▶️ Local shops to feel the pinch of statewide vape ban

BY MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Starting Tuesday, Oregon’s six-month ban on flavored vaping products will take effect.

The ban will likely impact businesses locally – many were busy Monday selling off what they had left in stock.

But are they the only ones being impacted?

“A lot of people are going to lose jobs. A lot of people are going to lose their businesses. Let’s say there’s about 2500 vape shops in Oregon, if you have only two employees per store, there’s 5000 employees,” said Sean Wibbenmeyer, owner of Hempies in Bend. 

That’s not the only concern.

“I’m worried that a lot of people will go to another state to buy e-juice,” he said. 

And customers just might.

“I’ll probably just make a road trip to a different state,” said customer Ezra Ball. 

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Friday approved a six-month ban on the sale of flavored vape products amid an outbreak of illnesses that has sickened more than 1,000 people nationwide – and killed two in Oregon.

Customers like Ball are confused by the ban and have concerns of their own.

“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because a majority of the vaping related deaths and lung failures have been from black market cartridges, not actually from vapes,” he said. “I feel like it’s just going to push people back to cigarettes.”

That’s one worry some vapers can relate to all too well.

Including Sharlene Lugar who uses flavored vaping products as an alternative to cigarettes.

“For me, I stopped smoking cigarettes because of it,” she said. “And I don’t vape very much, it just gets me by.”

Lugar smoked cigarettes for 15 years before being introduced to vaping products.

She says although she would never go back there are plenty of people who will now that a common alternative isn’t available.

And plenty of others agree.

“I’ve already heard people in here saying they’re just going to go back to smoking cigarettes. People want nicotine,” Wibbenmeyer said.

He said there are specifics of this ban that are still unclear to business owners.

When it comes to how Hempies will be impacted, he says flavored products are such a small part of his business, they’ll likely be fine.

But in six months other shops may not be so lucky.

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