Vaping in New Hampshire

Where there's smoke, sometimes there's no fire

The air is dense at SubStyle Vapors on Main Street in Concord. A dozen guys hang around a bar that features what appear to be miniature electronic devices, some like tiny lightsabers from Star Wars. A roiling cloud of vapor pours from one man’s mouth, filling the room with a spicy scent with a touch of fruit.

Welcome to the atmospheric world of communal vaping. If you were unaware that such a world existed, you aren’t alone. What entered the public consciousness as the e-cigarette has quickly morphed into a multi-billion dollar national industry. It’s a diversion for most, a hobby for some, and a mission for others who see vaping as a much-healthier alternative to tobacco. 

Alex Moody, who owns the SubStyle lounge and two others like it, in Penacook and Plymouth, is heavily focused on that mission. He’s also the president of VapeNH, an advocacy group that has been successfully challenging efforts to hinder the growth of the largely unregulated industry through laws based upon fear or misinformation.

He says the suggestion that vaping is dangerous is mostly propaganda from the pharmaceutical industry, which stands to lose billions from their smoking cessation products once smokers realize they can have the pleasures of cigarette smoking without the toxins found in modern tobacco products.

“There are more than 4,200 known carcinogens in cigarettes,” says Moody, himself a former smoker, adding that e-juice used in a vaping device has only four substances: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavorings. And the nicotine can be regulated by  the user, allowing a gradual withdrawal from its addictive effects.

But most of the people at SubStyle are there for the camaraderie or just to pick up some supplies. A starter kit runs about $30 and has everything you need to vape except e-juice, which comes in hundreds of flavors for about $13 a bottle. Moody says one bottle replaces about $100 worth of cigarettes.

Being unregulated has encouraged entrepreneurs. Many artisanal varieties of e-juice are made in NH by about 15 different companies.

“There’s an incredible passion people have for vaping,” says Moody. “It’s not going away.”

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