Behind the cloud: Digging through the vaping industry locally, nationally


Vape culture has become increasingly popular amongst adolescents and former cigarette smokers. As a result, small businesses, such as Freedom Vapes in Irving, have begun to pop up locally leading to an influx in vape pen sales.

Gracie Blackwell and Amelia Vanyo

By the year 2025, the vaping industry market will cost $50 billion.


According to the CDC, cigarette usage has declined among U.S. adults immensely over the past decade. The popularization of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) has greatly contributed to this.


Although the use of e-cigarettes is currently more widespread, there is nothing new about the technology.


The first e-cig was created in 1963 by Herbert Gilbert. The product was not popularized by many until 2003, when Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik patented the first modern e-cigarette. The reason for the change is Lik wanted a better alternative to cigarettes.


Its popularization in China quickly led to fast-paced widespread industry of vaping around the world.


Today, fewer and fewer teens are using real cigarettes. According to the HHS, from 1996-97, 28 percent of adolescents reported smoking cigarettes whereas in 2015, only 7 percent of adolescents reported cigarette smoking.


As a result, the vaping industry has quickly grown into a whole new smoking generation.


Although there are multiple factors leading to a decline in cigarette usage (such as anti-tobacco campaigns, smoke-free laws, etc), the popularization of the e-cig contributed to a decline in cigarette usage among adolescents.


Freedom Vapes shop in Irving mainly deals with customers who are looking to quit smoking cigarettes and transition to vaping to lower their nicotine dependency. Freedom Vapes follows the approach where it customizes the customers’ nicotine level from 0-24 depending on their addiction.


“We run [this business] just like every other business pretty much,” Freedom Vapes employee Dylan Vines said. “When you come in and you see us hitting them it can be a little crazy because with the bigger the mod, the more they put out kind of thing. Some people can get kind of turned away from that, but as long as you’re doing it for the right purposes to try and quit smoking then there’s no reason, it’s all good.”


Flower Mound resident Daniel Shiderly used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. It was not until he formed a bad smokers’ cough that he realized it was time for a change. Within two weeks of making the switch to vape, he noticed a big difference: his cough went away.


“You can tell the guys who are just a business, they’re just a business and just predatory, I don’t know if that’s the right word,” Shiderly said. “They know that they’re there to make money.”


Even though most Freedom Vapes customers are adults, the shop also sees teenage customers. The shop sees a common trend with this younger demographic not using vape for its intended purposes: to be trendy. It is common for teenagers to take pictures and post videos while vaping because the smoke effect that the cloud creates is aesthetically pleasing. Hines refers to such activity as “cloud chasing.”


The legal age to purchase vapes is 18.


“If you’re just [vaping] to do it because your friends are doing it, then there’s the issue, but if you’re doing it to actually quit smoking, then I’m all for it,” Hines said.


Many students use a Juul in particular because it is smaller and produces a cloud that is not as thick as other vaporizers and e-cigs, two characteristics making it easier to conceal their use in public. The ability to conceal, however, comes with a hefty price: more nicotine.


This trend is visible in Coppell, which led the Coppell Crime Stoppers to put up posters with vaping facts around Coppell High School on the bathroom doors.


Ultimately, the goal behind putting up the posters is to limit the usage of vape amongst teenagers, especially those who are underage.

Editor’s note: This story is a part of The Sidekick’s continuous coverage on vaping. Visit this article for further information.