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Hazy future for WNY vapor shops

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-10 09:51:00-04

New federal regulations could drive more than a hundred electronic cigarette vapor shops in Western New York out of business.

The Food and Drug Administration will soon require manufactures of vapor juices to get a permit for each of the ingredients inside the different flavors. The licensing process could cost businesses millions of dollars.

“There is a battle between government, taxation, big tobacco and the big pharmaceutical companies that make nicotine replacement therapies. We’re a big competition for them,” the owner of Vapor Trail, Andrew Osborne said.

Osborne is afraid he will have to let go of his six employees by this time next year, because he won’t be able to stay in business.

“The largest vapor manufactures would not be able to afford to pay for the permit applications,” Osborne said.

The South Buffalo business owners believe this new regulation is “prohibition on vapor products.” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the regulation will help protect the youth from the dangers of nicotine. It is part of a series of new laws targeting e-cigarettes that take effect next month.

But Osborne said e-cigarettes aren’t harmful and many people use them as a way to stop smoking.

“The writing is on the wall. Smoking rates are lower than ever and no one wants to attribute it to this product. Because then they would have to admit that this may not be something we want to get rid of,” Osborne said.

Health Behavior Expert at Roswell Park Cancer Institute Andrew Hyland said e-cigarettes may not be as bad as some people might think.

“I think for a cigarette smoker who switches completely to an e-cigarette, I think that they're likely reducing their risk,” Hyland said.

Hyland said the regulating e-cigarettes makes sense, but it concerns him that there isn’t enough research on e-cigarettes.

“We know about cigarette smoking and how dangerous that is. If e-cigarettes can play a role in reducing cigarette smoking then I’m all for it,” Hyland said.

Osborne believes the government and big tobacco companies are working together to shutdown small vapor shops.

“The smokers who need vapors products are going to be completely robbed of that simply because the government doesn't understand what these products are,” Osborne said.