New vape and e-cig ban causes mixed reactions

Written By Zoe Esperseth, For The Globe

The owner of Vapor Galleria, a popular vape shop in the South Side, said that a ban on flavored products would cause the demise of his store and create new problems for those who vape. 

“It would put us out of business,” said Gary D. McBurney, owner of the Vapor Galleria on 2747 East Carson Street in the South Side. 

In the wake of seven deaths across the U.S. that have been connected to e-cigarette and vape products, the Trump Administration proposed a ban on flavored products. A similar action was taken in 2009 against cigarettes, where all flavors but menthol were banned from being produced. 

According to the Washington Post, the Trump Administration plans to place a ban on all sales of flavored vaping and e-cigarette products until the FDA issues approval for the products. Only tobacco-flavored products will not be banned. 

Some states have already taken steps to ban flavored vape and e-cigarette products. Massachusetts has not only banned flavored products as of Sept. 24, but the state also declared a public health emergency and banned sales of all vaping products. 

About 12.9 percent of college students admitted to having vaped within the past 30 days, according to a survey conducted by the American College Health Association. Their data also shows that perceived use of these products is about 79.9 percent 

Vince Rugani, the Alcohol and Other Drug Educator at Point Park, said that vaping is not the largest concern at the moment, but it is still a problem for students. 

“Since these products contain nicotine, I would definitely consider them addicting,” Rugani said. 

He also said he is concerned that certain students may be more susceptible to vaping. 

“First-year students may be the most at risk, since they’re away from home for the first time experiencing newfound freedoms, trying to fit in,” he said.

His recommendation is that students be informed about the products they are using. 

“Read up, look at current events, make the choice yourself,” Rugani said. 

Although McBurney said his customer base has a wide variety of ages, he estimates that the majority of his sales come from people aged 18-30. His business offers approximately 105 flavored products and that the flavored products make up nearly 100 percent of his business. 

“We have very few unflavored products, and not many people buy them,” McBurney said. 

Hayley Farrell, a sophomore and frequent Vapor Galleria customer, said she started vaping in January of this year  to stop smoking cigarettes. 

“It’s honestly much healthier. I noticed [that] I’m more in shape, and I also don’t have the cigarette smell clinging to my hair and clothes,” Farrell said. “And overall it’s much cheaper.” 

Farrell said that if the ban on e-cigarettes passed, she would most likely go back to smoking traditional cigarettes. 

“I just think a ban would be counterproductive because it’s the THC vapes making people sick,” she said.

McBurney shares a similar opinion on the ban. He argues that if flavored products were banned from stores, people will only find ways to create it themselves or purchase unsafe products from unknown sources. 

“All a ban would do is create a black market. There’s a lot of misinformation about vaping out there,” McBurney said. “Vaping isn’t bad. Buying off the street is bad. People need to think about what they’re putting in their lungs.”