February 23, 2015 A team of dedicated harm reduction advocates walked up the steps of the state capital of Texas with one thing on their mind, “How can we help these individuals understand that we are on the same side?” I want you to know who these dedicated individuals are. I want you to know that when the smoke clears and the dust settles, that these individuals put in hard work, tireless hours, hard earned money and lost precious hours with their families to go in and fight for the vaping industry and many don’t even know their names or that they were telling your story.
Taxation, product certification, mail order signature upon delivery, battery inspection, these are just some of the bills filed within Texas from Representatives and Senators who self admittedly don’t even understand what it is, how it is made, or the impact it has made on society. A pen put to paper on the basis of ignorance, some not even understanding what is in their own bill.All these things hidden under the guise of minor restriction, but they are all so much more. Let the education begin.
These individuals who speak loudly about the financial impact, medical strain and community impact that smoking tobacco has placed on society have no idea how much vapor products have helped to relieve that strain and helped to reduce the smoking rate by leaps and bounds. So, armed with medical data, consumer surveys, physician statements and hearts full of hope, they set out to educate.
Sparky and Rhonda Cox. In the spring of 2012 Sparky was diagnosed with oral cancer and fought through surgeries and recovery to be where he is today. He is now the proud owner of Ye Old Vape Shoppe in Sherman, Texas and continues to encourage others to lay traditional cigarettes down and turn to vapor products. We are so thankful Sparky recovered and continues to recover everyday so that we can have him with us in this endeavor.
Keith Holt is a previous smoker of 40 years. He is highly passionate about vaping and proudly owns Savor Vape in Plano Texas. He enjoys helping others make the life changing decision to use vapor products in lieu of tobacco and is a SFATA Chapter leader and diligent in recruitment and donation progression.
Chris Lumsden smoked for 14 years. He and his wife were living in Virginia when he discovered the blessing of vapor products and started selling vapor products right out of the back of his truck, educating and encouraging. He then took a trip to Texas that later became his trip home. He opened his shop, Exclusive Vapes in 2014 and hasn’t looked back. He has such a refreshing humor and creative ideas!We are thankful he is on our team.
Judi De Haan saw so many loved ones trade in cigarettes for vapor products, that she used this passion for her family’s health change as motivation to use her savings to open a vape shop. Her passion runs deep as she spends every day to educate and help others to make this life altering choice. She has been diligent in organization and recruitment and we are so glad to have her.
Gary Wood had a background in higher education and sales, but he and his wife were smokers for many years. After finding a small over crowded shop to begin using vapor products, they were sold. They went down the path of gaining their own and did so in January of 2014. They have continued to help others do the same while promoting advocacy for the vapor consumer. He is a knowledgeable individual and adds so much to our everyday charge.
Frank Blankenship a SFATA chapter leader, has become a dear friend to me, but more so, my partner in crime. He is the proud owner of Lucky Ruckus Vape Shop and was a smoker previously for approximately 31 years. He opened in 2013 after finding the benefits from using vapor products included being able to run again despite his attempt with other products and prescriptions before it. He is a passionate advocate for vapor products and has the members best intentions at heart. We are blessed to have him on our team, as a leader and a friend.
And then there is me. My name is Schell Hammel and I am the lucky cuss that gets to work with all these awesome people. They named me a SFATA chapter leader as well, but they didn’t know any better not to, so they’re stuck with me. I had three smoking grandparents that passed from lung cancer and both smoking parents suffer massive strokes. That certainly didn’t look good for me as I continued the tobacco path. After 24 years of smoking, I started using vapor products and first day, I laid tobacco down. Imagine how many loved ones I could still be around or who would have full access to life if I could have found it sooner. My medical background make e-liquid safety, purity, standards and product safety my passion along with helping every individual find what will work for them so they can be successful too. In 2011 we opened our first Vapor Bar and the people who count on us everyday have changed my life. I learned so much more from them, than they ever have from me.
So, that is the team that Texas has and frankly I am a blessed individual to be working beside them in this fight. Please let them know how much you appreciate them, because due to their diligence, hard work and advocacy, they spend countless hours to fight for you and your rights. If it doesn’t work, or things get through that we don’t like, it won’t be for lack of trying, stressing, walking, driving, flying or reaching in their wallets. They are an amazing team and they have blessed each of you with the passion to fight for you. Thank you my fellow members. I am forever changed by your outlook and perseverance.