Vaping, e cigarette and e liquid blog

An interview with ROK e cigarettes

18/02/2016 21:25  |  BLOG

Want to know more about ROK? Then check out our recent interview with ROK MD Greg Forster
Can you please introduce yourself.
Sure, I’m Greg – the founder and Managing Director here at ROK towers!
Who are the founding partners of the company?
Myself and my two business partners - Gerry and Steve. We have all been involved in successful businesses together in the past focussing on premium quality products, innovation and delighting customers.
What inspired you to get into the vaping industry and when do you first start off? Can you give me some background on your company as a whole?
I was (and still am) inspired by the fact that vaping is an exciting and dynamic new industry that continues to grow and evolve. It is clear that e cigarettes satisfy customer needs as a balanced alternative to smoking, but in the early days the market was underdeveloped. There was a glut of shoddy, unbranded products being sold on market stalls with no guarantees, questionable labelling & quality certifications and no after sales support.

We identified the gap at the premium end of the market for people wanting high performance and top quality products at an affordable price - all backed by excellent customer service from a trusted brand.

We launched ROK back in 2009 and are one of the longest established e cigarette brands, based in the UK. Our main ranges are liquid-refillable e cigarettes & accessories, e liquids and e cigars. We only sell online at www.rokuniversal.co.uk - which enables us to keep costs low and hence offer a premium quality product at a great price directly to our customers.
How and when did you discover e cigarettes for the first time?
It was on a trip to Cheltenham races. I saw someone vaping and they said ‘here have a try!’ That was it. The penny dropped and the rest is history.
Were you a smoker before you switched to vaping? If so, what made you decide to quit smoking?
Yes. The combination of the benefits of vaping & my wife’s suggestion that I kick the burnt tobacco option as I now had a balanced alternative in my e cig. As it required no will power I was on to a winner!
Why do you think electronic cigarettes are the most promising tool to help cigarette users quit completely or cut down on their intake?
As a responsible manufacturer we have to be careful here – we do not promote our products as tools to help smokers quit or cut down under UK legislation. As such we make no claims that our products are medical devices, Nicotine Replacement Therapy or will help you quit smoking.

We do however believe they offer a balanced alternative and people can see the results for themselves by viewing any of the independently produced research that is readily available. For example, recent research from Euromonitor International highlights that vaping sales are growing and already three times higher than that of the declining nicotine replacement patch and gum market.
Do you have a “favourite” flavour? What is your favorite category of e liquids for your personal vaping?
Great question – to be honest it changes from month to month. I’m mostly using Cuban Cigar right now – whilst I was never a regular cigar smoker the flavour is so rich and mellow – a perfect all day vape.

At the moment my favourite category would be our new range of dessert flavours – it’s great fun trying out new things, like key lime pie! Normally it would probably be our fruit and nut ranges – I usually have a couple of back up tanks with almond and blackcurrant on the go.
Where are you guys located and whats the attitude there regarding e-cigarettes?
We are all over the place! Our main HQ is in St Albans, but we have offices in London, fulfilment in Watford and manufacturing partners in the UK and China. Vaping is welcome at our locations of course.
Where do you see the industry in the next year, in the next five years?
Crystal ball time! Obviously it is difficult to predict, but there a few things we know;

The industry will become more highly regulated as measures such as the TPD come into force. We of course welcome any measures that protect customers and drive quality and safety – but not unnecessary red tape and over regulation that restricts the industry without any benefit.

I would like to believe that we will start to see more evidence-based research into the benefits of vaping compared to smoking. The recent Public Health England report highlighted e cigarettes as 95% less harmful than smoking. It would be great to see more information as scaremongering and sensationalist media in the UK is creating a negative public perception of the vaping industry which is far removed from reality.

In terms of products, we believe that users will continue to switch from the cig-a-like style starter disposable and cartomizer products commonly found in supermarkets to the pen style devices for a better vaping experience. We also believe that some of the ‘mod’ style products used by enthusiasts will start to find a place in the mainstream.
What makes you different from other brands out there?
ROK are a UK company and have been around from the start, with 7 years of experience under our belts. We are innovative and agile - not a side-line project or cash cow acquisition of a big tobacco company. We are passionate about e cigarettes & e liquids and that is all that we do.

As mentioned before we have a direct relationship with our customers as we sell directly through our website, not other channels. This enables better customer communication & understanding whilst also allowing us to provide low prices for premium quality products.

We also offer expert UK-based customer services available by phone or email and always respond in less than a day.

In terms of our e liquids we only use the best EU sourced ingredients and everything is produced here in the UK for quality – unlike some other big brands we could mention!
Why should our readers buy products from you?
We pride ourselves on delivering premium quality, smooth authentic taste & great value. Our UK-based customer service team are also on hand to help whenever it is needed.

We have a proven track record over the last 7 years, and all genuine customers are invited to review us independently with eKomi – we currently have a 99.36% positive rating from over 1,400 reviews.

