Customers scramble to stockpile flavored vape products following ban by Inslee

The Washington State Board of Health approved a ban on flavored vaping products, and now customers across the state are scrambling to stockpile as many of these products as they can.

On Thursday, the Board of Health met and filed a ruling for the ban, enacting it into effect in 120 days.

In September, Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order to ban all flavored vape products, following several reports of vaping-related lung illness and death. On October 9, the Board of Health approved the executive order.

This is about protecting the health of Washingtonians. Thanks to the state Board of Health for taking action.

— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) October 9, 2019

However, Sublime Vapor in north Spokane was still selling flavored vape products. Still, the writing is on the wall, and shelves at Sublime Vapor are looking pretty bare.

“We’ve had a massive, massive amount of people coming in, buying out what they can before the ban does happen,” said Joey Blodgett, the general manager for the store.

Customers stockpiled the flavored vape products while they could, because the ban didn’t get filed and go into effect until mid-afternoon Thursday.

Blodgett says he is not afraid for his business tanking, and sales certainly are not dropping in the midst of this ban.

“For the people out there that still vape, you can still do unflavored nicotine,” he said. The store also sells other products as well.

For vape user Darin Eilerman, he said he switched to vaping after battling cancer. He smoked for a long time, too.

“Usually I use the regular tobacco flavor, but I switched over to the flavor just to switch it up a little bit and I found that it helps me during different times to make it a little fruitier. Sometimes, I like the fruit flavor,” Eilerman said.

Blodgett believes that the ban will make people turn to the black market.

“I’ve been saying that for quite some time now. That they do this, you’re going to have a huge black market. Bigger than ever before,” he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned users to stay away from THC-containing vape products, as well as products from “off-the-street.”

Eilerman says he likes to buy from actual stores, like Sublime Vapor. He’s worried officials would ban vaping overall.

“If they take this away from me, I’m gong to be back smoking cigars again and back at the cancer clinic. I know it’s a worse of two evils, but I’ll take that worse of two evils, if it’s going to keep me alive,” he said.

Blodgett says he’d like officials to take a closer look at the problem, rather than jumping into conclusions and taking action so quickly.

‘If the health board, I think they really need to do their research before making crazy reactions. They’re just jumping all over and I really hope Inslee is watching this and I hope he understands what he’s doing, because it hurts small businesses,” he said. “We’re not a giant corporation. If you look around, all the vape shops around here, they’re not huge corporations, we’re all small businesses. So, really. It’s an attack on small businesses.”

Even though there is a ban, Blodgett believes that vaping won’t go away.

“Flavors aren’t going to stop any of this. Not at all. It’s still going to keep on going,” he said.