CROWN HEIGHTS — The city may be stamping out e-cigarettes elsewhere, but you can still catch a light in Crown Heights.
MoVapes Brooklyn Electronic Cigarette Store and Lounge, a new e-cigarette shop at 1413 Bedford Ave. between Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue, is opening up a haven for e-cigarette users who want to stock up or smoke indoors. The lounge opened on the heels of the City Council passing a bill earlier this month banning the use of the popular vapor-producing devices in restaurants and bars, among other public places.
"We wanted a space that’s a safe haven for vapers, especially in the wake of the new legislation that’s created an exodus of vaping into the cold winter weather. We’re going to be one of the only establishments where you can still vape inside," said manager Matt Levinson, who said vaping helped him quit nicotine entirely after a decade as a heavy smoker.
Unlike their tar-based counterparts, e-cigarettes use an electric heating element to vaporize a liquid mixture commonly composed of glycerin, propylene glycol, flavorings and nicotine that can then be inhaled in the same way as cigarette smoke. Though they aren't approved as smoking cessation devices, Levinson said many customers turn to e-cigarettes hoping to replace their longtime habit with something with that seems safer.
The store is owned by Dr. Sathish Modugu, a New York State licensed physician with a practice in Hartsdale, N.Y.. Modugu did not immediately return emails for comment.
MoVapes specializes in a range of e-cigarettes and e-pipes, with flavors that run the gamut from cherry cola to Camel, Marlboro to hot buttered rum.
"All the politicians make it seem like it’s something all the young people are doing, but I don’t see it," Levinson said. "We have a very diverse customer base. Not that many young people."
Steven Guzman, 37, left behind a pack-a-day habit and now comes into the store once or twice a week to refill his iTaste e-cigarette. He hopes to soon switch to vaporizing only nicotine-free flavored glycerin.
"I started smoking when I was 15 years old. It stinks so much, my wife said, 'you have to stop'," Guzman said. "I have two kids that are asthmatic, and [the e-cigarette] doesn’t bother them. I do it in the house, but the smoke goes quick, it doesn’t stay a long time."
Levinson said the store is already turning a brisk business in advance of its grand opening this January, adding that up to 80 percent of its first-time customers come back.
"It’s still going to be nice to have people vaping here. And of course, I don’t want to be fined for vaping in my own store."