E-cigarette controversy bad for business, local smoke shop owner says

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33)( FOX 44)- Flavored e-cigarettes are almost a thing of the past. The Juul Lab announced Thursday that they will no longer supply customers with fruity-flavored products. The tightened grip on the vape and e-cigarette distribution is starting to hurt local smoke shops in Baton Rouge.

Adel Toom, the manager of Smoke City on O’neal Lane, said the public relations nightmare of vape-related illnesses coupled with the flavor ban controversy has made it hard to garner business.

“We’d been doing pretty well up until a month ago,” Toom said of both smoke shops. “Whenever the news started going around people just stopped vaping.”

Experts say e-cigarettes are only good for people trying to quit smoking. The habit becomes dangerous only when people start using synthetic THC or other types of black market substances. Toom says he’s tried to explain that to customers with no luck. They stopped coming to his smoke kiosk and sales dropped 75 percent.

“We had kids coming up to our booth yelling that vape products are bad. So we couldn’t sell to the smokers around us,” Toom said.

Since the closure of his Mall of Louisiana location, Toom and his brother have been waiting for the second shoe to drop. The new ban on flavored Juul products is just another nail in the coffin for productive business. Flavor is one of the main appeals to e- cigarettes and vapes. Without it, Toom says he isn’t sure what will happen to his business.

“We haven’t been selling more vape products because of the new reports,” Toom said. “We haven’t made an order for vape products in the past two months because we’re too afraid to put more finances in this and lose more money.”

Until things clear up for Toom and his shop, he says he and his brother have other products to keep them a float while the controversy wanes. His only hope right now is that the state doesn’t ban e-cigarettes all together.

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