BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York is the first to state to ban flavored e-cigarettes. It's a ban that has Demand Vape on Kenmore Avenue concerned for the future of it's employees and the local vape shops it distributes too.
Demand Vape is the largest distributor in the state to the state. Tim Conn, the Director of Marketing and Communications at Demand Vape, said it sells to about 500 vape shops across New York State.
"Every single person that I've talked to is concerned about their jobs," Conn said. "Every single shop that I spoke with in New York is planning on closing their doors, they cannot go three months without selling their number one seller, which is flavored liquid."
Conn said he's concerned about the fate of his approximately 200 employees working locally in Buffalo.
"We will have to look at layoffs, New York State accounts for about 10-15 percent of our sales, which would be a giant hit to our bottom line," he said.
On Tuesday Governor Andrew Cuomo said, "It is undeniable that vaping companies are deliberately using flavors like bubblegum, Captain Crunch and cotton candy to get young people hooked on e-cigarettes - it's a public health crisis and it ends today."
Conn said the flavored e-liquid makes up 60-65 percent of their products for another reason.
"Tobacco users do not want to vape a tobacco flavor," he said. "You want to remove the correlation between smoking tobacco and what you're doing, so people overwhelmingly choose flavors. Less than 1 percent of our sales for e-liquid is a tobacco flavor."
He said the issue is not the flavors, but teen access to e-cigarettes. He said products should be sold at age restricted vendors, like the vape shops he sells to, and not at convenience stores and gas stations.
The ban comes as the New York State Health Department reported 78 vape related illnesses across the state, with 22 in Western New York, which is the most of any region. Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner, said most of the people getting sick are not getting their products from stores, but that it's hard to know the full scope of vaping's health effects.
"From the investigation so far it seems like the severe lung disease that are causing people to be hospitalized is really from black market products," Burstein said.
Michigan is the only other state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, but President Trump has proposed taking the ban nationwide.