Being a Canadian Vaper
Being a Canadian Vaper presents its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, but also parallels a lot of what we’ve seen happening in the US. In this first blurb, I’ll share a little about myself, how I got into vaping and started Moshi, and what you can expect going forward.
So about me then…
I was a pack a day smoker for fifteen years before I discovered vaping, although what I discovered initially wasn’t vaping per se. I, like a lot of people I know, started out by dipping my toe in the cig-a-like water and buying a starter kit from green smoke. Despite the inferiority of those early products to what we have access to today, I knew from the very first drag that this thing was going to change my life. That was around 2012-2013 and I didn’t fully migrate to vaping for at least a year after that. The reason was simply that those products weren’t readily available, with the only source of product being a handful of online stores and weekend flea markets.
At the time, I was content to continue ordering my little underpowered cig-a-likes with their faux tobacco flavouring while I gradually cut down on smoking the real thing. That was until that fateful day that Health Canada decided to reach out and let me know that they didn’t approve of my efforts. The letter, in short, said that I needed to go see a doctor and buy a traditional Pharma NRT, because of that product’s resounding success I suppose.
It was at that moment that I decided I was going to start Moshi (it wasn’t called Moshi at the time, that came with the help of Google translate a bit later), and I immediately started looking at ways to produce high quality products in Canada. Keep in mind; at that time I still had no stores to sell to, I just knew that we needed better products to use in Canada, and I really had nowhere to get them. The idea of doing a liquid line was also out of necessity more than anything else. Health Canada didn’t have a problem with hardware - their problem was nicotine, so the obvious solution was to start producing nicotine-containing liquids in Canada and avoiding the border altogether. The flavour development process took up the better part of a year, with us finally going live as Moshi in the summer of 2014.
Since that time, we’ve grown substantially and now sell to over 200 stores in 5 countries. We’ve acquired a purpose built 4000 square foot facility with a staff of 20 awesome people to help us grow the business even further.
I’ve also had the opportunity to become heavily involved in advocacy and was recently elected as the President of the Canadian Vaping Association. The CVA is a national advocacy group representing retailers and manufacturers across the country. We’re currently fighting provincial regulation across the country and also dealing with looming federal regulation. While the political systems are different, many of the usual arguments are emerging and we’re finding a lot of parallels in what’s happening in the US. As a result, we’re also working hard to build relationships with our counterparts in the US and abroad to continue the fight and work towards common-sense regulation.
Going forward, I’m hoping to share with you some insights on what’s happening in the Great White North and also some of my personal thoughts on the industry, advocacy, and growing a business in an emerging market.
Cheers, and happy vaping!
- Beju Lakhani