So you’re thinking about vaping

by Craig Maltby, for Club LT

Author’s note: Since I posted this story this past summer, an outbreak of vaping-related illness and deaths — hundreds of pulmonary disease cases (lung function impairment) and 8 fatalities as of Sept. 23 — have hit the U.S. Vaping juice manufacturers are being investigated by the FDA and CDC.  There has been no single cause identified; some experts think these cases may be caused by vaping consumers using homemade, unregulated vaping juice. Others speculate cannabis additives to vaping juice may be a factor. And some believe the simple act of vaping may be proving to be dangerous to one’s health. 

Therefore, I recommend against trying vaping at this time until more results from these investigations are gathered and published. The original story is below.  

I tried vaping once.

I was at an Oktoberfest beer bash (that sounds redundant). They were handing out free sample vapes with a cheap disposable vaping pipe. I chose some kind of fruity flavor. It was pretty good. I’m a non-smoker, so I didn’t try it to try to give up cigarettes. I just wanted to see…and taste…what it was all about.

So what do guys do if they want to try vaping, either to wean themselves off cigarettes or just to try something new?

I’ve gathered a little intel from a local vape shop just a few blocks from my place. It’s called Central Iowa Vapors and they have 9 stores in Iowa, several in Minnesota, and are still growing.

The staff there—Kynlee, Adian and Joey—answered every question I could think of. They estimated 25% of the customers they serve are coming in the store to try vaping for the first time. Most are trying vapors to get off cigarettes. Many are trying it to explore something new or to share the experience with their vaping friends.

States and cities may have different vaping age laws, either 18 or 21. The liquid inside a vaping unit, or the “juice,” as they call it, may or may not contain nicotine. Juice that does have nicotine in it is called salt, or “nic salt,” as the nicotine is derived from tobacco plants and other natural sources as a salt, and mixed within the juice, which is comprised of a couple basic ingredients; propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. The result is a nicotine inhalation that is smooth doesn’t create the throat burn of cigarettes. But again, there is also a huge assortment of nicotine-free vape juice.

Central Iowa Vapors, near Des Moines, served up blogger, Craig Maltby’s first vape experience.

The staff at Central Iowa Vapors (Kynlee, Adian and Joey – pictured above) seemed to get smarter and smarter about the subject of vaping the longer Club LT blogger, Craig Maltby, stayed in their shop and talked to them.


Vaping units can range from $20 or $30 to $2,000 or more. The reason is that there are many components that make up a vaping unit; the tank, the coil, the electronic chips, the power levels and batteries, and the materials and design of a product. A lot of veteran vaping fans like to build their own vaping unit, selecting custom components. It’s a real art.

I asked one of the CIV staff about his vaping. He has two units; a larger one for just getting a fruity taste and a small one—it kinda looks like a laptop flash drive—for just getting a nicotine fix. The small one has a tiny, stamp-size disposable nic salt juice packet. He said he puffs it 15 times a day, and it lasts for weeks; kind of amazing for that little device.


Of course, the big question about vaping is: How much healthier is it than smoking cigarettes? One CIV team member told me “vaping is 98% healthier than smoking.” I don’t exactly know where that number comes from. This might be the source.

The arguments for and against vaping are too lengthy to summarize here. While vaping certainly eliminates many of the toxins contained in cigarette tobacco (tar, many dangerous gases), questions and data focus on lung health impacted by nicotine, the impact on developing brains of teenagers (yes, they can get vaping materials through their older friends), and impact on fetal health in pregnant women.

The bottom line: vaping is your choice. Years of study are needed to reach any definitive conclusions. Approach that choice with information.

I don’t vape, but if I did, my first action would be to visit a vaping retailer that knows what they’re selling and knows the industry. Ask them many questions. For example, I asked them about the juice they sell, and how they know what’s legit and what’s “black market.” They told me all juice they market is manufactured in compliance with FDA requirements, with standards for controlling impurities, sourcing of raw materials, storage/handling and the like.

Such retailers will also know how to assess your needs/desires from vaping and set you up with a product that addresses those needs. There are many variables in a vaping system; power, intensity of the draw, juice characteristics, etc.

If you vape, vape smart.

About Craig Maltby
Craig Maltby is the Club LT community manager. He lives and works in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. When not writing or editing, Craig goes to movies, plays golf (or at least hits balls at the range), and plays keyboard in a classic rock music duo.

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