A local group is hoping to see a boom as smokers seek an alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
The Winnipeg Vape Club holds regular meetings to inform local residents about electronic cigarettes, which are touted as a way for users to get nicotine without the other chemicals associated with tobacco cigarettes. The products aren’t approved by Health Canada, and currently can only be sold in Canada as long as they’re not being marketed as smoking-cessation aids.
The club will next meet on Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. at the Elmwood Legion Branch #9 (920 Nairn Ave.). Club spokesperson Kathy Martin, 51, said vape meets have been held for the last several years, and have grown from just two attendees in the club’s infancy to 60 at the most recent meeting. Martin, a Garson resident, the community began online on a forum at www.wackedoutecig.ca and has developed into an opportunity for people new to the product to learn about it.
"People bring their new things that they bought, different e-juice (the liquid used to create the vapours) flavours. We talk about what’s new, we talk about who bought what and how much they paid for it, where they found it," Martin said, adding the group also discusses political and legal implications of decisions regarding vaping.
Martin said new people are always welcome, adding people attending the meeting can learn how to use the product and get advice if their e-cigarette isn’t working properly.
Some health experts are concerned about a variety of issues with e-cigarettes, as their contents are unknown because they haven’t been submitted to Health Canada, and some also claim their use may lead young people to take up smoking cigarettes.
Martin, who has used e-cigarettes for over three years after smoking for approximately 33 years, said she’s noticed an improvement in how she feels after starting to use an e-cigarette, noting she can breathe much more easily, doesn’t feel constantly congested, and has improved senses of taste and smell.
"I quit smoking because of an e-cigarette," Martin said, noting though it is not a 100% healthful choice, everything she had read suggested using one was a wiser choice than continuing to use cigarettes.
Martin said that, to her knowledge, no one in the group treats vaping as a recreational activity.
"Everybody I know was a smoker, or still is a smoker and is using it to either cut down, or some people dual-use," she said. "Every cigarette not smoked is a victory as far as I’m concerned."
In addition to the group, the local vaping community was given a boost recently when the Fat Panda Vape Shop opened at 101-883 Notre Dame Ave. late last month.
For more information on the group, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WinnipegVapeClub