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The increase in the number of smokers in India is proportional to the increase in the number of deaths due to cancer and other smoking-related diseases.
In fact, this has emerged as a major health problem in India along with diabetes and cardiac diseases.
Nicotine in cigarettes is addictive, which makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for a smoker to stub out the habit.
Many are switching to e-cigarettes as a determined step towards the ultimate quitting.
Using e-cigarettes is sometimes called ‘vaping’. It works by heating liquid to generate aerosol, commonly called ‘vapor’, which the user inhales.
Delhi-based Vape Stop is tapping the e-cigarette market by bringing a host of leading international brands of e-cigarettes and e-liquids under one roof, offering safer alternatives to smokers.
Set up by 27-year-old Anant Jangwal, the six-month-old start-up is on a mission to start a widespread vaping culture in India and make the nation tobacco free by 2030. It offers widest variety of products made of guilt-free substitutes and significantly safer for smokers.
The bootstrapped start-up is looking to raise funds in the near future to open brick & mortar outlets, thereby increasing its reach to create a multinational presence.
Vaping Helped Smokers in the West Quit Smoking
Taking cue from his colleague, who was a chain smoker, Jangwal thought about setting up a vaping start-up.
“I learnt about the benefits of e-cigarettes/vaping when my colleague, a chain smoker consuming a pack a day for the past seven years, suddenly quit smoking. He had found a substitute. He started purchasing e-cigarettes from New York after a medical practitioner recommended him,” said the young founder.
Jangwal’s friend was forced to buy his e-cigarettes supplies in bulk from the US as these were nowhere available in India.
An increasing number of smokers in the West is quitting tobacco because of this revolutionary product. The UK government officially promotes vaping as a smoking alternative and there are numerous credible studies by medical professionals in favor of the concept.
“All these reports prompted me to try and implement the idea in India,” he explained.
Despite the rising popularity of e-cigarettes, the vaping industry brings its own unique set of challenges.
For Jangwal, his first challenge was to identify top products and international brands that he wanted to partner with and launch in India. The second was finding a legitimate way of importing and retailing e-cigarettes. He initially held meetings with lawmakers to understand current regulations related to such a new and sometimes misinformed category.
Leading a Vaping Revolution
Apart from selling e-ciggarettes online, the start-up is spearheading a vaping revolution in India. Through discussions and awareness programmes, the company is educating medical practitioners and government policy makers. It is using data from fact-based research on e-cigarettes to corroborate its claims and officially recognize the product for public welfare.
“We are also focusing on offline sales in addition to online, which will provide additional revenue to shop owners while reaching out to more and more smokers wanting to buy e-cigarettes. We are in the talks of launching brick & mortar vape stores in top metro cities, starting with Delhi. These specialty stores will only sell vape products, and will aid in fostering meaningful conversations with smokers, looking to quit tobacco. They will even have the option to try various devices and liquids before purchase,” he said.
Competition Close to Nil
The vaping industry in India is growing and so are the start-ups. Jangwal claimed Vape Stop has an exclusive tie-up with select top international brands, which makes them their sole marketer and distributor in India.
“Being a first mover in the country, we currently have negligible competition in the advance vaping segment. While ITC and Godfrey Phillips have their own brands, their e-cigarettes are ‘cig-a-likes’ — the basic technology product that came years ago. On the other hand, Vape Stop is an organized player, focused only on advanced e-cigarettes, which are real game changers,” he stressed.