Where there is no smoke, there are vaporizers.
A new haven for electronic cigarette smokers and enthusiasts of vaporizers, a device once reserved for odorless marijuana toking that has now become popular for nicotine hobbyists, opened on Feb. 7 in Crown Heights. Dedicated addicts of the tobacco-derived chemical turned out in droves for the opening.
“Finally we have a nice vape shop here in New York,” said Dmitriy Katev, who traveled all the way from Staten Island for the occasion.
MoVape, located on Bedford Avenue between Saint Marks Avenue and Prospect Place, sells middle- to high-end vaporizing gear, focusing on enthusiasts rather than casual users. The merchandise is more elaborate and expensive than the electronic cigarettes sold in many convenience stores.
“They’re beautifully made and professionally machined,” said Adam Schwartz, the store manager. “We attract only the most zealot types of users.”
The kits range in price from $30 to $500. Each vaporizing machine has three basic parts: a battery pack, an atomizer, and a mouth piece. The atomizer has a small tank that the user fills with a liquid nicotine solution, called the “juice.” The machine heats up the liquid, turning it to vapor.
The devices come in all shapes and sizes. Some resemble traditional cigarettes; others look more like shiny chrome engine parts. And “vapers” often experiment with different equipment, tweaking the components and customizing machines to find the right combination of temperature and air flow. They call the process “finding your vape.”
“It’s very much a hobby for people now,” said MoVape’s owner Sathish Modugu. “There’s a definitely a camaraderie around it.”
The store sells about 100 different varieties of liquid-nicotine solutions that come in flavors including Camel (the cigarette brand, not the animal), mint, and apple cider. The only kind missing is Fruity Pebbles.
The primary ingredient in the process is propylene glycol, a chemical used in some fog machines. There has not been a definitive study on the long-term effects of vaporizing nicotine, and opponents have rung alarm bells about the e-cigarette industry so far escaping most forms of government regulation. This means the liquid used to fill the smokeless stogies is not inspected by the Food and Drug Administration and the boxes do not have to list the ingredients that deliver the addictive punch.
“Clearly, there needs to be regulations, but not unreasonable regulations,” said Modugu, who is a medical doctor and runs a pain management practice in Westchester County.
Modugu is a smoker turned vaper and pitches the technology as a way to quit cigarettes. Users often step down the nicotine content of the liquid refills over time and eventually switch to a solution that is nicotine-free, he claimed.
“I enjoy the act of smoking,” said Oleg Zalman, who came from Sea Gate to purchase his first vaporizing machine — an Innokin iTaste MVP for $65. “If there’s a safer way to do it, why not?”
Recent city legislation banned the smoking of electronic cigarettes in most public places. But customers at MoVape are free to sample products and use their personal devices in the store because the business is primarily a nicotine dispensary and falls under the same rules that allow smoking cigars at cigar lounges.
The owner hopes to start serving coffee in the next month and has also applied for a liquor license.