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E-cigarette shop aims for smoke-free world

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Local Retail > Couple sees future in vapor

By Gina Velasquez

Gator’s LA Vapor opened in May with the purpose of helping people quit — as their motto suggests, “Thank You for Not Smoking.”

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Owners Darin Diffey and his wife Shannan know how hard it is to stop smoking so they both have turned to vapor after being heavy smokers for several years.

E-cigarettes are different than its tobacco counterpart because there is no burning or smoke involved. An e-cigarette starter kit consists of a mechanism with a battery and a vaporization chamber that holds a cartridge of liquid nicotine. When someone takes a puff off the contraption, the liquid is heated, delivering nicotine into the lungs and the person exhales vapor instead of smoke.

The argument that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco products is still in question by the FDA; however, according to the website Discovery Fit and Health, e-cigs only contain nicotine, which in itself is relatively safe. The e-cigarette lacks the 4,000-plus toxins and carcinogenic chemicals that tobacco cigarettes contain.

Diffey said he always keeps up to date on the latest findings. This and other e-cigarette companies do not make safety or health claims, however they do push the benefits of e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco. There has not been enough research to reach a definite conclusion.

Diffey said he is proud of the business that the shop has been receiving and many of his regular customers have stopped smoking tobacco.

“We want people to quit smoking and we are happy to be here. Technology of the e-cigarette has gotten better over the years,” Darin Diffey said.

It is not advised to constantly puff on the e-cigarette because it is vapor. The Diffeys suggest taking a puff when needed. “I have one with me during the day with one flavor and one at home with another as a special treat,” Shannan said.

Since there is no regulation on e-cigarettes, it is not taxed by the government like tobacco is. There is no age limit to buying the products, but Darin Diffey is adamant that he does not sell to anyone under 18.

“Morally, we will not sell to kids,” Shannan Diffey said.

Also, they said they don’t sell to anyone who doesn’t already smoke. “These are for people who want to quit, not start,” Darin Diffey said.

The customer first buys a starter kit and a bottle of nicotine, which comes in a wide variety of flavors, including the traditional tobacco flavors. Regular customer Daniel Takeshi said he enjoys watermelon mixed with sour apple.

Other popular flavors are strawberry and peach. There are also seasonal flavors such as pumpkin and apple pie. A new flavor Shannan Diffey likes is called Tiger’s Blood — a combination of strawberry, coconut and white chocolate.

“It’s delicious,” she said. Her favorite flavor is pineapple. “I wanted a method to quit smoking that was a painless as possible and I wouldn’t be miserable,” she said.

Another benefit to e-cigarettes is that it does save money. A bottle of liquid nicotine or “juice” costs about $6.50 per bottle, which Darin Diffey said are cheaper than bottles of juice in Española and Santa Fe.

A bottle will last up to 5 or 6 days for a regular smoker, as opposed to the $6 plus dollars a day they would spend on a pack of cigarettes. The juice bottles contain different milligrams of nicotine, from 0 mg. (no nicotine for those who just want the effect of a cigarette) to 24 mg. The Diffeys use 16 mg.

Darin Diffey said they also have shipping for customers who have left town and still want to do business with Gator’s LA Vapor. The business has a Facebook page and the Diffeys are currently looking for a web designer to help build a website.

For more information on e-cigarette products call the shop at 661-9750.