Delhi-based startup Vape Stop is an online platform offering e-cigarette kits, devices, liquids and accessories. The 6-month-old brand has witnessed a month-on-month sales revenue growth of 80-100 percent and is now focusing on offline distribution.
Smoking is injurious to health, everyone knows, but not many find it easy to escape its addictive nature. India is home to 11.2 per cent of the world’s total smokers and smoking has moved from third to second highest cause of disability, according to latest estimates in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study published in The Lancet.
The World Health Organisation calls tobacco a “gradual killer”, which is why it’s imperative to kick that butt as soon as possible. But how? Many nicotine addicts are turning to vaping, an all-inclusive term relating to inhaling and exhaling vapour produced by an electronic cigarette, a battery-powered device. The vaping culture is growing In India, and Anant Jangwal, 27 has joined the bandwagon.
Anant’s entrepreneurial plunge was inspired by the story of a colleague and chain smoker, who gave up smoking with the help of e-cigarettes purchased from New York in bulk orders. Anant realised India’s untapped potential for vaping products and gave up a lucrative management consulting job to launch Vape Stop in February 2017 .
Curated vaping products
Apart from offering e-cigarette kits, devices, liquids and accessories, the platform also provides special edition quit-kit combos, including Recent Switcher, Progressive Adopter, Enthusiastic Collector and Liquid Weaner. Vape Stop brings products from over 10 global brands along with a 60-day warranty. All products are curated for first-time vapers to help them quit tobacco.
Since e-cigarettes came to India, there has been a growing debate over the acceptance of vaping as a safe alternative to reduce tobacco consumption. Health experts are demanding necessary regulations to prohibit sale of e-cigarettes to minors while the government — skeptical of legalising vaping in India —has banned e-cigarettes sales (including online) in some states including Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Punjab and Maharashtra.
However, Anant hopes the Indian government will include e-cigarettes as part of the new plan to reduce tobacco consumption, and provide support to the industry in the future.
Smoking vs Vaping – The zero tobacco factor
As per a study by Public Health England, e-cigarettes are around 95 percent less harmful than conventional tobacco cigarettes. As many as 6.1 million Europeans have quit smoking by turning to vaping.
According to an Ernst & Young’s report, E-cigarettes: An emerging category, the electronic heating element of an e-cigarette vapourises the liquid formulation (also known as e-liquid) to form aerosols or vapours. The report highlights that no combustion takes place as the user inhales the liquid’s vapour rather than smoke; e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.
With regular cigarettes, the greatest health hazard is the smoke produced from tobacco, which affects the heart and arteries. The battery-operated e-cigarettes, with zero tobacco content, produce only vapour. E-cigarettes also claim to be free from other chemicals including cyanide, carbon monoxide and methanol, which are found in conventional cigarettes.
The Royal College of Physicians, which represents over 30,000 doctors across the globe, believes e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking, they help in quitting smoking, and do not result in re-normalisation of smoking.
Why are e-cigarettes helpful in kicking the smoking habit to the curb? Experts believe it’s because they cater to the psychological need (hand-to-mouth movement) and the physiological need (by providing nicotine). With time, e-cigarette users’ physiological need of nicotine reduces as their body undergoes a “weaning-off” effect. Tests have shown that e-cigarettes are also effective because in due time vaping enthusiasts can’t stand the taste of burnt tobacco from a conventional cigarette, and end up quitting tobacco out of will and not compulsion.
Rising above challenges and the competition
Vape Stop is not the only player in the market. E-cigarettes and related products are available on online marketplaces like Indian Vape Garage, Vape adda, Pure Vapors, iVape, Evolve Vapors, ePuffs and Vape Mantra. FMCG giant ITC and leading cigarette player Godfrey Phillips also have their own brands.
But Anant highlights that Vape Stop’s e-cigarettes are not “cig-a-likes” – the basic technology product that came years ago. The startup differentiates itself as an organised player focused on advanced e-cigarettes, a recent development viewed as an industry game-changer for its longer lasting battery and e-cig tanks, which are capable of holding more e-liquid than conventional ones.
“Being a first mover in the country, we currently have negligible competition in the advance vaping segment. Vape Stop imports from international brands, following all government compliances and operating within the legal framework,” Anant says.
Since inception, the brand has witnessed a month-on-month sales revenue growth of 80-100 percent. The six-month-old startup is currently bootstrapped, but is looking to raise funds in the near future.
Being a pioneer in India’s vaping industry, Vape Stop aims to spearhead the revolution, spreading awareness through events and discussions. Apart from its online presence, Vape Stop is also focusing on offline distribution and soon plans to launch brick-and-mortar vape stores in leading metros, starting with Delhi.
“Vape Stop’s aim is to create a widespread vaping culture in India, much like the one in the West. Our mission to make the nation tobacco-free by 2030,” Anant says.