Vape Shops Being Forced To Close Or Rebrand Amid Bans
Local Small Businesses Are Devastated By Overbearing Regulations
The United States domestic vaping industry has been the victim of an ongoing war by lawmakers over the past year. States and municipalities throughout the county have passed a series of restrictive policies and regulations that ultimately threaten vaping at large.
Small mom-and-pop vape shops across the US are faced with an interesting dilemma; Adapt and rebrand to stay in business or shut down amid a hostile regulatory and economic landscape? While many of these small businesses have already shuttered, some are choosing to reinvent themselves in order to remain open.
Many vape shops have begun to expand their product offerings to better focus on items such as vapor devices and accessories. Many outlets have ditched vapor products altogether to focus on new trends in the market, such as CBD-based products.
These changes come following a strict regulatory crackdown by state and local officials, with laws ranging from outrageous taxation to the outright banning of flavored vapor products, which are often responsible for the majority of a vape shop’s sales. While some outlets have adapted and managed to stay afloat, for the time being, the future remains uncertain as the war against vaping rages onward.
Adapt and Survive
The United States vaping industry has been subject to systemic attacks by lawmakers in their self-proclaimed war against vaping. As a result, small mom-and-pop vape shops throughout the country have been forced to shutter or rebrand in response.
Many vapor-only shops have already shuttered in response to overbearing regulations, such as 95% taxation rates, as well as the banning of flavored vapor products, which can often make up as much as 80-95% of a vape shop’s sales. While some have chosen to expand their product offerings to better focus on vaping hardware and accessories, some have chosen to outright rebrand and shift their focus on the ever-growing CBD market.
These small-business owners have noted these changes from a place of necessity, not want. “It was as if you owned a supermarket and they said to you, ‘you can’t sell any more food there.’ So you will go, OK, but I can sell magazines. I can sell books, greeting cards,” said Stacy Poritzky, co-owner of a Massachusetts vape shop. “And we were just like, OK, we’ve got to think of something.”
While these changes are keeping customers coming for now, it’s uncertain if they will be able to adapt and stay afloat going forward successfully. “This is our plan B. There’s no plan C. So, hopefully this will work,” Poritzky told reporters.
Harm reduction experts and public health scholars have long-cautioned against the prohibitive policies and restrictive regulations currently impacting the industry, not only for their obvious economic impact but for their major public health ramifications as well. In an article published in the journal Science, a group of respected public health experts banded together to speak out against prohibitive policies and restrictive regulations targeting vaping, noting there is currently no evidence that vaping is harmful, and that these policies may force smokers back toward tobacco or even the black market.
Many of these laws are carried out in the ill-informed name of preventing teenage vaping. Despite these claims being parroted by lawmakers and anti-vaping activists, research from the NYU School of Global Public Health found that most teens don’t actually vape at all. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens don’t vape and that even the few that do are not habitual users.
An extensive collection of scientific research and academic review have affirmed vaping’s value as one of, if not the, most effective smoking cessation aid existing. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit and remain off of tobacco.
Not only has vaping been repeatedly demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation aid, but research has also noted its value as a reduced harm alternative to tobacco as well. In fact, research from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found that vaping is actually 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
The United States vaping industry, as we once knew it, is effectively over. Even for the few remaining municipalities that haven’t fallen victim to the war against vaping, the question isn’t if they’re going to end up in the crosshairs, but when.
Despite this, there still remains hope for the industry and vapers across the country. It is still possible to mitigate the impact of additional regulations, as well as lobby for the repeal of some of the more egregious measures.
Members of the vaping industry and community must group together to fight back in the war against vaping, as complacency and inaction will only lead to its inevitable demise. A sustained campaign of civic engagement and public discourse may help inform the public of the promise that vaping can provide, and finally start to shift a tainted public perception warped by fear-mongering media.
What are your thoughts regarding the shifting vapor industry landscape? Has your local vape shop been forced to shut down or shift their focus in response? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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