Smoking is a hard habit to kick. There are multiple methods to help smokers quit - patches, gum and Chantix to name a few - but according to the University of South Florida, 90 percent of smokers begin to smoke again, most of whom in the first three months when the cravings are the strongest and withdrawal symptoms still occur. However, in 2006 a new product emerged on the market which seems to be changing the game - the electronic cigarette.
"It helps people quit more than any other products that I've ever seen," said Michael Martinelli, owner of Big Puff's Vapor Store. "Consumers just aren't addicted to the nicotine. That's a little bit of what they are addicted to, but they are also addicted to the actual motion of smoking. Like the big routine."
Martinelli took up smoking after he saw some peers doing so, and decided to try it out. He continued to for 15 years. A native of Jamestown, and a graduate of Jamestown High School and Jamestown Community College, Martinelli tried to break the habit multiple times over the years. However, nothing worked until his cousin got him to try an electronic cigarette.
Michael Martinelli, owner of Big Puff’s Vapor Store, stands behind the counter, serving some customers.
P-J photo by Mallory Diefenbach
"My cousin brought this to me a year and six months ago," he said. "Showed it to me, and I didn't know what it was but took a couple of drags. Went to the store the next day and bought it, and it worked."
Quitting his job at a bank in Buffalo, he decided to open up a business selling the electronic cigarettes which helped him kick his habit and come back to Jamestown.
"It's just a big community," Martinelli said about his store. "When you come in, you can just hang out, try some different flavors."
Martinelli explains it isn't the nicotine addiction harming the lungs, but the tar. Electronic cigarettes don't have the tar, and help to wean people off nicotine while allowing them to keep their routine. Also, instead of smoke, electronic cigarettes emit vapor with different flavors of juices people can put into their electronic cigarette.
"We make all our own custom juices," Martinelli said, citing his store had over 150 flavors ranging from tobacco, dessert, beverage and fruit with the most popular one being Smurf Island. "We have a lot of knowledge here making products."
Martinelli also said electronic cigarettes save people anywhere from $100 to $150 a month as well, depending how much they smoke.
Customers need to be 18 years or older to buy electronic cigarettes. Big Puff's Vapor Store can be found at 1310 Washington St. in Jamestown. The store is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It can be contacted at 352-9835 or found online at www.bigpuffs.com.