Although Capitol Hill residents may pride themselves on their otherwise healthy lifestyles, you don’t have to go far down Broadway before seeing someone smoking a cigarette. Zach McLain is looking to change that. Having smoked for more than 25 years, McLain is now looking to help people on Capitol Hill find what he says is a healthier alternative to the neighborhood’s most conspicuous addiction with his new electronic cigarette store, Future Vapor.
“We wanted to be part of the community and help guide people here through the process of electronic cigarettes, and we were overjoyed when Capitol Hill opened up for us,” McLain said about his 12th Ave store. “It’s new, and there’s a lot of information out there, and It kind of requires someone to walk you through how this alternative to smoking actually works. Our whole, main focus is to help the community stop smoking cigarettes.”
A Tuesday vote by the lawmakers in Olympia, however, could jeopardize the future of the new Capitol Hill business. A House of Representatives committee approved legislation to impose a 75% tax on e-cigarettes.
McLain testified against the bill last month in Olympia.
Although McLain says his store is off to a strong start in the six weeks since Future Vapor’s grand opening, he told us prior to Tuesday’s vote the bill’s approval would put the brakes on his business by imposing a tax rate comparable to the 95% tax charged on tobacco products.
“A lot of people have bad information on this, but vapor is not tobacco,” McLain said last month. “You can’t tax it the same way as tobacco because it really doesn’t have the health effects as tobacco, and the whole reason why the tax is there at all is because of the health side-effects.”
After being introduced in 2007, electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to traditional tobacco-based products. While cigarettes contain dozens of harmful chemicals, e-cigarettes utilize a nicotine-infused alcohol solution that is released as an odorless vapor by a battery-powered heating element. Although nicotine is highly addictive and the FDA remains uncertain on what the potential long-term effects of inhaling pure nicotine, the substance lacks the carcinogens or tar that is found in tobacco.
Despite the growing marketplace for e-cigarettes, many tobacco users have still been reticent to switch over after trying them, while others have voiced concern over any unknown health effects. But according to McLain, having a brick-and-mortar store dedicated to vaping allows people to find the flavor and device that works best for them while also providing people the information they need to counter the misconceptions about it that many have.
“There are millions of flavors and types of hardware online, but you’re not quite sure if that flavor is right for you,” McLain said. “People will come in, and I ask them what kind of cigarettes they smoke and how many a day, and then I can figure out what’s right for them.”
Future Vapor is located at 1828 12th Ave. You can learn more at future-vapor.com.