Northbrook's Vapor4Life Expands Into Chicago

The local e-cigarette company has opened a shop in Lincoln Square.

Vapor4Life's Smokeless Lounge at 4100 Commercial Ave. Photo courtesy Vapor4Life
Vapor4Life's Smokeless Lounge at 4100 Commercial Ave. Photo courtesy Vapor4Life
Vapor4Life, a Northbrook-based e-cigarette company, had its humble roots in a basement with about five employees. Four years later, V4L staffs 25 and operates out of a warehouse in the Sky Harbor Business park. Last week, they opened a retail space in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood. 

For cigarette smokers seeking an alternative to the tar, ash and, well, smoke, e-cig brands provide a seemingly safer method of consuming nicotine. While the jury is still out on the exact effect nicotine vaporizers have on people, V4L's community manager, Brandon Hammond, says they helped him get off a eight year cigarette addiction.

"I can't call it a cessation tool, but it is still a better alternative to cigarettes," Hammond said. "What we've seen from studies is that e-cigs are 99 percent less harmful."

"There are some carcinogens, but it's still minor," he added.

V4L's e-cigs contain up to four ingredients: nicotine, food flavoring, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Each individual ingredient has been previously approved by the FDA, but haven't received FDA approval as a combined product. 

Recently, the local e-cig market felt a blow when the cities of Evanston and Chicago banned the products under clean air ordinances. In Evanston, e-cig use is prohibited in all areas designated “smoke-free” and within 25 feet of building entrances. In Chicago, vaporizers will soon join cigarettes and become forbidden from use in public, indoor spaces.

Hammond says the company is still unsure how Chicago's new law will affect their business, but since the Lincoln Square store is classified as a tobacco shop, V4L is hopeful that customers will still have the opportunity to test products in-store. 

"We're excited to be here in Chicago and offer that convenience to our customers," said Kevin Rubio, the manager of V4L's Lincoln Square store. "All of our managers speak Spanish and we'll help people find the right stuff for what they need [to start using vaporizers]."

Currently, V4L offers vaporizers in a variety of shapes and flavors. Some of their e-cigs look like traditional cigarettes, others are bigger and resemble cigars. 

The company offers more than 160 flavors for vaporizer use. These flavors vary from tobacco to menthols, fruits and drinks, they even have a waffle flavor. 

The flavors also come with varying nicotine quantities, higher doses for people switching from a heavy nicotine habit, to zero nicotine for folks who just like the taste and feel of using vaporizers. 

Vapor4Life also sells a cigar inspired vaporizer, designed as a complement to cigars rather than an alternative  — something to imitate a cigar without exposing other people to the smell and smoke. 

To celebrate the grand opening of their Lincoln Square store at 2307 W. Lawrence Ave., which is called E-Cigs by WOW Vapor, V4L will sell vaporizers at 60 percent off, starter kits at 50 percent off, flavors at 40 percent off, along with a discount for anyone who trades in a pack of cigarettes when buying a vaporizer. 

"You can come out and try different flavors and batteries," Hammond said. "Our goal is to make switching to vaping easier for the cigarette consumer," Hammond said. 

Vapor4Life's Northbrook headquarters and shop is located at 4100 Commercial Ave.

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