TAVERNIER -- To circumvent laws that prohibit smoking inside restaurants and public buildings, many smokers are turning to the electronic cigarette.
Eyeing a business opportunity, a couple opened a store a few weeks ago to sell smokeless tobacco products.
Vapor Knight, located at Mile Marker 91 across from Tavernier Towne, is named after co-owner Nathan Knight. The store is specializing in personal vaporizers, which are powered by a 12-volt battery.
E-cigarettes commonly use a heating element to vaporize a solution of nicotine and flavorings.
Starter kits begin at $25 and rise to $100 depending on the consumer's preference.
"There are many different products and prices," Knight said. "It's all up to what people decide they want."
Research on the e-cigarette is still relatively young. Both Knight and a health agent from Monroe County noted they aren't aware of any science that reveals the effects of the vaporized solution.
"I have yet to meet someone who used the product as a cessation tool and had it work," said Donna Stayton, who manages a grant for Tobacco Free Florida.
At this point, Stayton said the county is not recommending the product as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarette stores are becoming more popular in the Keys with at least one in Marathon and a flea market location in Key Largo.
"We have a large variety of flavors," said Jaymee Cayo, Knight's fiancee and business partner.
These flavors include watermelon, banana, grape, strawberry and mocha, to name a few. Mixed into the vaporizing solution is propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin.
Stayton fears that the tobacco companies offering these flavors are gearing their product toward teenagers.
Cayo describes her products as natural.
"These are not harmful compared to traditional cigarettes," she said.
Cayo claims vaporizing the nicotine limits the effects of some carcinogens.