Vaping businesses throughout New York State will soon be clearing their shelves of all e-flavored cigarettes. The state’s ban on the sale of flavored liquids goes into effect next week.
“Quite frankly I find it unconstitutional. You’re taking away people’s livelihoods,” said Donna Menz the owner of Southtowns Vape.
Menz opened her business in Orchard Park to give people addicted to cigarettes the chance to try an alternative. She says business was steady since opening in 2013, but not anymore.
“You know the customers become your friends and I’m very concerned because a lot of them are talking about going back to smoking,” she said. “They love their flavors and hate the flavor of tobacco because it reminds them of smoking.”
The state is banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other vaping products. New York’s ban comes as federal health officials investigate a surge of severe breathing illnesses linked to vaping.
Right now, vape shops will still be allowed to sell flavors like menthol and tobacco, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing to have menthol added to the ban.
“The issue is real and it’s frightening,” Cuomo said. “You have hundreds of people all across this country who have gotten ill. You have people who are dying and you have young people who are getting addicted to nicotine and they don’t even know what they’re doing.”
Menz said she’s already lost 50 to 60 percent of sales recently and this ban will hurt her business even more.
“It’s gonna be devastating to this whole market,” Menz said. “You’re gonna have businesses filing for bankruptcy, you’re gonna have the unemployment lines out the door in Western New York because everyone is going to be laid off and lose their jobs. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Menz said the e-liquids she sells are registered with the FDA. She said the safety risk comes from buying vape products from unknown places.
“They’re buying them out on the black market,” Menz said. “They are not being bought legally and they are tainted with who knows what.”
The vaping industry is suing to remove New York state’s ban altogether.