Whether you’re out at a bar, eating at a restaurant, or catching some rays at the beach, white plumes of sweet-smelling vapor seem to be popping up more and more frequently.

Vapor pens, or e-cigs as they are widely known, are seemingly all the rage lately, with many users ditching their regular cigarettes for the newer and better alternative.

As with any new industry just taking off, e-cig shops have been showing up all around town, and there are now roughly 20 vapor pen and e-cig distributors in Jacksonville alone.

With so many options to weigh, how does one choose a reliable, and more importantly, safe, shop to purchase these new products from.

Back in 2009, when this trend was still largely unheard of, Glen Newman founded Blackhat Electronic Cigarettes and began his business as an online retailer.

“I always knew there was gonna be something that could deliver nicotine without everything else [bad],” Newman said. “I noticed that the industry wasn’t really developed as much as I though it should be, so, I built a website and that’s kind of how I got into it.”

Since starting the website, Newman has expanded his business from simply online to having its first retail store with the Murray Hill location opening in 2012, and another in Atlantic Beach opening in early 2014.

Though there are many shops here in town, Blackhat operates in a few ways that really set them apart from other vapor shops in the area, like making their own e-liquid in-house using safe and approved ingredients.

“We’ve always been geared towards providing the best products that we possibly can and I think that’s another thing that sets us apart,” Newman said. “I try to hire people who can look at things and determine what products are going to be better.”

By doing extensive market research and working closely with manufacturers, Newman and his company are able to find higher-quality products that are safe for users, all while maintaining reasonable prices for customers.

Erin Brown, marketing manager for Blackhat, said, “We’re not afraid to invest a little more money for better quality products, but at the same time, we still want to keep it affordable.” Brown added in that before they release anything to the public, everything is tested and assured that it’s safe for consumers to use.

During our interview, Newman especially stressed the importance of using US-based products, primarily for the e-liquid. “We want to make sure we know exactly what’s going into them. We look into those companies and try to determine what ingredients they’re using and where’s it being made.”

In order to further improve their product, Blackhat now even has its own laboratory in Jacksonville for testing its products with a well-trained chemist.

Newman said he chose to set up shop here in Jacksonville because he loves the city and grew up here. He hopes to bring a safe and reliable product to the community, and even offers help to local artists who want to display their artwork in his shops.

Despite what you may have heard about the dangers of this new industry, many have used vape pens to assist in quitting smoking.  Shops like Blackhat are striving to change the negative views on vapor pens and ensure the safety of their customers by offering personalized service to suit every vape enthusiasts’ needs.

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Did You Know?

  • Tobacco cigarettes contain over 7,000 ingredients (69 are known carcinogens).
  • Electronic cigarettes contain 4 ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, Nicotine Concentrate and Food Grade Flavoring.
  • The only ingredient in e-liquid which is not Generally Recognized as Safe for human consumption is nicotine (which is not a known carcinogen).  Many e-liquid flavors can be purchased that contain no nicotine at all.
  • Over 2 billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded annually (nearly 2,000 cigarette butts equals one pound) and the U.S. spends an estimated $11.5 billion per year on cleaning up litter. Cigarette butts alone make up 38% of that litter, making it the single most littered item in the world.
  • The electronic cigarette was invented in the US in the 1960s, but never became popular until recently.