As Mass. temporarily bans vapes, NH eyes an increase in sales

As Mass. temporarily bans vapes, N.H. eyes an increase in sales

SALEM, N.H. — Vape shops across the Massachusetts border are already gearing up for an increase in sales following Tuesday's temporary vape ban.

For the next four months, or until January 2020, Governor Charlie Baker has issued a ban on all vaping products across the state. Now, smoke shop owners in New Hampshire are hoping people will start heading north for their vape products instead.

Andrew Stephane, owner of Vape Heavenz in Salem, N.H., says the ban in Massachusetts only helps his business grow.

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"It’s like 30 minutes from downtown Boston, so I think people will start coming to New Hampshire and especially on the border here," said Stephane. "If they don’t ban the flavors here or the other vape products, definitely we’re gonna order more."

While this might be good news for some in the short term, vape users are worried about what this ban could mean for the long term.

"I used to smoke a pack and a half per day and I quit because of this stuff," said Michael Summerlin.

Summerlin is among many questioning the reasoning behind Baker's ban.

"You can put cigarettes into your body but you can’t put something that’s a safer alternative into your body?" said Summerlin.

Vape users were confused when the decision was made to ban any and all vape products, many of them questioning why the government is cracking down on legal sales instead of focusing on the products that can be obtained from the black market.

Stephane says he wishes there was a way to add more restrictions to the sale of vaping products, such as stricter regulations to keep them away from children. He also hopes the ban doesn't make it across state lines.

"Everyone in the business here is worried a little bit," he said.

Boston 25 News has reached out to Governor Chris Sununu's office for a comment on whether a similar ban could happen there, but have not heard back yet.

Vape shop owners across New England have reason to worry about the ban. In Massachusetts, stores that focus exclusively on selling vapes and vape products might not survive the next four months.

Jonathan Lau, who owns The Vape Shop, says he's basically being forced to close down because of the ban.

"I’ll be out of business," said Lau. "I’ll be filing for bankruptcy. No one is dying from any products from my shop. We help adult smokers quit and we keep  minors away from my shop."

Gov. Baker says vaping's unknown health risks are far too great and that a four-month ban is needed to properly regulate vaping and e-cigarettes. Customers, however, are questioning that logic, especially when cigarettes are still being sold.

As soon as the ban went into effect when the Public Health Department voted on it, customers flooded vape shops in a last minute attempt to stock up before products were taken from the shelves.

"We obviously understand it is going to take a little time for folks to get products off shelves and into their store rooms," said Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts’ Secretary of Executive Office of Health & Human Service.

Still, business owners like Lau maintain that vaping has been around for years, and for a ban to come so quickly without assessing what the exact cause for the recent vaping-related illnesses might be is very detrimental for businesses.

"They’re definitely lumping everything together," said Lau.

Other states may soon follow the Bay State's lead in temporarily banning vape sales. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is expected to issue an executive order on vaping Wednesday.