Buying vape is as easy as a kid buying a bag of chips, says Dubai shop

Girls are vaping more than boys, and are doing so “for fun”, according to Gen Z

Staff Writer 3 Min Read

Electronic cigarettes known as vapes are easily accessible to kids in Dubai supermarkets, according to vape shop owners and employees.

“Young kids don’t come to my [vape] shop, they go to supermarkets. Supermarkets sell easy They sell disposable [vapes]… Buying vape is as easy as a kid buying a bag of chips,” Abu Ali of Max Time Smoking tells Frankly. “Now I’m selling to 35, 50, 55. I don’t see too many young people because this area is all a tourist area, so tourists come to buy. All young guys go to supermarkets to buy vape,” he says.

Young kids don’t come to my [vape] shop, they go to supermarkets.

Abu Ali adds that vaping is “better” than smoking, cigarettes, because cigarettes produce a bad smell. He compares vaping to shisha.

“Vaping is more like shisha… You have to [prepare] shisha but vape is already ready and easy. [You can] go to work or office and have it in hand. Some people need smoking like when they go to the office at 8am or 9am, they need to smoke. This [vape] is easy to smoke…” he adds, with double apple, mint, and ice watermelon being the most popular vape flavors he sells.

While vaping was thought to be healthier than smoking regular tobacco cigarettes, it uses other chemicals that are just as harmful, including vitamin E acetate, which is related to lung injuries and deaths, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a national public health agency in the US.

Vaping in Dubai is allowed for those aged 18 and above. On average, Gen Z (those born between the late 1990s and early 2010s) spend $5,000 per year, driving the e-cigarette and vape market to rise from over $18 billion in 2021 to almost $23 billion in 2022, according to US-based market research company Grandview Research.

Girls just want to vape

While guys may have started the vaping trend, according to Taher at The Smoke Shop, it seems girls are buying more vape.

“I would say 60% girls and 40% guys, because it’s fancier than cigarettes,” he says of the customers visiting his shop to buy vape.

“We started this shop after the [vaping] trend started, which is when both girls and guys were smoking [vapes]. But I think the guys started the trend, because the teenagers started smoking vape, so it was bought by the guys [at first]. The trend in Dubai started 6 months back maybe,” he tells Frankly.

Buying vape is as easy as a kid buying a bag of chips, says Dubai shop
Girls just want to vape

Taher adds that the shop saw a 40% rise in the sale of vaping products this year.

“If you walk by in Dubai, most people have it [vape] in their hands,” he says, adding that the most popular flavours in the shop are Strawberry Watermelon Fusion, and “anything with Grape and Berries”.

He insists that the shop only sells to those who are 18 and above.

“The age policy is 18. If we’re doubtful about the customers, we ask for their ID,” he says.

“I wouldn’t suggest young people to vape because the side effects are still unknown. It’s still the early stages of vaping. They will see something affecting them in the future in 10 or 20 years, who knows?” he adds.

Like Abu Ali, he believes vape is better than cigarettes, because cigarettes “contain tar, not just nicotine”.

He says: “Nicotine is all you want to smoke. If you avoid tar and get nicotine, then vape is better, but I could change my mind if I found out more…”

Thank you for vaping

Despite the age restriction for vaping in Dubai, a student in the city tells Frankly she started vaping at 15 years old.

“There was no specific reason. I just started vaping for fun,” says Rita Abu Khalil.

“I tried to quit because it’s not healthy, but I’m not able to. I’m an addict now, and I don’t change my habits. It’s hard for me [because] I don’t feel that I have symptoms from it.

“[But] I don’t think vapes are better than cigarettes. I smoke cigarettes and I vape… Cigarettes are more for less stress and big problems, [while] vape is more for fun,” she says.

Another student, 19-year-old Leyyan Makkour, says she started vaping at 18 because “it was a trend all around me, and I said, why not?”

She adds: “It’s something I did try to quit and was able to [quit], but I don’t feel it’s that harmful.”