New vape shop opens near campus

College-aged vaping up, research shows

Smoke City

Smoke City

Joseph Stanger and Libby Williams

A new vape shop, Smoke City Glass and Vape, has opened across the street from Lind Hall. Store manager Henry Abdel said this is his fourth location, with two stores in Yakima and one in Selah.  

“I found the spot, and I felt like it was good for the campus,” Abdel said. “There’s a lot of people that smoke and vape, and marijuana is legalized. I figured it would help … give [students] something to do, vaping and socializing.”

Abdel said his shop sells vapes and other nicotine products, as well as water pipes.

“The disposables, they’re not good for you, they’re not bad for you, but they’re a lot better than cigarettes,” Abdel said. “They can be flavorless, they have less nicotine, only 5%.”

Abdel said most of his customers fall under three categories: those who smoke socially, those who smoke as a hobby and those who use vape products to quit smoking cigarettes. 

The percentage of college-aged adults who vaped increased dramatically from 2017 to 2019. According to a survey from Monitoring the Future (MTF), funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the 6.1% of college students who said they vaped nicotine in the last month in 2017, rose to 22% in 2019. 

Since this survey, new laws and regulations have been implemented to discourage younger adults from vaping, including raising the legal age required to buy nicotine from 18 to 21 and a temporary ban on flavored vapes and vape juice. However, without the same studies being conducted since these measures were implemented, it isn’t clear how popular vaping is among college students today.

“There was definitely a decrease in people vaping,” Chris Kraus, owner of Ellensburg Vapor CO, said. “I was the co-owner of the [vape shop] that used to be where we are now, and back then it was kind of a place for the 18 to 20-year-old crowd to hang out since they couldn’t go to bars.”

Kraus said that college-aged adults still make up the bulk of Ellensburg Vapor CO’s customers, followed by nurses from the KVH Hospital and Clinic, law enforcement from around the state and senior citizens.

Kraus said the opening of Smoke City Glass and Vape could lead to more college age students vaping.

“It depends,” Kraus said. “You know, it’s like if you have a lot of pizza places in a town then people there are more likely to eat pizza.”

Senior computer science major Sarah Kercheval, who has been vaping off and on for around 5 years, said the new shop probably won’t push students to vape any more than they already were.

“Of course, it’s possible,” Kercheval said. “I think there are so many places already available … You can walk to any vape shop in 20 minutes because of the size of the town.”

In 2020, a law passed in Washington requiring customers to be 21 in order to buy nicotine products. Abdel said he doesn’t really feel strongly one way or the other about these restrictions. He said if underage people want to smoke or vape, they’ll find a way to do it.

“I feel like even if they’re 18, they’re still going to smoke regardless,” Abdel said. 

Kervcheval also said that underage freshmen and sophomores will find a way to get nicotine regardless of an age restriction.

“They have to take illegal routes to get it,” said Kercheval. “They’ll just ask their upperclassmen to get it, or their siblings or whoever.”