This past year was all about the "vape." But the trend in which smokers inhale vapor from tobacco, marijuana and other nontobacco-based liquids is gaining even more followers among smokers and nonsmokers.
This year, the retail vaping industry is forecast to reach $3.5 billion, more than twice the $1.7 billion estimate for 2013, according to Bonnie Herzog, Wells Fargo Securities' senior tobacco and beverage analyst.
And even though regulatory hurdles remain, curious consumers are pushing vaping's growth.
Vaping involves inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette. When users draw on the device, its battery heats the liquid, which is then atomized into an inhalable vapor.
E-cigarettes differ from traditional cigarettes in that there's no secondhand smoke associated with vaping. Users of nicotine and flavored liquids do not get high from consuming such vaporized liquids. However, vaping marijuana-infused liquids will get users high.
Alexandra Kapitanskaya, based in Washington, D.C, turned to vaping to kick her nicotine habit. She's no longer a half-pack-a-day smoker, but she still turns to vaping as a hobby.
"I thought it would be a more healthful alternative to smoking and it was a better bet," she said. "I am bringing more and more friends into it. We get together, have a glass of wine—it's fun. It doesn't smell and it doesn't make you cough."
And she said it's saving her money. Although e-cigs and vaporizers can run anywhere from $50 to $200 each, the liquids she vapes only run her about $15 a month.