Nothing alerts the world that you’re smoking marijuana like the smell. Even in a more accepting cannabis climate, there are times when being a toker can get you in trouble — in a college dorm, at home around the in-laws, on a break at work, or even on vacation when you’re forced to blow smoke into the bathroom vent of your hotel room. The most common solution is a sploof — a makeshift muffler typically made from stuffing scented dryer sheets into an empty toilet paper tube.
Greg Gorski remembers doing just that. It was okay for a teenager, but as an adult, he wanted something that functioned more effectively and looked like an actual device rather than something you’d pulled out of the waste basket. He dubbed his invention the Smokebuddy, a convenient device for smokers and nonsmokers alike. The personal air filter spares others — and the environment — from clouds of smoke and the harmful particles in them.
The simplicity of the design is what makes Smokebuddy so brilliant. Users blow smoke directly through one end and odorless air comes out the other thanks to an Activated Carbon core combined with Ceramic Bead technology. There are no batteries or filters to replace, no apps to download, no assembly required.
The Smokebuddy itself comes in a variety of colors and designs, with three sizes: a pocketable small unit (the Junior) about the size of a pack of playing cards (yes, it’s flat like a flask), the Original (and most popular) which has a cylindrical pop can shape with easy grip, tapered top, and the MEGA that has the same flattened design as the Junior, but is twice its size and good for up to 600 uses.
“It’s a good product, done right at the right time,” Gorski says.
“We’re always looking at ways to improve it. It’s stuff that the user would never know because it’s all inside. We’re always playing with the filter material to ensure it works the best and lasts as long as possible,” Gorski adds. “We’ve never been interested in making the product cheaper — the goal is to make the product better.”
Customers can choose from an array of colors and themes, including tie-die, glow in the dark, woodgrain, camo and even a version shaped like a grenade complete with decorative safety pin and lever (perfect for active duty, veterans and military buffs alike). Each unit comes with a keychain featuring a smiling, articulated mascot named Buddy — credit for this sought-after bonus goes to Gorski, who previously worked in advertising and promotional marketing. That experience also taught him the importance of creative packaging, and therefor prompted him to put the Smokebuddy in a clear package with eye-catching graphics that makes it instantly recognizable and a best-selling point of purchase product for retailers.
The most recent buzz is around the Smokebuddy Eco made from recyclable, biodegradable and compostable wheat-based plastic.
“We can’t do anything about what the customer ends up doing with their Smokebuddy after it is expired — what we can do is control the manufacturing side and use materials that are more eco-friendly in the production side,” Gorski says.
A humble Gorski is reluctant to disclose how many Smokebuddys have been sold since the brand was founded in 2008. Just know they’ve become a smoke shop staple and have more than 40K followers on Instagram.
Smokebuddy even made the news in Southern California where the company is headquartered. Gorski happened to be watching a breaking report of the Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles, when he spotted a Smokebuddy in a smoke shop that had been looted.
“They showed video from the shop’s surveillance cameras — the window was smashed, and 50 kids pour into the smoke shop, stealing everything inside. I was waiting to see somebody grab Smokebuddy and run out the door with it,” Gorski says. “When the news switches back to a live shot from inside the shop, I look above the reporter’s shoulder, and the only thing the looters hadn’t stolen was one Smokebuddy way up on the top shelf.”
“Of course, you know, my heart goes out to the owner of the smoke shop. I know he’s a small business and that’s his whole life,” Gorski continues. “I packed up one of every Smokebuddy that we have, plus shirts, stickers and other promo items and personally drove them to the shop. I also brought a check for $500, with which I was going to buy that remaining Smokebuddy — and they’d already sold it, so I gave them the money anyway to help them get back on their feet.”
“Ten years ago, when we got started, I had no idea that Smokebuddy would become as popular as it has,” Gorski says. “Because we’ve become the leader in this space, our job now is to continue creating quality products at a fair price that are new and exciting and that keep people talking.”