Wednesday, August 17, 2022

MSU students develop a product to help people quit vaping

October 6, 2021
<p>CAPNOS co-founders, Brendan Wang and Jake Roach, pose with the CAPNOS Zero. Photo courtesy of Wang.</p>

CAPNOS co-founders, Brendan Wang and Jake Roach, pose with the CAPNOS Zero. Photo courtesy of Wang.

Michigan State students who are struggling to quit vaping might be in luck.

According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, Electronic cigarettes, or E-cigarettes, also known as vaping devices, or "vapes," are "battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings, and other chemicals."

Supply chain management senior and CAPNOS co-founder and CEO Brendan Wang struggled with a vape addiction for five years. He began vaping his freshman year of high school. Wang was simply bandwagoning on an activity that all his surrounding peers participated in.

It wasn’t until his freshman year of college that he began to consider it an actual addiction. 

“It’s just something that I just did and didn’t really think too much about," Wang said. "I didn’t really have any intentions of stopping, but then when I became more conscious about it, I was like, ‘Am I able to stop?’"

By committing himself to better understanding his habit cycles and through research into behavioral psychology, Wang developed the idea for the CAPNOS Zero.

The CAPNOS Zero is a smokeless, chargeless and nicotine-free pressurized air inhaler designed to function as a behavioral aid. Every inhale feels like hitting a vape, yet it’s only hits of flavored air.

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Wang surveyed thousands of people who vape and discovered two out of three electronic cigarette users suffer from behavioral addictions rather than nicotine addictions. 

“We vape so often and develop a nicotine tolerance, so we’re no longer achieving that sense of satisfaction from each hit," Wang said. "At that point, it has evolved into an oral fixation, or behavioral addiction, where the addiction lies in the desire just to hit something.

There are products that address nicotine addiction, such as patches and even nicotine-free vapes. Yet, few products have been created to eliminate the smoke, combustion and nicotine — essentially, all the negative health consequences. 

CAPNOS, as a mission-based company, strives to prevent lung disease and save lives above all else. 

When CAPNOS was first in the works, in late 2019, news of sudden vaping-related deaths was everywhere. 

“It was dawning on me that this was a much, much bigger problem than I had really anticipated, and that it’s leading to people’s deaths," Wang said. "I want to prevent that and try to prevent more deaths from vaping and even smoking, which is still one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide.”

CAPNOS is interested in ending smoking but is focusing on vaping due to its prominence on college campuses. 

“We're first targeting the vaping epidemic just because it’s so close to a lot of college campuses and a lot of people that we’re personally close with,” finance senior and CAPNOS co-founder Jake Roach said.

In a survey administered by The State News to 33 MSU students, 94% of the students vape, 65% of students who vape would like to stop, and 80% of students who vape are concerned about the health effects.

“(CAPNOS Zero) is giving you that same satisfaction and (has) the same utility as what you're already doing, but it's not giving you the negative health consequences.” said Roach. “You're saving your health and probably adding some years back on your life.”

The CAPNOS Zero retails at $19.99 with a pack of two replacement caps selling for $9.99. 

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As Wang is passionate about sustainability, the product also seeks to offset waste — waste that is so common in the prevalent disposable vapes on campus.

The CAPNOS base is designed to last forever, and users should replace the caps every 3 to 4 weeks. Both the device and its packaging are recyclable. 

According to the CAPNOS website, the CAPNOS Zero has helped testers reduce their vaping by 50%, some managing to quit altogether. 

“A buddy of mine, who is part of a fraternity here at MSU, said that he carried the Zero in his front pocket and his vape in the back pocket, and during a social event, only hit the CAPNOS Zero," said Wang. “Our aim is to be able to replicate that with others, too, and to see that more people are able to kind of achieve that sense of balance."

The company is still in its early stages, completing its first launch in late September. However, Wang and Roach have high goals for its future. 

In December, the CAPNOS Zero will be available on Amazon as well as in more retail store locations. They will also be listed on the Quit Vaping app, which allows people who vape to track their hits and money spent on vapes. 

They hope to partner with health insurance providers to help provide more people with an affordable, accessible product and build plans with vape-quitting programs.

They also hope to increase the sustainability of the company by moving towards using biodegradable materials.

“Our customers, whom we do everything for, you know, they're our backbone for the company,” said Wang. “I just want to make sure that that's out there and that we're continuing to do our best to try and meet those expectations, or exceed them.”

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