TOWN OF LERAY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Two north country “vape” stores are closing, in the wake of Governor Cuomo’s crackdown on flavored vaping.
The two are in Philadelphia and Potsdam, according to Mathew Salter, who is the general manager of the “Clouds Over” vape shops in central and northern New York.
Tuesday, the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council issued an emergency ban on flavored e-cigarettes. That, after hundreds of people nationwide fell ill from vaping and at least seven people have died.
Cuomo and public health advocates see flavored vaping as a way to attract youngsters to the habit, a charge the industry denies.
At the Clouds Over vape store near Evans Mills Thursday, Joel Keen of Old Forge was busy stocking up on flavored vape.
“It was the electronic cigarette that got me off the cancer sticks,” Keen said.
“I smoked for about 20 years and I quit in 2015, and went with E cigarettes and I use them less and less all the time. My lungs feel better."
Vape stores have two weeks in which to sell their stock of flavored vape products.
“I like sky blue. It’s blueberry. Just because I am over 18 doesn’t mean I don’t like flavors. I don’t know, it’s just really disappointing," Keen said.
And bad for the vaping business.
“This gentleman (Keen) just bought 10 bottles of e liquid, spent $270 just so he could stock up as long as possible on his favorite flavor that he drove over an hour and a half to get," Salter said of Keen.
Other people who vape in the north country fear losing the option that’s kept them cigarette free.
That includes local musician Paul Ferguson, who uses Graham Cracker flavor.
“We’ve all tried the patches and the gums and the New Year’s resolutions, all the alternatives. You become desperate after a while.
"These, for the 50 years that I’ve been smoking, these are the alternative that works.”
At the same time, some say the ban doesn’t go far enough.
“Although we do agree with the banning of flavored E cigarettes, the American Heart Association thinks they haven’t gone far enough with governor Cuomos’s executive orders," said Stacy Spaziaani, Regional Director for the Heart Association.
"And we want menthols to be included in that as well as banned.”
Spaziani says such a ban would include regular menthol cigarettes and menthol-flavored E cigarettes.