Smoke Shops In Washington Brace For Impact Of Temporary Ban On Vaping Products — And Wonder What’s Next

Some stores are already bracing for the effects

hey are the front people for the purveyors of death and addiction.”

That’s how Rep. Gerry Pollet, a Seattle Democrat, recently described local smoke shop owners that have opposed Gov. Jay Inslee’s move to temporarily ban flavored e-cigarettes, a move that went into effect on Thursday. The shop owners are frustrated to be losing the sale of some of their most popular products because of what they see as a misguided solution to the severe lung disease found in nearly 1,300 people nationwide, including seven in Washington, leading to 26 deaths as of Oct. 8.

“They’ve made a choice to go into an industry that is based on addiction,” said Pollet, who has advocated for stronger vaping regulation for years. “Will there be a shakeout? I’m sure there will be.”

Some stores are already bracing for the effects. Mustafa Choudhary, the owner of Broadway Smoke Shop, which has been open for over 20 years, said that about 80% of his profitable items will be affected by the ban. The popularity of those products has skyrocketed in the past five years, he said. In that same time period, he saw cigarette sales cut in half, in his estimation, because of state restrictions that have amounted to one of the most stringent smoking bans in America.

Under a voter initiative passed in 2005, smoking is prohibited in buildings, public vehicles and places of employment. This includes areas within 25 feet of doorways and ventilation openings.

Another longtime smoke shop owner said flavored e-cigarettes are what most people buy, with cigarette sales declining 40% at his store since the start of the vaping boom. He expects a ban to effectively cut off half his business. 

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