Brooklyn Gets a Vaping Lounge
New York's e-cigarette users won't have to go all the way into Manhattan to enjoy a vaping lounge any more.
A new one has opened up in the Crown Heights district of the borough of Brooklyn. In fact, the proliferation of vaping lounges is an important development in this period of rapid change on the e-cig front. They are popping up all over, so rapidly it's hard to keep track. This could be a movement! More accurately, it is part of another larger movement that has already been taking place: the growth of the vaping community as a social and political force. Thanks are due to ex-mayor Bloomberg, Stanton Glantz, Mitch Zeller, and and their anti-vaping cohorts for making it all happen.
Vaping lounges are places where e-cigarette users can meet to have a vape, meet with like-minded people, buy all sorts of personal vaporizers, mods, and liquids (all the sorts the nannies will allow at the moment, anyway), and increasingly, plan political opposition to anti-vaping regulators. Typically they do not serve alcohol or permit cigarette smoking.
The MoVapes Brooklyn Electronic Cigarette Store and Lounge has already been open as a shop for a while, but is having a grand opening as a lounge in these early days of January, 2014. One customer, an ex smoker (1 pack/day) who hopes to taper off to nicotine-free liquid, has already been coming a couple of times a week for refills. "I started smoking when I was 15 years old," he says. "It stinks so much, my wife said, 'you have to stop'. I have two kids that are asthmatic, and [the e-cig] doesn’t bother them. I do it in the house, but the smoke [sic] goes quick, it doesn’t stay a long time." (He means vapor, of course.)
"We’re going to be one of the only establishments where you can still vape inside," says Matt Levinson, the MoVapes manager, also a former heavy smoker who is now nicotine free. The establishment is owned by a physician, which is an interesting commentary on health issues related to e-cigarette use. "We have a very diverse customer base" says Levinson. "Not that many young people," commenting on the charge that e-cigs will hook youths on nicotine. In case you just arrived from a distant planet, public use of e-cigarettes has just been banned in key American localities, most notably Oklahoma and New York City, and users, many of whom rely on the product to help them quit smoking toxic cigarettes, are up in arms about it. Defiant acts of civil disobedience (marred, alas, by the use of toxic cigarettes as well as harmless e-cigs) have taken place in both of those locations, and political activism on the issue has been flourishing, what with the appearance of local groups like New Yorkers for Smarter Smoking Alternatives (NYSSA), adding their voices to the already vigorous voice of the group Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA).
Vaping lounges can be relaxed and funky, like Manhattan's Henley Vaporium, or they can be energized dance-floors, like Oklahoma City's Community Bar and Vape Lounge, and the types are certain to become more varied as they continue to pop up all over the place. Many of them began as vape shops that opened up a lounge area where customers can relax with their vaporizers. Increasingly, the lounge aspect comes to overshadow the shop, and the vaping lounge becomes a wholly new kind of recreational watering spot. If there isn't a vaping lounge yet in your town, wait a week or so and then keyword-search it again. Bet you'll find one! Or better yet, talk to your vape shop honchos about dedicating a corner of the shop to a lounging area. The vaping lounge is poised to become not only a new kind of "speak-easy", but also an important center of political activism, as would-be governmental nannies try ever harder to narrow the options of people who are trying to quit smoking.