Sabrina Rai is an endlessly inspiring woman and shining light in the vape community. A devoted mom of five from Lynchburg, Virginia, Sabrina is currently undergoing treatment for cancer; nonetheless, her Instagram page overflows with positivity, offering a unique perspective about vaping and a strong voice in support of this industry.
HERSTORY: Were you formerly a smoker? How and when did you discover vaping? Can you tell us more about why vaping is such a central part of your life?
S: I started smoking when I was 14 years old and stopped on and off… by my early twenties I had basically become a “social smoker” while out drinking or with friends. I completely stopped even being around smoke when I found out I had asthma that was triggered by cigarette smoke. Last summer I was dealing with a lot of stress between health and work and children, and a friend of mine introduced me to vaping as a coping mechanism after he used it for the same purpose, avoiding the anxiety medicine doctors had recommended. I started with a low dose of nicotine to just simply take the edge off. I’ve modeled for years and decided that maybe this hobby was something that could also increase my workload and allow me to express myself through Instagram. The community is tight and supportive, and I believe that the way I project myself—as warm, open, knowledgeable and always learning—is beneficial to others.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY: In your own experience, how has the actual act of vaping complemented your recovery efforts? A study from the Mayo Clinic has indicated that vaping may mitigate complications that result from smoking cigarettes before and after medical procedures—specifically, surgery. Do you feel this finding could apply to cancer treatment? What has been the response of your doctors to vaping throughout your treatment?
S: Vaping has been my source of stress relief. It allows me to take deep breaths and enjoy a new flavor or focus on a little “o” practice. My cancer was caught early and treated well with surgery. I shaved my head in preparation for radiation treatment but even that has currently been put on hold due to insurance complications. My doctors understand my hesitation about using pharmaceuticals and appreciate that I research juice lines and prefer organic lines over others… I am cautious and appreciate having juice lines that help me feel better; I think lines like Vape organics and Elixir Vape Co give vaping a good name in the medical field.
IN COMMUNITY WE TRUST: What role does the vape community play in your life? How are you supported by this community during rough times? What’s most special to you about this community?
S: I see on a daily basis all different “strains” of the vaping community and I feel it all fits to individual preference. I have been told I’ll never make it as a “vape model” because I choose to not be as “revealing” as others. This is my preference and I have my following because of it. I have made what I feel are long-lasting friendships. I have been supported daily by a few close women who message me, always encouraging me when I have a rough day. I do the same for them. I have people all over the country that have said “I lost a family member” or “I am a survivor” or “I am a fighter;” these comments encourage me and reflect to me that what I’m doing is right. I appreciate the genuine people that don’t let 12k followers stop them from responding or answering questions. This community has its dark corners, overly loud and egotistical aspects but if you set yourself aside from the glitter and glamour you see just everyday life… real people and real artists and a community that allows us all to express ourselves and connect outside of a mundane daily life.
TAKE A STAND: Our community obviously faces an uncertain future. Which advocacy efforts resonate with you and inspire hope on a personal level? Do you have any visions for what else we can do as a community to overcome the challenges we face?
S: I understand we have deeming regulations which we have little control over, but I truly feel our community can make the situation better by taking more action and being serious in raising awareness, rather than focusing on perfecting their tricks, or how big they are, or how sexy this chick looks with a mod put here or there. I get it, it’s fun, it’s sexy, but with the amount of time those guys and girls took to do all those vape tricks, I wonder if they took the time to write an email to their local delegate or senator.
I take cute, sexy photos and I play with edits and I love trying new tricks just as much… but I personally know that advocating locally is the only way we can make a difference nationally. I am part of the advocacy team for the Virginia hemophilia foundation; my son, my brother and my late uncle are hemophiliacs. We come together as a very small community and we advocate both locally and nationally. It makes a difference when we educate others on things they do not know. We expect adults not to make assumptions but if we give forth the information before they even have to ask questions it leaves no room for quick and uneducated assumptions of any kind.
GOT KIDS?: How do your children view vaping? We hear so many attacks on vaping because certain companies have packaging which some people claim appeals to children, and a few cases of products without child-resistant packaging causing nicotine poisoning amongst kids. Do you have to fend your kids off your vape? Are there any precautions you feel parents who vape should take around their children?
