Vape shop owners concerned potential ban on e-cigarette flavors will force store closures

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Trump administration announced it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavored electronic cigarettes amid a vaping crisis.

Chicago area vape shop owners fear the ban will put thousands of independent small shops around the country out of business. The ban is in response to recent vaping illnesses and deaths, as well as a huge increase in teen use.

"About 70% of my total sales are flavored nicotine products, we found when adults are trying to transition, tobacco flavors are too much of a reminder of the cigs they used to smoke," said Cool Clouds Vapor Shop Owner Reid Nuttall.

Owners said their customers are not teenagers and the products they sell are not the cause of the recent health scares. Owners are urging the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider the ban.

"The problem is if you eliminate flavored tobacco products, you move the independent vapor industry back in the hands of big tobacco," Nuttall said.

Vaping customers may be forced to return to the tobacco flavor if other flavors are banned from stores.

"Unless we change directions, it will eliminate 70-80% of our sales," said Level Vape Owner Larry Eng.

Some customers said that they may give up e-cigarettes for good if flavored products are eliminated.

"For me I've already set a goal for myself to quit smoking anything by 35, so the timing works out," said Melissa Schlesinger, a vaping customer.

Health officials hope the ban will result in people quitting; however, vape shop owners' fear former cigarette smokers will return to their old habits or turn to the black market for flavored e-cigarettes.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.