Vape shops feeling financial pain from Washington ban

SEATTLE – The first day of Washington State’s new ban on flavored vape products went into effect Thursday.

Vape shops in the state looked desolate as shop owners removed rows and rows of vape flavored products from their walls and shelves.

“Yeah, I walked in and I was just going to get one of these vapes, but I guess they’re illegal today so I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” said customer Daniel Moriarty.

The State Board of Health approved the emergency order Wednesday. The order bans businesses from selling flavored vapor products for 120 days.

The new rule is similar to actions being taken by states nationally, including New York and Massachusetts.

The Washington Secretary of Health says the ban is a critical part of the State’s response to the youth vaping epidemic. The Board of Health reports seven cases of vaping associated lung injury in Washington.

“What is constituted as flavor? That’s what the issue is,” said Paublo Smith, the general manager of Pot Shop Seattle. “That’s part of the confusion. It’s something that’s rushed. We want to ban it, the buzz word was ‘flavor’”

Now vape shop owners like Angela Shook are worried about their livelihood.

“Overnight this happened, which is going to greatly impact our income. We’re trying to figure out our options, trying not to go completely bankrupt,” said Shook.

Shook is the co-owner of Sky Vapor, which has three locations including Everett. On Thursday, workers cleared away hundreds of bottles of juice and stacked them away in boxes.

“Only leaving tobacco, which I’d say is probably four percent of what we sell, if that,” said Shook.

In response, advocates in the vaping industry say they will take action against the State of Washington.

“We will be litigating every action of this kind,” said Tony Abboud, Executive Director of Vapor Technology Association. “We are committed to ensuring access for the 10 million adult consumers who rely on alternative products to quit smoking cigarettes.”

At last check, a lawsuit has yet to be filed against the state.