BOSTON (CBS) – The Massachusetts Public Health Council has lifted a temporary three month ban on vaping products, but is still heavily regulating what products can be sold.
For Vape Daddy’s owner David Bershad it comes with mixed reaction. He’s back in business but not the way he wants to be. “Customers are back, but the first thing I say is we can sell you hardware, sell coils, but all we have is tobacco flavors, is that OK?” said Bershad.
Flavored vapes are still banned under state law and that was the majority of his business. He sold 140 vaping flavors, but currently has only a dozen unflavored vapes. Flavored vapes can only be sold and consumed in licensed smoking bars.
Under new emergency powers to implement the state’s new tobacco control law, the Public Health Council is also requiring vape stores to post signs warning of the dangers of vaping, leaving customers like Alex, making a purchase at Vape Daddy’s, calling it an overreach. “This is unforgivable and bad business,” Alex said. “People are trying to switch from cigarettes to vaping and I think vaping is more safe.”
Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Monica Bharel disputes that. “There’s associations that have been made but the cause of e-cigarette and vaping related injuries is not known in Massachusetts or nationally at this time,” Bharel said.
Three months ago Governor Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency following mysterious vaping-related lung illness across the country. In Massachusetts three people have died.
It’s left David Bershad to figure out ways to expand his business now to stay afloat. “We’re going to see how it goes,” Bershad said. “We’ve purchased some new devices. You have to stay up it’s a fast moving industry.”
The regulations will also come in stages. Next June flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes will be banned, and a 75 percent tax on vaping products will be levied.
Cannabis vapes will remain quarantined by the Cannabis Control Commission, which has not yet signaled when it might allow sales to resume. The commission’s next public meeting is set for Dec. 19.