TAMPA (WFLA) – It’s an industry that seems to have spring up overnight. Yet now e-cigarette and vaping businesses across the country are struggling with the threat of government regulations and growing negative public opinion. It leaves many to wonder: Is the vape business bubble about to burst?
Business was booming for most of the three-plus years since Michael Cheup opened South Tampa Vape on South Dale Mabry Highway. His store specializes in nicotine vape products and paraphernalia.
Cherup says he started the store for two main reasons – to make money and to help people quit smoking, because, “I quit smoking after 34 years due to vaping. My children who started smoking because of me, they quit because of vaping and so yes we want to help people.”
Cherup says his booming business deflated rapidly in September, when President Donald Trump made a move toward banning non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors, in an attempt to keep those products out of the hands of teenagers.
“The very next week I saw a 40 percent drop in sales,” he says.
Even though the administration has backed-off a bit, it was also around this time when news spread of vape-related illnesses and an increasing number of deaths. These numbers, Cherup believes, were misconstrued.
According to Cherip, “The Centers for Disease Control conflated or put normal nicotine vaping with the THC vaping and just put out a broad statement saying that you shouldn’t vape anything. So consequently people got scared.” So scared, his livlihood began to quickly suffocate.
In the meantime, Cherup stocks lower nicotine producers, does not sell to customers younger than 21, and is hoping for new laws he can live with.
“We’re looking for reasonable regulation from the FDA. We welcome regulation it’s just that right now it’s overbearing.”
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