Adam Ward had tried to quit smoking before, but it wasn't until he tried vaping that it finally stuck. Now he's trying to help others do the same through his own two vape shops in south Calgary.
Nearly four years ago Ward opened up a store on MacLeod Trail named Cloud Chaserz that sells vaporizers and e-juices. Due to the success of his business he was able to open a second shop in Killarney last year.
Ward hopes to open up more stores across Calgary and maybe one day even branch out to other places across Canada.
Originally a heavy smoker, Ward was introduced to vaping through a friend’s cousin who had used the device to quit smoking. At the time Ward was more interested in the technology and how the device worked rather than the health benefits.
“I love gadgets and stuff and he had this thing that lit up and I was like what is this and he goes, ‘You have to try this.’ I tried it and it tasted like watermelon and I enjoyed the puff of it.”
Ward says that same day he got the contact information of the seller and reached out to him. He then went on to work with that individual as a side gig to his regular job in the oil and gas industry.
“I saw how many people it helped and the business grew and grew,” says Ward.
Ward’s primary job was filling up most of his time, so he and his partner decided to part ways.
Equipped with significant knowledge and love for the industry, Ward decided to open his own store. At this point he had quit smoking for three years with the aid of vaporizers and he wanted it to be able to help others the way it had helped him.
“I hadn’t had a smoke in years so I knew that if it worked for me it could work for anybody so that was really my passion behind it.”
Ward adds, “For the first time in my life I was waking up happy to go to work and when I got to work it was a double bonus to be able to help people quit smoking and see their journey.”
Before he became a business owner, Ward worked in the oil and gas industry building downhole well tools.
“As much as I liked it, I didn’t. It just wasn’t for me, I wanted to get into sales and deal with people.”
Ward eventually moved on to work in communications, working for Rogers’ stores before opening Cloud Chaserz.
In May, the federal government passed new laws on vaping and smoking. The government confirmed that while vaping is still harmful, it’s less harmful than cigarettes and smokers who switch to vaping can significantly reduce their exposure to toxins and carcinogens.
Ward says he was ecstatic about the announcement.
“It was a huge win and a huge backer for all the things we’ve been preaching through the last four years.”
Although Health Canada has studied vaping and confirmed it to be an alternative for those wishing to quit smoking, there are still people who are skeptical or do not agree with the practice.
“You can’t say anything going into your lungs is going to be great for you, this is all about harm reduction,” says Ward.
Although nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it is not the chemical known to cause the most harm. Tar and carcinogens are. The purpose of nicotine in vape juices is to get the user off the cigarettes.
“If we can take away 4,000 chemicals and give you two, we’re doing a good job of harm reduction,” says Ward. “I’m not saying nicotine is good for you but is the not the most harmful thing in cigarettes we’re taking away all the harm and reducing it to just your nicotine and water vapor with natural flavorings.”
Russell Redekopp is an attest to this statement. Redekopp has worked for Cloud Chaserz for three years and also happens to be the manager. He was able to quit smoking for good with the use of vaporizers.
Like many others, Redekopp had tried to quit smoking and failed. Redekopp notes that it was Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking that got him off cigarettes for a while. But it was still difficult being around smokers. He was given a vaporizer by Ward – who ironically happened to be a neighbor of his – years before he started working for him. The e-juice he was using at the time had no nicotine in it and one day he had a drag of a cigarette and was back to smoking for a year.
Redekopp decided to add nicotine to his juice and was able to quit with the vaporizer.
“Once I quit with the vaporizer I knew this was what I wanted to do, I was like I absolutely love everything about this,” says Redekopp.
Much like Ward, Redekopp loves his work.
“Something I learned when I was growing up and stuck with me was find something you love to do than figure out how to make money doing it … I tell everyone that I retired three years ago … I legitimately love coming here every day so it doesn’t matter how I feel, I’m coming to work, it’s a nice feeling,” says Redekopp.
Aside from working for Cloud Chaserz, Redekopp owns his own vape juice company called Straight to Vape which he is able to sell through Cloud Chaserz and his distributors and manufactures website out of Edmonton.
Ward expresses he is grateful to have Redekopp as a part of his team. The two work together to grow their businesses.
“Outside of working for me, his business is to sell his juice and get it into other shops … it’s amazing that you can even be in an industry where you get a job that pays you, to sell your own product, like who has that?” says Ward.
Redekopp says “[Ward] is the best boss I’ve ever had hands down he actually cares about you, lots of people don’t care, you’re just a number.”
For Redekopp and Ward, vaping is a lifestyle. It helped change their lives and they want to do the same for those looking to quit smoking. Cloud Chaserz puts a great emphasis on education and safety. Ward makes sure his staff is prepared to properly assess customers and give them the best products for their situations.
“It’s our job to ask the right questions … because people are coming into us almost like we are doctors, looking at us to prescribe or give them the information they need,” says Ward.
Redekopp sums up their approach, “the people come first and the money comes second.”
- By Sam Pankiw