In a Quincy MA vaporizer retailer, two young men stood with their backs against each other – as if preparing for a duel.
Then, they pressed the tips of their mods to their mouths, and crouched, the purpose of which is to slightly increase lung capacity. The moderator counted to five and two stood up, and pushing out clouds of vapor that looked very much like a horizontal tornado.
The three judge panel of the Cloud Competition, which had 100 observers, were watching closely for density, distance and dissipation.
One of the men, a 35 year old from New Hampshire, was declared the winner.
The mostly unregulated e-cigarette community continues to swell, and these types of cloud competitions have increased in the last few years. Typically vape shop owners hand out small cash prizes and difficult to find vaping accessories.
In this particular cloud comp, there were 28 people signed up, and $1000 in cash for prizes and accessories.
Each vaper uses a special type of atomizer and a mechanical mod, which is the handle that holds batteries that give the atomizer its power. In the atomizer is a heating coil and tiny cotton tufts. These tufts are soaked in e-liquid that is then vaporized by the intense heat of the electrified coil.
The competitors drip various flavors of e-liquid onto the cotton in their atomizers. In this case, they were using Evil Empire, which has a berry aroma.
Each competitor caps their atomizer, lines up in duel like fashion with backs turned, and pushes the button on the bottom of the e-cigarette. This ignites the heating coils, they inhale the vapor and exhale enormous clouds into the air.
Regular competitors can, and do, practice for several weeks before they compete.
One of the winners once smoked two packs of cigarettes each day. He said that he started to vape in 2013 to stop smoking.
The industry has largely operated without government oversight but that is starting to chance. In Massachusetts, there are new e-cigarette regulations in effect. These rules prohibit selling e-cigs to children and outlaws promotional giveaways at vape shops.
FDA is mulling new regulations as well, which some vapers fear could slow business. But until federal regulations kick in, cloud competitions will continue unabated.