BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Vape shop owners are celebrating a victory after a court granted a temporary restraining order, putting the ban on flavored e-cigarettes on hold.
"As soon as I found out the ban was gonna be delayed, it was a huge relief," said CJ Johnston, co-owner of Vapor Trail in South Buffalo. "At the same time I was like, it's going to happen again. I'm going to be waiting again to find out if I'm gonna lose my business."
Johnston spent the day preparing for the worst, with the ban on flavored e-cigarettes set to go into effect on October 4th.
"We let our employees know that we were gonna have to let go of them, as soon as our flavors are gone that’s 90% of our business gone instantly, can you imagine being a pizzeria and you can’t sell pizza," said Johnston.
His customers were also getting ready for the ban.
"People have been coming in and buying in bulk because they’re afraid," said Johnston. "Everyday I come in here it’s a wake, every time a customer comes in they give their condolences they’re ready to cry they shake my hand they say they’re so sorry they can’t believe this is happening, they’re angry and sad"
They even started doing buy one get one deals to sell their products faster. But now, they will live to see another day.
After the court granted the restraining order, the state health department responded in a statement:
“It is undeniable that the vaping industry is using flavored e-cigarettes to get young people hooked on potentially dangerous and deadly products. While the court’s ruling temporarily delays our scheduled enforcement of this ban, it will not deter us from using every tool at our disposal to address this crisis. Make no mistake: this is a public health emergency that demands immediate action to help ensure the wellbeing of our children, and we’re confident that once the court hears our argument they will agree.”
Supporters of the vape industry say they want to work with the state on a solution.
"I assume if we’re ever able to sit down with the governor and health department, I think we need to regulate the number of shops and to license the shops so we make sure that this product is not getting into the hands of children," said former county executive, Joel Giambra.
"I am fully open for regulation, especially reasonable regulation, like I wanna stay for the long haul, I want to continue to help people, I don’t wanna feel like a criminal and that's what the government is doing to me and I'm an honest person trying to help honest people," said Johnston.
Johnston said the Erie County Health department came to his shop last week to do an inspection and to hand out these signs to hang in the window.
Johnston uses vapes himself and says vaping is not responsible for the illnesses we're seeing around the country.
"I would think if I’ve been vaping since 2005 and I do this all the time. This is my business , it's my life I would’ve been sick by now, why are people just getting sick now, it doesn’t make sense, that’s because its not from vaping, it's from drug dealers," said Johnston.
The CDC says 1,080 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 48 states and one U.S. territory. The count includes 18 deaths in 15 states.