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Some people say quitters never win but Mary Tobin might not agree with that. Tobin is the co-owner of one of Burbank’s newest businesses, Quitters, located at 8548 S. Cicero Ave. Quitters specializes in the growing industry of electronic cigarettes.
Tobin explained that an e-cigarette uses a battery powered heating element to atomize a nicotine solution (referred to as “juice”) that is inhaled by the user - fulfilling the smoker’s desire for nicotine. “While the nicotine used in electronic cigarettes is extracted from tobacco, there is no actual tobacco or combustion involved in the process of electronic smoking so the dangers are greatly reduced,” Tobin said.
Although Quitters has been in business over five months, Tobin has scheduled a Grand Opening event Saturday, Sept. 28. The grand opening will feature sale prices on merchandise, free samples of juice in newly released flavors, and baked goods.
Inhaling the vapors from these e-cigarettes is called “vaping” and the people who use them are referred to as “vapers” or “vapes.”
Tobin said she and her husband Chris, a law enforcement officer, were trying to quit smoking about three years ago. They began researching e-cigarettes after nicotine patches and gum failed them. “We had to start vaping because he was no longer permitted to smoke in the squad cars. We quit (cigarettes) from the day we began vaping and never went back. I like it better, there’s no stinky smell.”
Tobin explained the liquid or “juice” in e-cigarettes can be purchased in varying nicotine levels that smokers can use to slowly wean themselves from cigarettes. She believes that even if smokers can’t completely overcome their nicotine addiction, vaping is a much safer alternative. Some studies seem to support Tobin’s belief although the general consensus is more scientific research needs to be conducted on the subject.
Mary and Chris became active in the vaping community and in July 2011 began hosting a primetime internet web show on VapeTV.com. Through her web show, Mary met Mike Nance the owner of Roar Vapor. Nance encouraged Mary to open a store and the two became partners in Quitters.
Tobin said she began scouting a location for the store on the southwest side because it was close to home and most of their competition was on the north side of Chicago. She looked at locations in Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge before deciding on Burbank. She said the City of Burbank has been very cooperative and easy to work with.
Sales have been consistently increasing and the shop has been profitable since shortly after opening. This has allowed Tobin to expand product lines and stock. She estimates the store services between 35-50 customers per day and that number is trending up. Tobin has used ads in local newspapers and direct mailings to get the word out about her new store. She also uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to maintain engagement with her customers.
E-cigarettes were invented in China and introduced to U.S. markets around 2008. There are essentially no federal laws regulating e-cigarettes and a series of state and local regulations have sprung up governing their use. Illinois does not regulate e-cigarettes with the exception that they may not be sold to minors.
Although state law does not specifically ban vaping in indoor public buildings, Mary’s husband Chris Tobin said “People get the wrong impression because they see the vapor so I tell people they should ask, be respectful, treat it like it smoking because pretty much it is. You shouldn’t walk around and think you should be able to puff anywhere.”
(The Tobins' web show, Sgt. Taz & DangerGirl, streams live on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. CDT at VapeTV.com).