A complete shock. That’s how one Massachusetts vape store owner described his reaction to Massachusetts’ four month vape product ban.
“We don’t know how to react to this. We just got a day’s notice. Not even that actually, we’re supposed to shut down by the end of the day.” said Umer Rehman, owner of Planet Vape in East Longmeadow.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency Tuesday allowing him to enact the ban. That authority is being questioned by the American Vaping Association. A statement issued today, read in part:
"Governors are elected to sign or veto bills passed by elected legislators, not unilaterally implement laws themselves. We look forward to supporting a lawsuit against Gov. Baker's illegal and unconstitutional ban.”
Vaping association President Gregory Conley also said:
“With the evidence on these illnesses continuing to point squarely at illicit and contaminated THC cartridges, particularly in the northeast U.S., this ban on nicotine vaping products is absolutely absurd.”
Meanwhile, store owners like Rehmen fear for their business. Reman owns two Massachusetts stores. He values his combined inventory at $160,000 - inventory he can no longer sell.
Vape shops just beyond the state border in Connecticut remain open. Wednesday, several cars with Massachusetts license plates were seen in vape store parking lots in Enfield.
Customers from Massachusetts who spoke with NBC Connecticut with said they were caught off guard by the ban and came to Connecticut to purchase products. Connecticut store owners we approached today declined to be interviewed but expressed concern action could take place here soon.
Earlier today, Rhode Island became the third state to ban flavored vaping products, joining Michigan and New York. Could Connecticut be next?
“I don’t know what I can do by executive order, but I’m going to be very strong doing it forward,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. “At least get something on the bill before the legislature as soon as we can.”
Connecticut lawmakers have been very vocal about vaping. Earlier this month Rep. Rosa DeLauro called on the FDA to remove all vaping products from the market. On Monday, Sen. Richard Blumental held a round table with Newington High School Students to gather information on how wide spread its use is among teens. Now, Lamont is considering what action to take.
“When you ban all vaping products whether that leads more people to the black market, the illegal stuff that’s even more dangerous,” he said. “I want to do a little more research on this, it’s still early.”
Lamont was at a press function Wednesday with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo was asked about the issue as well and said the bordering states need to work together, explaining it makes no sense to pass one set of rules in New York when they can just drive across the border to Connecticut, much like it appeared people in Massachusetts did in northern Connecticut.