Vapor Shark Opens Miami's First Electronic Cigarette Lounge

You don't need to be a smoker to know how difficult it is

to quit cigarettes. Studies

suggest nicotine users fail or relapse at rate of 75 percent, the same as alcoholics

and heroin addicts. With more people than ever trying to quit smoking, numerous

stop smoking aids have been developed to help cope with this stark realization. Patches and gums have been available at your local CVS for years. But the latest quitting aid to get popular is the electronic cigarette, which delivers

nicotine in water vapor so as to not burn your lungs.

In an attempt to reach out to more smokers and deliver a

superior product in the struggle against quitting nicotine, Vapor Shark owner

and CEO Brandon Leidel opened Miami's first e-cig lounge on Bird Road last

week. We paid Leidel a visit and decided to try the stuff ourselves.

"I used electronic cigarettes myself when they first came out," said Leidel. "I realized, however, the stuff out there was just way too overpriced and of inferior quality, so I set out to change that."

E-cig kits are available at your neighborhood mall kiosk for around $150. The size compares to that of a regular cigarette, fueled by a small battery and oil drops that produce the smoke, which contains nicotine. If you wanna stay fully nicotine-ized throughout the day, you've gotta charge the battery and apply the drops several times a day. The product is almost always made in China and usually comes in a carrying case to hold the wire, charger, oil and spare battery.

"I need another electronic device to charge and carry around like I need a bad case of head lice," said shopper and smoker Chris Hanna, a New Jersey native with a minor pack-a-week habit.

Many do not like the hassle of having to smoke out of an electronic device, but the benefits may outweigh the inconvenience. The most obvious benefit is you eliminate all the tar and nearly all the carcinogens placed in cigarettes to help them burn right. Besides that, the smell most consider offensive is also completely eliminated. You no longer end up with burn holes in your clothes and you can ignore no smoking signs and puff away anywhere you like.

"At this point, I am absolutely disgusted with the smell and taste of cigarettes," said Vapor Shark store employee Oscar Rodriguez.

Vapor Shark, which launched online in 2010, offers the same size e-cigs as in the mall, but of much higher quality. Leidel recommends the "Minnow" ($50) for smokers who, like Hanna, may only have two or three cigs a day. For an average pack-a-day habit, users should consider the VS-1 ($80). Leidel was gracious enough to provide Cultist a test run.

We started with a pack-a-day habit of Newports, so Leidel and Rodriguez suggested we use the 18 mg drops. A cigarette contains about 16 mg of nicotine, and the drops are also available in 12 mg, 24 mg and 0 mg. After a brief instruction on the correct operation of the VS-1, we started our attempt to shed our sweet, horrible vice.

Any time we had a craving, we took a few drags of the e-cig. We found ourselves suckling on the thing like a baby on a teat the first day, hardly putting it down. The taste was great, and we could smoke at home, work, in the car -- everywhere.

Six hours after our first drag of the e-cig, we tried a regular cigarette. We expected to be disgusted with the taste or even get light-headed, but neither occurred.

The next day came the real challenge -- going out drinking. Every time we tried to quit in the past, the cool taste of alcohol in our throat was just too much to bear without a cigarette. Surprisingly, by exercising a bit of willpower, we found the nicotine in the VS-1 enough to satisfy our craving. By the end of the night we were grinning with pride while looking at numerous slaves to cigarettes puffing away their lives.

Three days into our experiment, and things are looking hopeful. We have already saved around $20 we would have spent on packs for each day and can see ourselves using the e-cigs to basically learn how to not smoke. It gets challenging, but much more bearable than trying to quit cold turkey -- usually a frivolous endeavor to anyone who attempts.

Free samples of disposable e-cigs similar to the

Minnow are available to anyone who visits the new store and mentions this ad. Their next event takes place Saturday, May 5th as customers are encouraged to swing by for a free beer and to learn about Vapor Shark. For more info, visit vaporshark.com.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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