Up in Smoke

Recent bans on the vape industry may impact mom-and-pop shops

David Heilman, North Campus Staff

For the last few years, vape shops have been the roots of many entrepreneurial success stories.  The fresh market continues to grow into the largest small business industry in the U.S. According to the Labor Department’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, approximately two-thirds of employees in the vape shop industries are employed by businesses with ten or less workers.

These small businesses make up about 93 percent of the industry’s storefronts. Despite the success stories so far these, businesses are about to face serious challenges. In recent weeks, the products these stores thrive on have come under severe scrutiny.

Recent releases by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that teenage use of tobacco related-products have increased significantly alongside the popularity of e-cigarettes. Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of youth using tobacco or tobacco-related products has increased from 11.6 to 20.8 with evidence suggesting e-cigarettes as the primary cause. Approximately 34 individuals have also died do to lung-related illness tying back to vaping, and hundreds more have fallen ill to the same lung condition.

Later tests performed by the FDA have found that the conditions may be linked to the vitamin E used in THC cartridges. Despite information on the products remaining limited, the steady increase in young consumers and the rising potentially mortal health problems has led the government to act.

As of May 2020 the FDA will require direct approval of all vape liquids to be sold on the market. This approval process, according to the administration, could cost companies anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000. This increased cost will inevitably fall back on the shops themselves and may be the tipping point to cost out the independent owned businesses.

Even if the independents can survive the added costs, additional challenges loom over the industries. In September, Donald Trump announced plans to ban all sales of flavored vaping. While a federal level ban will take a significant time to enact, it has sparked a few states to enact their own more agile bans. New York and Michigan were the first to push these policies, and soon it will be Pennsylvania’s turn to decide.

October 25, Pennsylvania representative Eddie Day Pachinski proposed his own “Ban Flavored Vapor Products Act”. The ban, as the name entails, will make the sales or production of flavored vapor products illegal, with fines starting at $500 and increasing with repeated offenses. These bans and added fines on a growing industry that still supports Mom and Pop shops could lead to harsh repercussions. Loss of jobs, homesteads, and belief in American independence is at stake. Our foundation was built on “innocent until proven guilty,” be it industry or individual.