June.
Tredwell is committed to satisfying the needs of hardcore smokers who are looking for a clean alternative to puffing on traditional cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
The Vermont Vapor-brand e-cig device itself is an odd blend of Chinese technology (Asians hold the patent on the electronic device) and high-quality Vermont USA e-liquid made by Tredwell. He oversees the production of his e-liquid product line which is made in a clean, quality-controlled environment. As a result, the Vermont Vapor e-cig is a truly smokeless, odorless device that is evocative of smoking-yet it is not smoking in the traditional sense.
Yes, a user puffs on an e-cig, but the misty material expelled isn't smoke-it's nearly 100 percent water vapor. (The e-cig uses a mini, battery-powered atomizer, or vaporizer, to turn pure water, food-grade glycerin, and natural flavoring into a pseudo-smoking experience.)
Thus, puffing on a Vermont Vapor e-cig is called "vaping"-short for vapor inhaling. And for many e-cig users who have failed to quit smoking tobacco through the use of foul-tasting nicotine chewing gum, cumbersome patches, even cold turkey fits, Vermont Vapor is a real lifesaver-literally.
"What you're seeing is just the vapor-no smoke. There is nothing that is burned. It's the e-liquid in the cartridge which is heated by the atomizer when you draw on the e-cig. There is usually no odor at all except maybe from the flavors, which are never overpowering or objectionable," Tredwell claims on the company website.
Because he and his mother so passionately believe in the benefits of the e-cig as an alternative to smoking, Tredwell and Barker chose to begin selling them and make their own quality-controlled liquid product line. Vaping is clearly a viable alternative for smokers.
While it's not cheap to switch from mainstream cigarettes to e-cigs (try around $70 for a starter kit that includes two long-lasting e-cigs, batteries, cartridges, A.C. battery charger, and starting liquid), the long-term costs of vaping are amazing compared to the hundreds of dollars spent monthly by traditional smokers-a cost that amounts to about $5 a week for heavy users. A single bottle of Vermont Vapor flavored vaping e-liquid will last the user many, many weeks depending on frequency.
The e- cigarette is a high-tech alternative to smoking but it is not a smoking cessation device, Tredwell said.
"Some people have quit smoking using the electronic cigarette but we make no such claims as to effectiveness for that purpose and e-cigs are not sold for that purpose," he said.
"At Vermont Vapor, all the liquid we sell is mixed entirely by us; we start with 100 percent pure food grade glycerine and add distilled water, nicotine (if you want it), and citric acid to balance the pH," he said. "To this base we add only food grade flavorings-well, with the exception of our tobacco flavoring for some of the liquids we sell. Any of our tobacco flavors we make ourselves from ground tobacco leaves."
So, how safe are Vermont Vapor's e-cigarette products?
"Our e-liquid generally contains only nicotine, vegetable glycerine, water, flavoring and citric acid. Our menthol liquids also contain propylene glycol and ethanol," said Tredwell. "These ingredients are U.S. pharmacopeia grade and/or are FDA-approved food additives. The liquid is heated in the e-cigarette until it forms a vapor, analogous to steam when water is heated. Since nothing is burned, the user never inhales any smoke or tar and only inhales those ingredients listed on each bottle of Vermont Vapor e-Liquid. However, because nicotine is an addictive stimulant, it is always best to check with your doctor before using this product. Likewise, children and persons who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not use this product."
Check It Out: To learn more about the science and art of electronic cigarettes, or for an e-cigarette demonstration, visit the Vermont Vapor store at 15 Route 4A West in Castleton. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. You can also check out the company's website at www.vtvapor.com or telephone 802-779-0185 for more details.