Opened on April 12 in Watertown, the New England Vaping Company is a retail store selling high-quality vaping equipment and nicotine liquid to help smokers switch to a less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Vaping, unlike tobacco cigarettes, does not produce smoke, but rather vapor.
Owner Jamie Richard, alongside his wife Heleen Venter, operate the store and are vapers themselves. Richard was a longtime smoker. He made the switch from smoking tobacco cigarettes to vaping when he realized he was smoking a pack and a half every day.
"[Smoking] was really starting to take a toll on me. I felt the effects of smoking that much, and I felt how it was changing my life because I spent more time smoking outside than I did inside relaxing.
"I spent a whole ton of money on cigarettes. There was a breaking point for me, smoking, where I was like, 'I can't do this anymore.' So I went and bought an e-cig and I never really looked back since then. I've been smoke-free coming on four years now," said Richard.
"When I started vaping, my lung function went back to normal, my shortness of breath went away, the coughing was significantly reduced, and I just felt heck of a lot better than I did smoking a lot cigarettes. My car no longer stunk ... and I was saving a ton of money."
Richard first did podcasts about vaping to introduce an alternative to smoking and attended "vapemeets," where he met people in the vaping industry, vaping advocates, and manufacturers that gave him the knowledge to start a business.
The couple wanted to open a store specializing in vaping because it changed their lives, their family's lives, and now they want to help smokers make the switch. Venter's father smoked almost three packs a day and stopped smoking within a week of vaping.
"They are a greatly reduced risk [than smoking tobacco cigarettes]. I'm helping people reduce that risk. I'm not marketing this as safer, even though I truly do believe it is. I'm marketing it as a superior experience to smoking. You don't have the smell. You don't have the waste. You don't have cigarettes butts. You don't have ash. You don't have smoke, you have scentless vapor. People have been in here vaping all day. If people were smoking all day, you'd walk in and you'd know it," said Richard.
In the process of opening the store, Richard recalled how Watertown Health has been a great team to work with. With Watertown's regulations, the New England Vaping Company strictly follows the state law, which prohibits the sales of their products to persons under 19 and those without an ID.
The New England Vaping Company carries an array of e-liquids in 60 flavors including banana nut bread, chocolate covered strawberries, and Elvis, which contains peanut butter, bacon, and banana. Customers can come in to try all flavors for just $1. Vaping kits start at $20.
All products are chosen because of their best premium quality, which includes American-made and American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA) approved e-liquids from NicVape, NicQuid, and Firebrand Liquitine. The e-liquids also have different levels of nicotine from 24mg down to 0mg.
Regarding the Supreme Court's ruling of regulating electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, Richard says the regulations are "half-baked."
"The FDA had four years since the Supreme Court case to write a proposal and take input from the state holders and they've been numb to many of the concerns of the industry ... The regulations are truly a proposal. They're not fully flushed out regulations," said Richard.
The New England Vaping Company is located on 100 Main St. in Watertown. Visit newenglandvaping.com for more information, but it's best to visit the store to get hands on experience.