E-cigarettes and vapes are no longer just a passing trend, and the industry shows no sign of slowing down. As electronic devices become more ubuiquitous, vaping has grown increasingly popular not only across the United States but within Carteret County itself.
The Appeal of Vaping
In 2016, 9 vape shops opened in Durham and 16 in Pitt County, with 28 in the state of North Carolina overall. Fast forward to today, Carteret County alone has 20 vape shops. This increase can largely be attributed to the convenience vaping offers: the option to smoke nicotine, as well as, in some places like California and Colorado, the option to smoke marijuana or CBD, with nearly 7,000 flavors to choose from.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping appeals mostly to ages 13 to the late twenties. However, locals of Carteret County vape shops varies widely with many shops saying they see a wide variety of ages from 20 to 50. The minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping products in North Carolina is 21, a law that stores must follow to avoid getting shutdown or violating FDA regulations.
How Vaping Started
The first modern e-cigarette was invented in 2003 by Hon Lik, a Chinese drug specialist. Lik was motivated to create a “safer” smoking alternative as his father died from cigarette smoking. Vaping exploded in popularity in 2010 as companies began capitalizing on its appeal. Vaping now comes in various forms such as, regular cigarettes, USB flash drives, and everyday items.
The Business of Vape Shops
The market for vaping has grown exponentially since its popularity surged, with 17.4 million consumers contributing to its $22 billion revenue. Business in Carteret County vaping shops is thriving, with everyone from Morehead City, Beaufort, Newport, and Havelock selling to similar customer demographics, and experiencing regular business with their respective locals.
Despite the notable increase of vape shops, there is a concern regarding vaping among students and minors. As of 2019, 5 million minors vape and a study shows vaping occurs within 28% of high schoolers and 11% among middle schoolers. To address the concern with vaping among students and minors, the Carteret County Health Department and Carteret County Public School System partnered with and introduced the CATCH My Breath national vaping prevention program.
Vigilance Of Shops Against Minors
Despite the concern, most shops in the county are vigilant in carding younger customers before a purchase. Shop owners and managers noted that minors who do come in would often see that ID is required, and would leave the shop without causing trouble.
Opening a shop in North Carolina entails strict rigorous licensing, certification, and registration through the North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR). Shop owners in North Carolina must obtain a specialized retail license, allowing them to sell regulated items such as alcohol, tobacco products, prescription drugs, lottery tickets, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaporizers solely to persons aged 21 and above. Shops are also required to send the state a monthly memo from revenue.
As per The Public Health Law Center, vaporizers in North Carolina are viewed as any “noncombustible product that employs a mechanical heating element, battery, or electronic circuit regardless of shape or size and can be used to heat liquid nicotine.”
The Future of Vaping
The future of vaping is uncertain as there remains to be more research on the health impacts of vaping on the human body. However, the vaping industry expects to see a rise in its revenue by 220% within the next 5 years.
Despite the potential changes in the industry, there seems to be no slowdown in the popularity of vaping. Whether for convenience or to indulge in the flavors and experience it offers, Carteret County locals continue to patronize their favorite vape shops regularly.