Brothers Evan and Steve Smith opened their downtown business in Springhill this month to little fanfare. Inside everything is immaculate. There is a custom-made wood counter, glass-front display cases and with the portrait of a Spanish explorer watching over their inventory its easy to imagine you’ve stepped into a ship’s gallery during the age of sail.
No one would know what loot is inside, however, unless the Smiths hadn’t made the decision to include their wares in their business name.
The Ohmen E-cigarettes and Accessories sells liquid nicotine and the means of turning into inhalable vapor. They’re one of the first new businesses in the area navigating the waters the province charted for them since lumping the product into the same legislations as tobacco smoking. While the amendments to the Tobacco Access Act in May didn’t limit what flavours of juice vape shops like Ohmen sell, it did restrict them from letting anyone know they are open for business.
It’s a disservice, Steve says, because the restrictions prevent them from addressing a common goal vaping shares with the nicotine patches, inhalers, and gum sold at pharmacies: smoke cessation.
“The one that really gets me is [when they say] it’s a gateway to smoking,” Steve said.
“I haven’t touched a cigarette since the first vape I opened,” Evan said. “I still have the last cigarette that was in my pack when I opened my first vape. Not on purpose. I just threw my pack on the desk and never touched it again.”
Both started smoking in earnest in their teens, upwards of a pack a day each. After turning to e-cigarettes both say they’ve experienced the positive affects of not smoking while changing their nicotine-delivery.
“In a week my sense of smell was greatly improved. Taste. I worked in the woods and within a month I noticed my lung capacity was better,” Evan said.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Public Health England says vaping is making significant contribution to the endgame of tobacco and their health officials recognize while vaping is not risk-free compared to smoking it carries a fraction of the harm – 95 per cent less by some reports.
Evan has collected hundreds of reports on the benefits of vaping over smoking. He’s also collected data on the juices used in the electronic cigarettes to narrow down their product line to products free of harmful compounds like diaceytel and trend towards quality.
“The whole thing about vaping is harm reduction. No one can say its 100 per cent safe, because we don’t know. It’s harm reduction. It’s better than tobacco.”
Online, Ohmen can be found on Facebook.