Vaping in Georgia

I bought my first pack of cigarettes in April, 2007, and have been abusing my lungs since. As years passed and the days added up, so did the amount of cigarettes I lit up, smoked, and flicked away. At the peak of my habit, I was smoking three packs a day.

Cheap smokes and being able to light up anywhere I wanted did not help with my addiction. I’ve spent many nights playing video games and smoking like a chimney. At one point I realized something had to change, and I decided to try electronic cigarettes.

An electronic cigarette, or e-cig, is a battery powered device which heats and vaporizes a liquid mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and an optional dosage of nicotine.

In simpler terms, it’s basically a nicotine delivery system minus the other 3,999 chemicals a traditional cigarette contains, 43 of which are known carcinogens. Yes, that cancer causing agent you have been reading about in the news recently.

The modern e-cig was created in 2004 by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and inventor. Lik’s invention came into existence after his father, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. Lik patented his design in 2003, and it’s been copied and reproduced illegally by US and Chinese companies.

Georgia saw its first e-cig commercial in 2007, marketed as an alternative to conventional smoking. Initial versions of the electronic cigarette resembled their analog counterpart, the cigarette.

Today, vaping devices come in all shapes and sizes, from small and discrete, to large and flashy. Larger devices offer more advanced features, such as digital displays, longer battery life, temperature control, variable wattage, and puff counters.

Georgia, a country where 30%, according to a 2012 study, of the population smokes, is seeing an increase in its vaping market. In the last two years online stores, shopping mall boutiques and shops have opened all dedicated to selling and distributing e-cigarettes, e-liquids and other accessories.

I went to one of these stores, Corsair World Georgia (CWG) - a vape shop located on Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue in Tbilisi - and spoke with its owner, Paata Tsivadze.

“Corsair World Georgia strives to provide a healthier alternative to smoking,” Tsivadze told me.

“A British customer bought five personal vaporizers (PV) to take back to his buddies, because they were cheaper here than back in the UK,” Tsivadze said.

People don’t just start vaping because they are done with smoking, like I was. A CWG employee told me that customers purchase zero nicotine liquids for the experience, not to satisfy an addiction.

“Non-nicotine, fruity e-liquids are becoming more popular, but Parliament and Golden Virginia are still our bestsellers,” the employee said.

CWG offers quite a range of e-liquids: More than 150 varieties of e-liquids can be seen on display, ranging from traditional tobacco flavors, to Rum, Chocolate, and Barberry. Devices from popular brands such as KangerTech, Joytech, Innokin, Smoktech, and others, are also available.

Not everyone is a fan of e-cigarettes. Some argue that it serves as a gateway to cigarettes for kids, due to the attractive flavors and appeal of blowing vapor clouds, similar to hookahs.

A study conducted by researchers from Portland State University tested a brand of e-liquid and found formaldehyde gas was produced when vaping the liquid. Propylene glycol, when heated, is known to release formaldehyde gas. The higher the vaping voltage the more formaldehyde was detected. Formaldehyde is a suspected cancer-causing agent.

Although any harmful chemical is cause for concern, critics argue that real world scenarios of e-cig operation don’t reach the voltages that were used in the study. The long-term effects of vaping are still being studied.

However, it is still considered to be a healthier alternative to smoking, and despite the controversy, advocates continue to support e-cigarettes.

The devices can be purchased around town at Cig-Ara on Ingorokva Street, Inotech Georgia in Karvasla Shopping Center, and at shopping centers and supermarket boutiques. You can also buy them online at while e-liquids can be purchased at 24 hour drive-thru tobacco stores, Drive Tobacco and Nicotine, found around the city.

Unlike some of the small boutiques, Corsair World offers high quality vaping devices, ranging from 25 GEL to 500 GEL, and e-liquids at a fraction of the price of its competitors. CWG, with its friendly and knowledgeable staff, hip interior, and unbeatable prices, is doing it right, if you ask me.

The future of e-cigs in Georgia looks bright. The CWG owner believes it’s a growing market.

“Soon, our e-liquids will be available at all Socar fuel stations, and we have plans to expand into other regions of Georgia as well,” Tsivadze told me.

George Surguladze

29 October 2015 22:39