Vape shops "flabbergasted" by flavored e-cig ban

“We are a reputable, compliant shop that is trying to help smokers quit"

Mike Baggerman
September 17, 2019 - 1:00 am

Randy Sharpe at Premier Vape on Union Road in Cheektowaga. September 16, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Some vape shop owners are worried that they may go out of business thanks to the latest move by government to regulate the business.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced the ban of flavored e-cigarettes and asked state police and the department of health to ramp up law enforcement against retailers who sell to anyone under the legal age to purchase the products. The governor also plans to advance legislation to eliminate “deceptive marketing” of e-cigarettes to kids.

“Vaping is dangerous, period,” Cuomo said.

Randy Sharpe, the owner of Premier Vape on Union Road in Cheektowaga, is among those fearful of the short and long term impact of government stepping in.

“I was flabbergasted by the timing,” Sharpe said. “As a shop owner and a vaper myself, we weren’t given any kind of guidelines or notice on this proposed ban.”

Sharpe stressed that legitimate vape shops, such as his, are meant for adults.

“Kids are not allowed in our vape shops,” Sharpe said. “Smokers and ex-smokers don’t want to associate (with cigarettes). They want those flavors to help them quit. They’re trying to disassociate themselves with your typical, combustible, tobacco cigarette. It’s working for them…This is an adult alternative to smoking.”

Multiple health officials have said that e-cigarettes are not “safe” despite the counter argument that they are “safer” than cigarettes. Sharpe said no one has ever called e-cigarettes “safe”.

“There’s been multiple studies that say ‘safer’,” he said. “There was a study that came out of the UK that the Royal College of Physicians, 95 percent safer alternative. That should be embraced. If we’re truly caring about public health and the welfare of adult smokers, that should be embraced as a safer alternative.”

The study referenced summarized that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking and don’t result in the normalization of smoking. It also concluded that e-cigarettes helps people quit smoking. However, it does acknowledge that there is the possibility of long-term harm, though it is substantially smaller than smoking tobacco products.

Since overcoming the initial shock of the governor’s executive action, Sharpe said he now emphasizes education to his customers. He said he tells these people that flavors may no longer be an option to them.

“We’re trying to be proactive…which is a travesty really,” Sharpe said.

“It’s astounding to me that the governor is moving forward based on a public health emergency that has nothing to do with products that are sold in legitimate vaping stores,” Vapor Trail Electronics owner Andrew Osborne, who is also the VP of the NYS Vapors Association, said. “The real issue here at hand is that the public is not properly being informed about these lung diseases. The public is getting the wrong information from the governor’s office and the New York State Department of Health.”

Osborne said the recent illnesses and deaths from vaping came from products that had links to marijuana e-joints.

“Illegal, black market, illicit e-joints,” Osborne said. “Not e-cigarettes.”

Sharpe echoed Osborne’s comments. He said there were black market THC cartridges that were bought from a drug dealer which resulted in the deaths and illness around the country.

“We are a reputable, compliant shop that is trying to help smokers quit,” Sharpe said.

 Sharpe worries that there will be an even bigger black market of e-cigarettes with the flavor ban.

“Over 95 percent of my adult vapor are vaping flavors,” Sharpe said. “That’s clear across the country, that average. They’re going to find it because it’s going to help them quit. It’s a safer alternative and they’re going to get it somewhere.”

Sharpe was also disappointed because of their support for raising the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products in New York. He said he wants a sit-down, roundtable discussion with leadership to come to an agreement on facts in the vaping industry.

“Do research,” Sharpe said. “The research is out there. The results are out there. We need everyone’s help to get that truth out there. This is a safer alternative to combustible tobacco. We need everyone’s help.”

The Trump administration is also considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

 

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