Sai escapes Saddam to start new e-cigarette business in Shrewsbury

ELECTRONIC cigarettes have turned life around for Saiwan Elchikhani – an Iraqi Kurd who escaped Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and has now started a new life and a new business in Shrewsbury.

After 12 years of heavy smoking, the 30-year-old has quit tobacco for the electronic cigarette.

And Shropshire now has its first shop dedicated to the e-cigarette which offers no tar, no carbon monoxide, no ammonia, no smells, no ash and no second-hand smoke dangers.

Vapes has just opened in Pride Hill Shopping Centre at Shrewsbury, dedicated to selling high quality UK-made Vapestick electronic cigarettes.

“I had been smoking for over 12 years, about 20-30 a day but I stopped last September because of the electronic cigarette, it worked for me and I have tried everything.

“I love smoking and I hate smoking at the same time,” said Sai. “It was not healthy and it affected the people around me. I saw electronic cigarettes and thought I would try it. I tried disposable at first and it did not work but when I tried the Vapestick I loved it and if it worked for me it will work for most people.”

Sai, who lives at Four Crosses, came to the UK in 2002 to escape Saddam Hussein’s war against the Kurds.

His father was a smoker and he started at about 18. Most people he knew smoked and tobacco was cheap.

“Smoking is an addiction. Even people who have given up for years, have a good meal and still feel like a cigarette. Some people will never give up.

“But the electronic cigarette is encouraging and I see it as the future. If you try this and it works why smoke something which is harmful?

“My idea in opening the shop was to make it easier for people to deal face to face with someone who is selling the product and believes in it. They can come in and sample the product, see if they like it.

“It is also a British product. I have worked at all sorts of things, in factories, fork lift truck driver, customer services, but I think this product is great and that is why I am starting my first business.”

Kevin Lockwood, Manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, said: “We are always pleased to welcome new businesses to Shrewsbury, especially something that is as innovative as Sai’s.

“It’s another first for the shopping centres and we hope it will help a lot more people kick the habit.”

Sai, who will be open seven days a week, sells e-cigarettes ranging from £8 disposables to the highest quality at £59.99 but says when you consider your tobacco addiction could be costing around £10 a day, the e-cigarette would pay for itself in four or five days.

Vapestick electronic cigarettes produce a water-based vapour that can come with, or without, nicotine to give the same smoking sensation as with tobacco smoke.

Sai’s partner Becky Malloy said e-cigarettes can be viewed as an aid to giving up smoking or for those who want to continue smoking in a more sociable way.

At present they can be used in pubs – where normal tobacco cigarettes are banned. Becky, whose family run a hotel near Welshpool, said: “We always recommend that if you plan to use an e-cigarette in a pub you should first have a word with whoever is in charge to let them know because a lot of people do not know or understand e-cigarettes.”

Smoking an electronic cigarette has become known as vaping and Vapestick is a founding board member of ECITA – the UK’s Trade Association for the Electronic Cigarettes Industry.

Electronic cigarettes were introduced to the market nearly seven years ago and were available only in China at first before the e-cigarette’s inventor brought them to Europe and North America.

A comprehensive website explaining the e-cigarette technology can be found at

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