S: Well, I have five children and my oldest four know what it is. I answer all their questions. They have asked to use it before and I always make it very clear that just like the tattoos mommy chooses to get, you have to be 18. My oldest is 12 and she occasionally says it’s bad because someone else told her it was bad, but we talk and I express that she is always welcome to her own opinion, as is everyone else. My kids love the smell of vaping. They play and pretend sometimes they can catch my clouds, or put fingers through the “o”s. With my youngest, who is two, I have had to make sure I keep everything out of his reach. He sees mommy do it and that smart little guy has on occasion almost gotten the mod! So my advice is: if you aren’t using it, turn it off and put it out of reach! Put all bottles out of reach and not in the general living space. All of my hardware and bottles are kept in my room and I have a baby proof doorknob cover.
Regarding the marketing, my biggest question has been: “Where is the creativity? The art?” Why are we copying the label of candy or drinks or cereal? I’m not knocking these lines, but I am saying it will be a lot easier as a community if we keep on with high quality products that show creativity. I love creative marketing; I love companies that not only have a good quality juice line but put thought into the future of our community and the rights of other companies that have developed those pictures or used that marketing on their cereal or candy for years and years. As an artist myself, I would be upset if someone took something I made and worked hard at, and with a few minor changes slapped my design on a completely different product. I understand that these said companies might be mad at me but business is not easy and I do not believe in cutting corners… I believe that if you can’t think of the idea you need to hire someone who can and I guarantee it will make a difference in this community. Still, I do not believe it’s marketing to kids just because it’s the same style of labeling. I say: lets show this nation, this world… what kind of artists and innovators we are, that we do not need to “copy cat” labels in order to market our product better. Quality over quantity… isn’t that what the old timers say?
HANDCHECK: What is your favorite set-up? What do you look for most in hardware? In e-liquids?
S: Ah, hard question! I love my Sigelei mods. Over all, Sigelei has demonstrated high quality and sturdy products in my personal experience. I have tried a few others, but I only own the Sigelei Fuchai and the Snow Wolf Mini. The Snow Wolf Mini is small and portable but if you run the full 75 watts all day it doesn’t last as long because it’s a single 18650 battery. The Fuchai has a dual battery and I usually run it at 85-90 watts with tanks and 100 watts with an RDA. The Twisted Messes is my favorite RDA so far, as well as the 2puffs. I have a Troll and have used a couple others. I like the Smok TFV4 tank with the .15 coil. I look for products that offer good flavor and cloud production over all. In juices, I look for flavor and quality. I hate harsh nicotine or throat hits. I get that some do want that but I need good flavor and a smooth all day vape.
LIFE LESSONS: You have been through so much, yet you are smiling and positive in almost all of your posts. What are the biggest lessons this journey has taught you? Which values are you most passionate about passing on to your children?
S: This question is funny because I suppose I don’t realize the kind of presentation I give through my posts. I do try to be positive and uplifting every day. There are days when I am smiling amidst tears of frustration and piled bills and sick babies. I have always believed life gives us no more than we can handle. I was dealt this hand and I will live it as best as I can with as much joy and laughter as I can. There is nothing I love more than laughing. My children may not have the nicest clothes and my truck is currently in need of a new motor… things are difficult daily but I cherish every moment with them and I strive to make their childhood greater than my own. It’s not extravagant, but I do sit on the floor and play with them, we go on adventures to the park and I love to cook. So, when my kids are home my house is full and my heart is always overflowing.
I wasn’t as close to my older sister as I should have been and the last year of her life we became closer but she was gone very quickly and my brother and I are currently very close… he also vapes, by the way. My own experience with my siblings has inspired me to teach my children to defend one another and stay close even through differences… that it’s always right to forgive but to not be a push-over.
My children are all artistic and I just hope they know I will always support their dreams and allow them to be whomever they choose to be. My children are my world and nothing can keep me from them. They are my reason to never give up and always stand to fight.
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The Inspiration Series:
- Inspiration Series, Part I – MARIA
- Inspiration Series, Part II – WORLDWIDE VAPERS
- Inspiration Series, Part III – RELIK TRIBE
- Inspiration Series, Part IV – BMI ROSE
- Inspiration Series, Part V – DREW
- Inspiration Series, Part VI – AARON BIEBERT
- Inspiration Series, Part VII – AMY JEANETTE
- Inspiration Series, Part VIII – DANIEL WALSH
- Inspiration Series, Part IX – SABRINA
- Inspiration Series Continued HERE