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'I'm closing my doors': Vape shop owners lament state's ban on flavored products

Bebeto Matthews
The Associated Press

Vape shop owners in Washington say the state’s new ban on flavored products is putting them out of business. The emergency rule took effect last month and lasts through February.

Kim Thompson is just celebrating the 10-year anniversary of opening her store, The Vaporium in Lakewood. 

“I’m closing my doors,” Thompson said.

Washington’s prohibition on all flavored vaping products was the final blow for Thompson. The ban came in response to the national outbreak of lung injuries that has sickened more than 2,000 people and killed nearly 50. But increasingly, the federal investigation has implicated black market marijuana products – not legally sold E-cigarettes with nicotine. Still, the ban remains in effect.

“They’ve decimated the small businesses across Washington state that were adult-only vape shops that were helping adults transition from smoking to vaping,” Thompson said. 

Washington joined several others states by recently banning Vitamin E acetate – a chemical found mostly in illicit THC vaping products. 

It's not legal for minors to buy vaping products, but Michelle Davis with the state board of health says the flavor ban is still necessary because teens are attracted to those flavors. 

“We believe that this emergency rule will protect the youth while the investigation continues,” Davis said.  

Vape shops in Washington sued to halt the flavor ban, but a judge denied that request earlier this month. 

Will Stone is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.