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Electronic ‘smoke’ shop open in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — Main Street is now home to Gourmet Vapor Electronic Cigarettes, a shop for cigarette smokers without the smoke.

Owner Eric R. Kreizman is a Clarkson University graduate who spent more than 20 years in Florida before moving back home to the north country several months ago.

He used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. He tried to quit using various methods, but they were unsuccessful and unsatisfying, he said. Then he discovered electronic vapor cigarettes.

Instead of inhaling smoke, those using electronic cigarettes breathe in water vapor.

He decided to go into business selling the e-cigarettes himself. Gourmet Vapor, 2 Main St., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

A starter kit costs $20, and the “e-juice” that fills the cigarette and provides the nicotine costs an additional $20. A single bottle of e-juice lasts most smokers about a month, Mr. Kreizman said.

Many of the juices he sells he makes himself, in flavors like butter rum. He started making these when he lived in Florida, and his products are still distributed there.

The health effects of electronic cigarettes, how they should be regulated and whether the benefits outweigh any risks are still subjects of much debate. The federal Food and Drug Administration states on its website that the effects of e-cigarettes have not been studied fully.

Although Mr. Kreizman’s e-juices contain nicotine, they are made using only organic ingredients, he said, free of dangerous or toxic chemicals. Despite this, he still treats his wares as tobacco products and will card customers who look younger than 18.

“A tobacco product is a tobacco product, end of story,” he said.

One of his goals, he said, is to help smokers move away from the toxins in cigarettes while providing some freedom over where they can smoke.

“It’s almost impossible to smoke a cigarette anywhere in this day and age,” he said.

E-cigarettes do not have a strong odor like normal cigarettes, and so far there are few limits on where they can be used.

Mr. Kreizman recalled puffing on his electronic cigarette in a restaurant after a meal and told of a customer who was allowed to use one in a hospital. He expects this trend will continue and grow.

“It’s a new and accepted lifestyle,” he said.

He plans to grow his business by establishing loyal customers who come back to him for regular e-juice refills, as well as creating new customers by keeping up with the latest trends.

“There’s so many things evolving on the market as we speak,” he said.

His wife, Sonia Kronin, plans to sell clothing and jewelry out of an unused portion of the store soon.

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