What the future holds for vape shop owners, workers in light of recent ban

BOSTON — Hundreds of people say they might be out of a job now that there is a four-month ban on selling vaping products in Massachusetts.

An industry that boomed in the last five years, vaping has become commonplace for many people, from cigarette users opting for a "healthier" alternative to medical marijuana patients vaping their medicine.

In recent years, vape shops have been popping up in almost every city and town across the state.

David Bershad, who owns Vape Daddy's, told Boston 25 News he is now trying to save what was a profitable business for him.

"[I] didn’t know much about vapes, my business partner had a son who was smoking two packs of Marlboro reds a day [until] he quit and picked up the vape," said Bershad.

Bershad, who used to smoke cigars, knew nothing about e-cigarettes until about seven years ago.

In 2013, Bershad quit cigars and switched to vaping. He then opened his first Vape Daddy's shop. He went on to open three more - employing 14 people in total.

Recently, however, Bershad's business became temporarily illegal in Massachusetts.

"I don’t even think they took into consideration how many people were going to lose their jobs," said Bershad.

When the town of Norwood voted to ban the sale of flavored e-liquids two weeks ago, Bershad had no choice but to close down his shop there.

While losing his Norwood shop was a big hit, Governor Baker's temporary ban of vaping products could be the last straw for Bershad and many like him.

"We can’t keep our remaining three stores open for four months," said Bershad.

If the Vape Daddy's Newton location chooses to stay open, the only things they could continue to sell would be pipes and CBD oil. If they were to legally reopen their doors, they would have to ensure that any and all vaping products are off the shelves.

Gov. Baker said the four-month ban is necessary in order to evaluate how many of the growing number of reported lung illnesses are linked to vaping.

"This was not an easy decision for us," said Baker. "We considered all of the available issues, including issues associated with economic dislocation, but once we met with all the medical experts, [we decided] it’s just not a viable option."

Bershad says he supports the research and believes that, in the end, it will point to the culprit being black market products, not the legal vaping products he sells.

"Get the research done, do whatever you need to do but don’t ban the product," said Bershad.

Meanwhile, some store owners are already working on lawsuits in efforts to overturn the ban. Many, on the other hand, say they will have to declare bankruptcy.

Bershad said he's just trying to do what he can to hold on to as many employees as he can for as long as possible.

"It’s my job or maybe was my job, but we have families, we have kids to support," said Marco Picariello, an employee at Vape Daddy's.

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