ASTORIA — A new e-cigarette shop in Astoria is looking to draw the neigborhood into the vaping craze.
City Vape opened earlier this month at 31-88 37th St. and is the first dedicated "vape shop" in Astoria, according to owner Spiro Dongaris.
Dongaris, who lives in the neighborhood, said he was inspired to open the shop after he recently got into vaping, which he credits with helping him kick a years-long smoking habit.
"I was smoking for 17 years," he said. "I replaced cigarettes with vaping about eight months ago, and I haven't looked back since."
E-cigarette devices, which use an electric heating element to turn a liquid solution into vapor that users inhale, have been controversial.
The City Council voted in December to ban vaping in parks, bars and other public places where regular cigarettes are prohibited, saying e-cigarettes haven't been approved as a smoking cessation device, are unregulated by the FDA and commonly contain highly-addictive nicotine.
But Dongaris said he sees vaping as a healthier alternative for traditional smokers because the vapor contains fewer harmful chemicals, and it also doesn't produce the same smell as burned tobacco.
"The amount of vapers is increasing," he said. "People want to get away from cigarettes."
City Vape sells an array of e-cigarette devices and accessories, and Dongaris said he's happy to answer customers' questions and guide them through the purchasing process.
Vaping starter kits, which typically contain a battery, tank, charger and case, run for about $30 to $60. The store also sells two dozen vapor flavors, like strawberry, cafe mocha and vanilla dream.
Dongaris said he's also planning to launch a website in the future and plans to eventually sell his products online.
City Vape is located at 31-88 37th St. in Astoria. Current hours are 12 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 12 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.