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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 20, 2018)
WEEKEND, JANUARY 20-21, 2018
Makin’ that vapor
Staff photo by Kathy Aney
Glenn Purcell, Marcus Todd and Shelton Shipman blow out clouds of vapor.
Local vape enthusiasts take hobby to competitive level
By JAYATI RAMAKRISHNAN
Glenn Purcell blows a long stream of
vapor and starts thinking.
“It took me a while to remove ‘smoke’
from my vocabulary,” he said. “It’s not
smoke. It’s steam. But the general public
doesn’t know that.”
Vaping has been touted by some as
a way to quit smoking. The four people
sitting in Kennewick’s Dr. Goodvape on a
Tuesday afternoon all concur. But for them,
it has become an active interest, an outlet for
creativity and even a way to get competitive.
Purcell, who works at Smoke City in
Hermiston, makes frequent trips to the
Tri-Cities to participate in vaping competi-
tions or meet up with other hobbyists.
“In Oregon, we don’t have a lot of the
competitive side of things,” Purcell said.
“The hobbyist side hasn’t taken off.”
There is one dedicated shop in Hermiston,
Essence Emporium. Owner Erika Friend said
she sees a range of customers, from people
looking to quit smoking to those who vape for
fun and flavor.
Purcell and most of his friends use box
mods. Mods are metal tubes with a battery
that powers a rebuildable deck atomizer
(RDA). The RDA contains metal coils that
heat up, vaporizing the liquid and creating
Box mods are powered by a computer
chip, allowing a user to change the voltage or
wattage of the device.
Many hobbyists enjoy building their coils
in different shapes and designs.
“The hobbyist side really helped me,” said
Marcus Todd, a bartender in the Tri-Cities. “I
learned how to make coils and kept my hands
busy. I quit drinking and kind of quit smoking
at the same time.”
While he doesn’t spend as much time
building coils now, he will still make them for
friends who ask.
The purpose of building unique coils,
Todd said, is to get different wire effects that
are visually interesting and can increase the
size of the vapor cloud.
And that leads to competition, which can
range from small local events to large expos.
Some, known as “cloud chasers,” focus on
blowing large clouds or columns, while others
perfect tricks: shapes, rings, or “jellyfish,”
where a vaper blows one ring, lets it drift and
then blows another ring through the first.
Chase Covert, manager of Electric Cloud
in Kennewick, blows a ring of vapor, then
quickly blows another, popping it through the
Staff photo by Kathy Aney
Glenn Purcell, of Hermiston, blows rings with vapor Tuesday at Dr. Goodvape in
first with a quick motion of his hand.
“That probably took me about six months
of practicing,” he said. “It takes years to get
Ashley Britain, manager of Dr. Goodvape
in Kennewick, co-owns Cloud Comps North-
west, a company that works with shops to
host events and competitions.
Most of the events will charge a low fee
for entry, around $1, and people can compete
in cloud or trick competitions.
“We’ll have brackets made, there’s rules,”
Prizes can vary, from store credit at the
host shop to cash prizes.
“The last competition at Electric Cloud, I
think it was $500 for first prize,” Todd said.
Amy Blaine, an employee at Electric
Cloud, said as many as 100 will compete at
local events. Regional events, such as the
West Coast Vape Expo, will draw many more.
Though Purcell and his friends quit ciga-
rettes through vaping, there are still many
concerns according to health professionals.
Mariah Hinds, Umatilla County’s Tobacco
Prevention and Education Coordinator, said
there is not a lot of research available about
e-cigarettes and vape pens alone because they
are fairly new products.
“The data I do have separates cigarettes
and non-cigarettes,” she said. But the
“non-cigarette” category includes pipes,
cigars, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.
She said many people do use e-cigarettes
as a way to quit smoking, but it’s not recom-
mended by health professionals.
Ingredients in the liquid include propylene
glycol (which the FDA says is safe in food
and cosmetics, and is also used in artificial
fog machines); glycerin (which is found in
several food and drug products); flavoring;
and often nicotine.
While it is possible to vape marijuana,
there is not a lot of crossover. The liquids for
the two substances are different and require
Hinds said one concern is that many
people are drawn to e-cigarettes because of
the packaging or different flavors, which can
be appealing to young people in particular.
“Some of the flavors are approved for
consumption under the FDA, but not for
inhalation,” she said.
Britain said she carries at least 90 flavors,
most from local companies. Fruity flavors
tend to be most popular, she said, edging out
Some mimic well-known products.
“Swedish Fish is spot-on,” said Blaine.
“It’s a little sweet for my taste.”
Hinds said that while cigarette use is down
somewhat with Oregon youth, e-cigarette use
has jumped in the last few years.
“From 2013 to 2015, it went from 5
percent to 17 percent,” she said.
Hinds said the most successful way to quit
tobacco is to make a quit plan, set a quit date,
use FDA-approved nicotine replacement
therapy and talk with a tobacco cessation
counselor. She offered a phone number for
the Oregon Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Some health organizations have raised
concerns about the effect of the high tempera-
tures that e-cigarettes can generate.
But shop owners and hobbyists say there
are labeling requirements — Britain said 1/3
of a bottle’s label must be a warning.
“All the horror stories you see out there
about someone getting parts of their face
blown off — all those cases are user error,”
Purcell said Oregon shops have faced some
new challenges, with a law going into effect
Jan. 1 that raised the legal age for purchasing
tobacco to 21.
“We probably lost half our business,”
Britain said she was glad Washington
passed a law to specifically regulate vapor
products, distinguishing them from cigarettes.
“They regulated it instead of condemning
it,” she said.
Some say it has helped them completely
eliminate their use of nicotine. Britain
said for her, it happened overnight. Once
she started vaping, she never went back to