Sunday, December 10, 2017

Paint me green and hear me roar!
Confessions of an e-liquid mixologist.

Hi my name is Kim, but everyone calls me Skip. I’m an ex-smoker. I’m grateful I have lived long enough to experience the joys of not only being a Mom and Aunt, but also to be a Grandma and now a Great Grandmother. That makes me sound old!!! I’m only 59 and I’m the oldest person in my Mother’s family. Most of us have family in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s. At this time in my life, I’m not that lucky. Smoking has killed off all my maternal elders.

It is not only the early death of my elders that is heartbreaking, it is the fact that smoking almost killed my son when he was 29. There’s nothing more scary than the phone ringing before sunrise and a faint voice saying “Mom, I need you. I think I’m having a heart attack.” A helicopter ride, emergency surgery, and a couple of stents in his heart later, my son was lucky enough to survive. We’ve all heard that smoking is dangerous, but who would have thought that 2 packs of cigarettes a day could cause enough heart issues to almost end the life of someone who is only 29?

As an unemployed single Dad, the medical expenses brought on by that heart attack were devastating. The warning by his cardiologist to quit smoking or never see his daughter grow up was sobering. Thus began the exploration of this thing called “vaping”. My son tried it and with in a week, he had quit smoking. He soon began to feel better, sleep better, and breath better. He was so impressed by how life altering it was to start vaping and quit smoking, it became his mission to help other parents escape an early grave and live longer for their kids. He sold everything he could, his truck, tools, stereo, guns, and other possessions to raise enough money to open a vape shop. He’s been in business now for 3 years, and is so very proud of the fact that his shop has helped hundreds of people quit smoking.

A well known e-liquid manufacturer in Minnesota took my son under his wing and taught him the craft of making e-liquid. There were many conversations between them about what types of devices and flavors appeal to smokers, because the more motivated the smoker is to use the products, the more likely smokers will succeed in quitting smoking. This mentor stressed to my son that vaping helps on many levels, and it’s not just a nicotine thing. Smokers smoke for emotional and social reasons. The act of smoking at certain times of the day or in certain situations becomes part of a smokers daily routine. Even though smokers know they should quit, they get pleasure from smoking and this makes it harder to quit smoking. A good vape shop is going to make sure that the products they sell are easy and convenient for a smoker to use, fill the needs of having something go from hand to mouth, can be used at times a smoker usually smokes, and fills that need to bring pleasure to the smoker. This gave birth to my son’s second company, when he started manufacturing e-liquids.


I am known for being a good cook. I take pleasure and pride in creating new dishes that appeal to those who eat what I prepare. The thought of creating e-liquid flavors that would appeal to adult smokers intrigued me. I did the “Mom thing” and used my skills to help my son create all the flavors his e-liquid company sells. I never took a dime from his company and refused to be put on the payroll. I’m well known in my community for volunteer work and advocacy efforts for many causes. The thought of helping to develop products that would appeal to adults and help save lives was right up my alley! I put months into developing the lines my son’s company manufacturers. There were countless hours working with his customers, having them try different combinations of flavor and providing their input into what appealed to them. I find these adult smokers have a wide variety of needs. There’s one customer who needs liquid with no flavor at all, there are people who want their vape to taste like tobacco, and there are those who never want to be reminded of tobacco again. The creations my son manufactures fills all those needs. No flavor, tobacco, fruit, dessert, bakery, candy, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are all represented in his lines. We’ve learned that adults like flavor, like a large selection of choices, and those flavors motivate them to become ex-smokers. I’m so proud of the part my creations play in saving the lives of people in my community!

I smoked for over 40 years. I tried to quit for over 20. Nothing worked long term for me. To be honest, even though I knew I should quit, and I tried to quit, and I was somewhat motivated to quit, I don’t think deep down inside, I ever really WANTED to quit. Without that driving force of the want, I think I was always destined to fail at quitting. One day, my son gave me my first vaping device. I dual used for 4 months. I still didn’t “want” to quit smoking, I just knew if I was around the vape shop, I should vape instead of smoke. One day I realized I had quit smoking. I had to think back a few days to figure out when I had smoked my last cigarette. I’ve been smoke free for 2 and ½ years already! I’m no longer embarrassed to stand in line at a grocery store, because I know I don’t smell like an ashtray and offend people anymore!

Certain things really bother me. Like when anti-tobacco activists do things to destroy my pride in being an ex-smoker and helping other people quit smoking. They demonize me for vaping, something which is 95% safer than smoking. They accuse me of advocating for vaping for the money, instead of my heart felt need to help others. They accuse me of being a part of big tobacco. I’m a broke, toothless old woman - trust me, I don’t get a dime from big tobacco! The most hurtful thing of all, is to pervert the effort I put into creating flavors of e-liquids to appeal to adult smokers and accuse me of marketing to children, of trying to addict the next generation of kids on nicotine.

Not once did I create a flavor and go “hmmmm, I bet a 12 year old would like this”. Not once. I’m not a monster, I’m a mom, an aunt, a grandma, and a great grandma. All I wanted to do is help people quit smoking so they could live long enough to enjoy their extended families. I wanted to help people quit smoking so kids would no longer be exposed to 2nd hand smoke. I wanted to make the world a better place. 

If that makes me a monster....




Skip Murray ~ a.k.a. "Momma Vape"
Tobacco Harm Reduction Specialist - Minnesota Smoke-Free
Member of the Board of Directors - Tobacco Harm Reduction 4 Life
Forever a fan of the movie "A Billion Lives" - Watch it and learn! http://abillionlives.com/ 

9 comments:

  1. Wonderful article! I could have written it! I’m 57, a mom, an aunt and I quit smoking 4.5 years ago through vaping. I opened my own Vape shop and a juice company to help other adults who can’t quit smoking through traditional ways. Children under 18 aren’t allowed in my stores. My average customer is 50+ years old...and they love candy flavors! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do. You’re saving lives.

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  9. You speak for so many of us!! I'm in the same boat and can relate 100%. I smoked 32 years I've been smoke free almost 7 years.. I smoked 2-4 packs a day!! What an amazing life change! You're amazing and do so much for your community! -Terrie

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