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Amherst business finding success selling smoking alternative

AMHERST – There was a small sigh of relief in the Purple Haze after the Nova Scotia government said Wednesday it was going to drop parts of proposed e-cigarette legislation.  

Small but mighty, the vials of e-juice Howie Gray sells at Purple Haze in Amherst are luring lifelong smokers away from tobacco smoking and turning them towards ‘vaping’ at a fraction of what it costs to smoke each month.

At stake was the flavoured juice vaporized in the electronic cigarettes conventional smokers are turning to as an alternative for their nicotine delivery. The Nova Scotia Liberal government was targeting juice flavours but have since decided they are going to consult with Nova Scotians.

 “With the ban I was looking at 50 per cent of my inventory being banned,” owner Howie Gray said.

When Gray opened Purple Haze he did not plan on retailing the electronic cigarettes or juice, but seeing there was a demand for the products and people were willing to go out of province to purchase them, Gray added both to much success.

“E-juice represents about 75 per cent of the business’ sales,” he said.

The reason for its popularity, Gray said, is simple.

“It’s growing in popularity every day because it truly helps people quit smoking.”

The juice itself can come in popular cigarette flavours or more exotic notions, with a nicotine content that runs between 24 per cent down to no nicotine at all. Gray says he has had lifelong smokers in their 60s turn to the alternative to break their smoking habit.

“A lot of customers come in and tell me they feel better on the juice and the cough they had from smoking is gone.”

The government’s decision to not outright ban the flavoured juice in its amendments to the province’s tobacco legislation is not a clean bill of heath for e-cigarettes however. The government is still proceeding with changes to the Smoke-free Places Act prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places. It also includes changes to the Tobacco Access Act making it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.

“I have no problem with that,” Gray said. “It does have nicotine in it and kids shouldn’t be subjected to nicotine. It should be for adults.”


Bill 60 fast facts

• Will ban sale of e-cigarettes and related paraphernalia to minors

• Will ban smoking e-cigarettes in public places

• Restricts vendors from displaying, advertising or promoting e-cigarettes

• Those who don’t allow minors to enter are allowed to display products

• Will not restrict the sale of flavoured e-juices 

* Fast facts courtesy of the New Glasgow News

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