The last two months have seen vape bans of one kind or another pop up in numerous states across the country. These bans and restrictions have all been enacted as a response to the recent outbreak of illnesses purportedly related to vaping. Lawmakers and media outlets claim time and time again that e-cigarettes and other vape products are at the root of these health problems, which appear to be overwhelmingly affecting teenagers. The hope, in most cases, is that these bans will give medical professionals and politicians time to identify the issue and take steps to regulate the industry and its products.
Most states that have enacted bans have only put restrictions on flavored products, but that is not the case for every jurisdiction. Nowhere has this sudden ban on vaping products been harsher than in Massachusetts. The New England state's ban went into effect on September 25th, and covers all vaping products, including hardware and e-liquid, both flavored and unflavored. Governor Charlie Baker declared the sudden increase in vaping illnesses as a public health crisis and announced the ban as a way to give officials time to try and identify the root causes of the health problems surrounding vaping.
What Baker (and many other politicians) have not taken into account, however, is that the bans they are putting into place are hurting small businesses. Many small business owners are upset with how little warning they were given about the bans, effectively giving them no time to offload their banned product or make other arrangements. This lack of warning has meant that several vape shop owners in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other ban states have had to close their doors for the time being. Many of these entrepreneurs claim that flavored products make up nearly 95% of the products they sell, and that they cannot sustain their businesses on what little product they can still legally sell.
The bans surrounding vaping are undoubtedly irresponsible, regardless of the context. They are especially irresponsible, however, when it comes to the financial well-being of small business owners. These legal restrictions have been put in place with no regard to how they will affect the livelihoods of hardworking and economically valuable small business owners. If you have a local vape shop near you that you support, we urge you to contact your representatives on their behalf and fight for not only your rights as a consumer, but for their rights as business owners.