Local vape shop reacts to failed 2020 bills prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products
Vaping incidents involving death and hospitalizations made headlines over the past year, but bills to prohibit sales of some vape products were defeated by the Virginia state Senate.
Joey Bolton, assistant manager at Element Vapors in Harrisonburg, said these bills would have punished law-abiding businesses and customers and not done much to deter younger people from buying them.
"We want to keep this stuff out of the hands of kids as much as possible," Bolton said. "We want to make sure that the people who are using these devices are safe and the ultimate goal is that they quit smoking [cigarettes]."
Two bills prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products were proposed, but a committee voted to delay the bills to 2021.
"A good portion of our sales come from flavored products because that's what everybody likes," Bolton said.
He said not having flavored products on the shelves could pose a big issue for the vape industry.
"There are a lot of people in thousands and thousands of jobs that could be affected by something like that," Bolton said.
Bolton said it is frustrating that the vape industry is always under fire. He said the products you find in stores like Element Vapors aren't causing problems for consumers. It is faulty products that make people sick.
He said underage drinking is an issue among the youth, yet the sale of flavored beer and liquor is not prohibited.
"You can go get a coconut drink but can't get a coconut vape?" Bolton said.
While Bolton doesn't agree with prohibiting flavored products, he does agree with laws created to help decrease young adults from vaping.
"I think the law change for the 21 and up law and taking these products out of gas stations was a really good move because it does place a little more responsibility on us," Bolton said.
He said over the next year he thinks the use of vape products among young people will decrease, and he hopes lawmakers see that these products help more people than they hurt.