Interview with Kristopher Brady – Vaping In The Army
I’ve heard many positive stories from vapers in the past year and a half. But, of all the hearings I’ve been to and watched live or via replay, Kristopher Brady is the first current member of the military that I’ve seen speak for a hearing on electronic cigarettes. This could be a major reason that the committee members asked questions to this young gentleman while adamantly denying the opportunity to ask questions of most of the rest of the community, elected officials and even professionals who spoke. Putting your life on the line for our freedom is the greatest honor anyone could give. And to have Kristopher on our side of the equation speaks volumes to politicians. I wanted to take this opportunity to sneak a peak into vaping in the armed forces.
Alex – If you would, please tell the readers a little about yourself.
Kristopher – I smoked cigarettes for 3 years. I started when I was about 15. I started asking people for cigarettes on the street as just one of those normal things that teenagers do. Then, my mom found out I smoked. She bought me my packs of smokes from there, so I wasn’t going out on the streets to get them. She figured if I wanted to smoke I would do it anyway. This way she could monitor it. It turned around just before my 18th birthday; I had a friend that got me into vaping, and it changed my life. Everything about it changed my life.
Q – When did you enter the army?
Kristopher – I’m stationed in Fort Lewis near Tacoma Washington. I entered the army a year ago, so I haven’t been in as long as many of the other members that vape have been in the army. And, I quit smoking by using electronic cigarettes a year before I joined the military. But, if it wasn’t for vaping, I would still be smoking. My PT scores would be low, and I might not have made it through basic training. As hard as it was, basic training would have been a lot harder as a smoker. Vaping also helped me with the withdrawls that I was having. All I wanted to do was vape. I got through AIT (Advanced Individual Training), and the privilege of having done that, and vaping helped me through that more than I can ever explain.
Q – Can you tell me a little about the availability of either tobacco products or vapor products on base as a member of the military?
Kristopher – There isn’t any vapor products on base. We get the privilege of going off base so we support our local shops and purchase from there. I don’t live on base, and I’m not on active duty at the moment, I’m a reserve. Either way though, you get chow time or numerous breaks throughout the day that we can leave base to go support our local vape shops, get e-liquid, get the new and latest tanks, mods and all the rest. On the base you can buy cigarettes. You can’t buy vapor products on base, except at the gas station on base they might have the cigalike styles, but I haven’t really noticed them. In my opinion the cigalikes don’t help me. If you’re vaping with nicotine, you’re not going to be able to quit with cigalikes, and you get better flavor from vape shops.
Q – How far is the local vape shop from the base?
Kristopher – It’s only about a mile and a half. So, if I’m on base I just have to take a right out of the base and the Vaporium is easily accessible for me. We also have the Vapor Cafe on 6th avenue that has amazing people. Everyone in the vaping community is amazing. I’m privileged to live in the Pacific Northwest where if you were to go down south or to the east coast there isn’t as much available. You have all the main-stream vape shops in Washington including Nectar, Savory Vape, Fat Clouds and of course Mt. Baker Vapor. All the big-market vape shops are in Washington state.
Q – How many people would you say are vaping vs smoking in the army there?
Kristopher – As of what I’ve seen, a lot of people smoke and a lot also vape. When I go on base I usually use a Sigelei with a Sub-Tank, but it depends on what I’m doing that day. Some people on base look down on vaping and they say “get that cloud away from me”. Some people vape, and others say they would rather smell vape than cigarettes. It’s just like anywhere else, it depends on the individuals point of view.
Q – Have you helped people switch to vaping on your base?
Kristopher – A few people had switched before I came to base, and I’ve become friends with them. A lot of people have come up to me and asked “what is that?”. I tell them it’s a vape. I’ll let them try it, and they’ll go buy a vape. Sometimes they continue to smoke and vape for a while. Then, eventually they’ll realize that smoking is nasty. Soon enough, they’ll smell a cigarette and want to throw up from the smell. The other day I was walking up to a vape shop. There were two females standing on the sidewalk smoking. All of us walked into their cloud of smoke and we turned white, it was gross. I don’t like the smell of cigarettes anymore, I hate the smell of cigarettes. I switched my mom, brother-in-law, sister, sister’s friend and another friend. All of us bought vapes and just quit smoking. It helps tremendously.
Q – Let’s talk a little bit about the House Commerce and Gaming Committee hearing on HB 1645 this past Monday. How did you hear about the hearing?
Kristopher – There was a big invite to a rally that was on Northwest Vapers Facebook page. It told everyone where and when to show up. Everybody and their mom showed up to that vape rally! We filled 4 rooms in the basement of the capitol. We had that building packed. Kim, the owner of the Vaporium, came up to me and asked me if I would speak. I’m not very good at public speaking, but I did the best I could. It was more interesting than anything to hear the other people’s side of the story, and then we spoke in opposition to it. We think that it shouldn’t be banned or taxed and that everyone is going to lose their job because of this bill. And, people are going to convert back to smoking, and that’s not what any of us wants. Hopefully we made a difference.
Q – Do you think in the future that we can get more members of the military to come to hearings to testify as you have done?
Kristopher – A few people I know on base wanted to go speak at the capitol. The only reason they weren’t able to is because, again, I’m reserve and they’re active duty. They had to work that day. It all really depends on what they’re doing that day and what their schedule is. On short notice, you can’t just tell your Sgt. Major that you’re going to a vape thing and get approved for leave. If you have more time you might get approved for something like this, but not in a day or two. So, I was fortunate enough to go, and I wanted to talk. So, I spoke my peace. Hopefully we’re going to defeat this bill so people will have a safer alternative to go to, so the members of the military won’t fail their PT’s, and they can walk up stairs without losing their breath because they smoke. It has helped me tremendously, and the community is wonderful. Everyone helps everyone here. It’s a nice feeling to get somebody to switch to vaping from smoking and then see how it impacts their life positively.
Q – What would you say to vapers about speaking at local or state levels in the future?
Kristopher – I always say, if you have something to say you should say it, before something happens. To all the vapers, continue to do what you’re doing. Help people quit smoking. Help people find that safer alternative that works for them. Help people make a difference in their life. Continue to be there for each other like we have been through this entire bill. There might be drama between people in the vape community. There might be times where people get banned from shops from doing dumb things, and other issues. Keep continue fighting, vape strong and at the end we all become a family. I don’t go on vape sites to show off my vape gear. We have vape meets, we help one another and support one another. If one of us is out of juice, we do the best to get that vaper some juice on the house. It’s just a wonderful community.