Vape businesses report losses, layoffs 1 week after flavored nicotine liquid ban

FLINT (WJRT) - (10/09/19) - Small local businesses are feeling the impact one week after Michigan's controversial ban on flavored nicotine vaping liquids went into effect.

The ban, which went into effect October 2, prohibits selling of the products but not "mere possession" for people 18 and older as written in the emergency rules.

The rules are in effect for 180 days and can be extended for six months, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"Business has definitely slowed down. It picked up right before because of the fear. People were stocking up scared that they wouldn't have access," said Ronald Young, owner of Wonderland Smoke Shop in Burton.

Young says it's mostly just him and another worker, but if business continues to be down, he will have to make adjustments. To get ready for the ban he sold the nicotine flavored juice at a cheaper price and took a loss.

"[A] Few thousand dollars. Couldn't put an exact number on it yet. We're still working on that. I just kind of pulled it off of the shelf and got it out of the store," Young said.

According to the emergency rules, businesses can not transport the products to a retailer or reseller but can transport the products to people outside the state. They can also return the products to the wholesaler or manufacturer.

Read rules here: Emergency Rules

Mr. Vape and Smoke Shop in Grand Blanc reported a loss of roughly $22,000. Management tells ABC12 that vaping amounted to 70-percent of the business.

The Head Shop Plus Tobacco store in Flint also reported significant losses but did not quantify it.

"Distributors are like 'well we can't take that back,' and it's like well what am I supposed to do with this," said manager Jenna Knez.

Governor Whitmer made Michigan the first state to implement such a ban based on concerns over youth vaping.

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