Tony Brittan, or Tony B as he’s known online, is one of the modern godfathers of the vaping industry. He has his hands in almost every part of the industry — he runs a popular YouTube channel called the Vapor Trail, which has 162,000 subscribers. When he’s not reviewing mods on his channel, he’s designing mods for Vandy Vape or advocating for the industry. We sat down with Tony and asked him a few questions regarding his journey with vaping, his favorite convention moments, and much more.
Q: What motivated you to start your vaping journey?
A: I smoked since I was in the 5th grade! My whole family smoked, and there were always cartons of cigarettes in the freezer in the garage. So, when Mom found out I was smoking, she…I guess you could say, she just “let me”.
When I got into high school, in Poway/Penasquitos (San Diego area), they had smoking sections. If your parents signed a smoking pass, you could smoke in school. Naturally, Mom signed my smoking pass, and I was a school smoker. Flash forward to adulthood, and many years of smoking Marlboro Reds…sometimes 2-3 packs a day, I had tried quitting with hypnotism, patches, gums, pills, you name it. I even quit cold turkey for about a year! But I always ended up back to smoking.
In July of 2013, my Mom gave me a crappy Ego pen and a Vivi Nova Mini with some good berry flavored juice (Villain Vapors - Bonnie & Clyde). And you know what? It worked! After 2 weeks, I was completely off of the cigarettes. I haven’t smoked since.
I started my channel because…well, we all go to YouTube to figure out how to use things these days, and that’s what I did. Either the video was too long (45 minutes for something they could’ve shown me in 5 minutes), or there was a lot of cursing and such. I knew that there was a place for a channel that kept things short, and to the point, and kept it “clean”. Having worked in radio for 16+ years as a Program Director and on-air personality, I had all the tools for that part. I currently run a photo/video/ voiceover biz here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, so I had that too! The channel took off in short order, and here I am today.
Q: You’re all over the place in the industry! What are some of the things you’re working on right now?
A: I’m always working on something. I get approached by manufacturers all the time to collaborate with them, and I’ve turned more down than I can count. If I don’t like the direction they’re going, or don’t think that it will benefit the end user, I just don’t do it. I hate to leave money on the table, but it’s not just about making money. It’s about making products that people will want and are useful. I am currently looking into producing my line of e-juice (Sugar Lips) in the UK for all of Europe, which is something people over there have been asking for some time.
I’m also working on hardware with Vandy Vape…something different than the squonk stuff that I think people will really like! Especially if they live in a coastal area, or work around water. Can’t say much more than that. I’m also currently collaborating with Artery Vapor for the Pal 2, and we might do a Pal 2 Pro version if things go well. I have some other irons in the fire with other manufacturers, and we’ll see if they come to fruition.
Q: Do you have any advocacy measures that you’re working on right now?
A: I do my part to keep people informed on what’s going on with advocacy, and I’ve been working with Aaron Biebert on the new documentary they’re producing called You Don’t know Nicotine. Looks to be a great movie that will dispel the myths on things like “nicotine causes cancer” (nope), “nicotine doesn’t have any legitimate health uses” (it’s used in many therapy situations in the medical community), and more. I think this will be very enlightening. I might even make an appearance in the film, but we’ll see. I do try to stay on top of the news with it, but I also live in a remote part of North Carolina, so I’m pretty far from the “fight” in most cases.
Q: What do you think the industry needs more of, pertaining to advocacy?
A: That’s a tough one. I think we need to work on the public image of vaping and vapers in general. Let people know that we aren’t some gross bunch of smokers and that we’re people from all walks of life. We also need to keep letting our legislators know that we vote, and this is important to us. We need to learn everything we can about what the opposition is saying so that we can be educated. We need to provide clear and non-argumentative information to people who are misinformed. It’s important that each of us educate others who have been poisoned by the media and think, “it’s the same thing as smoking, if not worse,” but we should do it in a calm and kind way. Yelling at people never works!
Q: How have vape personalities impacted advocacy in the past few years and how would you suggest they take that to the next level? If there anything that consumers can help out with that they do not know about?
A: I do think that certain vape personalities, like Grimm Green and Dimitris (The Vaping Greek), are very active and educated on advocacy. They’re getting that info out there for “the people” so that we can give that information to others, and that’s awesome!
Consumers need to educate themselves so that they can be calm and collected when confronted with people who are misinformed. And any time we can vote, or put pressure on the powers that be, we need to do that!
Q: What’s your best convention/expo memory?
A: There are so many! When I go to a show, I want to meet people that support me! So never feel like you can’t approach me. Heck, it’s happened in places like the airport these days, and I don’t mind it one bit. Want a pic with me? Sure! Want me to sign your mod? Sure! Just wanna chat? Sure!
Here’s one: I was at an expo in London, and hanging out with some other vape personalities (I’ll leave out names to protect the innocent), and we were invited to go up to the room of a French company. We went up there, and after we knocked on the door, it swung open and there was a French dude who was totally naked. He was swinging his…um… manhood back and forth and laughing. When they saw our horrified faces, they all started laughing and said, “oh, sorry guys this is just how the French welcome people to a party!” He got dressed, and we stayed. It was actually a fun party!
Q: What is your favorite flavor profile?
A: I’m big into cereal flavors. Stuff that is milky and savory. That’s for my standard liquids. For nic salts, I really like fruity flavors. Mango and other fruits.
Q: What is your biggest vaping pet peeve?
A: Drama! I hate that we can’t all just get along sometimes. I hate that some people just want to stir crap up, point fingers at others, make accusations that they don’t know are true and, in most cases, are not, and cause strife for others. I just don’t think there’s a place for it in our community. We already fight enough for our vaping rights, and we don’t need to fight each other!
Q: What trends do you see becoming more popular in the next few months/years?
A: Nic salts and pod mods are huge right now, and as much as I didn’t like them at first, I’m finding that I really like using them for a lot of situations. Sometimes I just don’t have time to sit and chain-vape my sub-ohm system, and sometimes it’s not feasible to blow big clouds.
The Artery Pal 2 I developed with Artery Vapor is a great little device. On one charge, and one fill of the “tank” (or pod), I can go 3 days! Well, that’s using it in tandem with my squonk or whatever device I’m using. But I find myself reaching for the pod mod with salt nic more and more.
I think squonking still has some life in it, and it’s still my favorite way to vape. I also think that the industry is a little stale with the hardware side of things. I’d like to see more innovation and cool devices. Either way though,the important thing is that we’re all not smoking cigarettes.
Q: If you could address the vaping industry as a whole, what would you say?
A: Wow…that’s a wide open question! I would say, keep fighting, keep educating others, and, most off all, stay off the cigarettes. And thank you for all of your support through the years for myself and the Vapor Trail Channel. Let’s all work together, instead of fighting within the community, and keep the drama for your mama.
Q: A penguin walks through the door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
A: How about this: A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel attached to his crotch. He orders a drink and the bartender asks, “what’s with the steering wheel attached to your crotch?” The Pirate says “arg…it’s drivin’ me nuts.” So, the penguin walks through the door and says, “Tony B knows his stuff…you should buy everything he works on.” He’s wearing a sombrero because he and I have been having shots of tequila all day, and he’s there to tell you that he can’t keep up with me on the shots but loves my projects. :-)
May 13th 2019