We offer a range of delivery options including free delivery, priority and international and all orders placed before 2:30pm leave our warehouse on the same day. All of our customers are also automatically enrolled into our ROK Rewards scheme and qualify for cash discounts every time they shop with us.

Finally you can be sure that we deliver sector compliance and our products are tried and tested with all of the correct measures in place – reflected in the very low returns rates we have.
Where can we find you?
You can find our main website and store at www.rokuniversal.co.uk. On social media just search ROKuniversalUK on Facebook, for Twitter it’s @ROKuniversalUK or check out some of our videos at www.youtube.com/ROKecigarette.
When you launched your company how did you decide on your first flavours?
That’s simple! You have to remember we were here from the start, so there were no e liquids available to buy in bottles – everything was cartomiser-based and lookalike cigarettes. We started with tobacco and menthol and grew from there.
How would you describe your signature flavours?
For us it’s just all about the quality! Sure, our flavours are best described as having a smooth, authentic taste – and people always find the flavours that they love. But the signature for us is using the top quality pharmaceutical grade nicotine prepared in the UK with the highest quality food grade natural and nature identical flavourings, all sourced from within the EU.
How are your e liquids packaged?
All of our e liquids are supplied in secure 10ml bottles with child proof lids. Each bottle features a direct dispense nozzle for easy filling of your e liquid chambers - a long and thin design for accuracy & speed. The labelling is fully CHIP and CLP complaint regarding hazardous information & warnings.
There is a lot of concern these days about how and where e liquids are being made. Where do you do your mixing, bottling, and shipping?
No need for concern here. That’s simple – the UK, the UK and the UK!
How do you make sure your mixing tools and containers are kept clean and sterile?
We have a documented cleaning procedure for all our mixing apparatus that are used and stored in our controlled environment, which is also sterilised with anti-microorganism (anti-bacterial, - viral, and – fungal) sprays and floor cleaner. To safeguard against cross-contamination, all work surfaces are fully cleaned between each product manufacturing process.

On top of this we have moved into a controlled ISO 14644 Class 8 clean room environment, which includes air filtration and certified levels of cleanliness.
Safety is also a huge factor today. What kind of measures do you take to make sure that your e juice is safe to consume?
We only use food grade flavourings and the highest quality ingredients possible - Pharmaceutical (USP/EP) grade nicotine, PG and VG; all of which have certificates of analysis.

We independently test our flavour concentrates and have certificated proof that they are free from diacetyl and acetyl propionyl.

We are installing our own GC-MS testing machine which will enable us to test for a given chemical. We closely follow the scientific literature for new developments and act on this information. Should a new chemical become ‘blacklisted’, we will be able to act swiftly to test all of our products without the cost and time restraints faced when using an independent lab and we will reformulate our products accordingly.

All of our products are batch recorded and thus we know exactly which ingredient batches went into each and every one of our own batches. In the unlikely event that there should there ever be an issue with one of our products, our batch system would enable us to recall every bottle.
What assurances do you have to make sure the nicotine levels in your individual bottles of e liquid are what they are supposed to be?
Each batch of our 72mg/ml nicotine stock solution is titrated before it is cleared for use in our products. This stock solution is then used in recipes that are automatically calculated by formulae and followed by highly trained and competent lab staff using the laboratory measuring equipment.
Do you have a specific audience in mind for your e liquids? In other words, are your e juices best used with cartomizers, tanks, and clearomizers? Are they blended for dripping, or subohm coils?
Sure – our ROK Brittania range is ideal for tanks and clearomizers. Our main audience is users of our ROK Legend e cigarette - a pen style liquid-refillable device with a replaceable tankomizer - perfect for ‘dripping’.
What is the PG/VG Ratio of your e liquids?
How do you make sure that your flavours are always consistent, that each batch or bottle delivers the same flavour time after time?
We use high quality raw material suppliers that have proven that they can provide us with consistent, high quality batches of ingredient. We carry out visual and smell checks on every batch, to safeguard against the unlikely chance of the incorrect ingredient being supplied or used.

Each finished product is stored in a cool, dark room to minimise the rate of chemical change and we monitor our stock levels, ensuring that ageing stock is removed from the shelves.
Does nicotine levels affect the flavour of your e liquids?
No – it does not make a difference.
What makes a good e liquid? In other words, what order of importance are flavour, vapour, and throat hit in your e liquids?
Honestly, I think it is a combination of all of the above. For us it’s always about making a ‘great’ e liquid – and that starts with quality and safety. Hence we use only the best EU-sourced ingredients and make everything here in the UK.

Next would be flavour - if any of our thirty flavours are not right then our customers would not keep coming back for more and we continuously review the ranges every month.

The hit and vapour production are more of an underlying requirement and a function of the raw e liquid, device, and individual vaping style. To use your terminology, I think we have got that ‘signature’ just right.

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