Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 22, 2013

Getting vaporized

Jacksonville's new electronic cigarette store caters to those trying to leave tobacco behind

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Voltage Vapor Shop, one of Jacksonville's newest stores, sells electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes. Vaporizing devices. Electronic nicotine delivery systems. They all pretty much describe the same basic thing — the battery-powered device that allows someone to simulate smoking a cigarette.

Owner Chase Calloway, who owns a companion shop in Palestine, believed enough in the new-age product to open a second store in Jacksonville.

Using some form of heat, e-cigarettes vaporize a liquid inside "a delivery system" that can contain nicotine with flavors — or perhaps even no nicotine.

Voltage Vapor Shop opened Dec. 16 at 910 S. Jackson Street in Jacksonville. This store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Such devices generally retail for about $100 or more. Refill cartridge packets have different prices, according to the level of nicotine involved. Additionally, there are liquid refills dispersed on a do-it-yourself basis.

Calloway said he was inspired to open a store in Jacksonville because of his huge customer base at the Palestine store, which advertises e-cigarettes, vaping devices, as “100 percent safe.”

But truth be told, the jury is still out on if e-cigarettes are 100 percent safe to use. Several regulatory agencies are doubtful.

Officials with the Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, are concerned the side effects of inhaling pure nicotine have yet to be adequately studied. They fear some manufacturers aren't adequately disclosing all the chemical ingredients in their e-cigarettes, according to the Discovery, Fit and Health website, http://health.discovery.com.

However, Calloway stands by his product.

"My brother-in-law, manager of the Palestine store, is now over one-year tobacco free using the product we carry," he said. "You're not getting all the carcinogens, tar and chemicals like you do from regular tobacco cigarettes. I also have doctors in Palestine sending customers to the store."

Calloway has done his own research. He even uses one himself with no nicotine.

"I asked all my customers on Facebook since they started vaping did they quit smoking or just cut back on regular cigarettes," he said, "The response was awesome! Customers told me they can run around with there kids in the yard without getting short on breath. We find that when most customers start vaping the drop regular cigarettes completely."

Calloway believes vapor shops are infinitely healthier than, say Hookah bars at which patrons share flavored tobacco from a community "hookah" placed at every table.

"I think everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health and wants to quit smoking," he said.

Calloway is a Palestine resident who has lived there all his life. His manager for the Jacksonville store, Jason Lowe, has lived in town five years and has lots of family here.

Up until a few days ago, Lowe was very busy trying to get everything in place for the Monday, Dec. 16, opening.

"Getting this place ready to open!" Lowe said in a Facebook post directly from Voltage Vapor Shop.