Up in vapor? Small vape shops struggle to survive under growing weight of tax changes, tariffs and stigma

For Gary and Pam McBurney, smoking a pack or more of cigarettes a day for 30 years was taking a toll on their health and their wallets.

“We hated ourselves,” Ms. McBurney said.

Finally, something helped them quit within three weeks: vaping. “We wanted to become non-smokers. Vaping is the only thing that got us over that,” Ms. McBurney said.

The couple decided to open up their own vape shop in 2016. “Our first mission was to help people overcome their smoking addiction,” Ms. McBurney said.

But getting the word out has not been as easy as they hoped. Vaping and e-cigarette use has garnered a bad reputation. People have been hospitalized over extreme side effects; San Francisco banned vape sales; manufacturer Juul Labs was accused of targeting ads at teens; and there have been reports about unknown chemicals and health effects.

It has been enough to slam the brakes on the growth of an industry that emerged less than a decade ago.

Vape shops started to grow in number in 2012. There are more than 8,000 shops open in the U.S. today, according to the American Vaping Association.

The business has become increasingly challenging. Lawmakers voted for new taxes; social media sites began blocking vape businesses from pushing out ads; and local events do not want them pitching tents. A steady stream of vape shops have gone out of business. Most recently, the U.S Food and Drug Administration announced Aug. 7 that it is investigating 127 cases of people suffering from seizures after vaping.

Where did vaping come from?

Vaping involves an e-cigarette that basically is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer simulating smoking but without burning tobacco. It contains nicotine, so traditional cigarette smokers are still getting that fix. The user is exposed to flavored water vapor, which can be fruity, minty or tobacco flavored.

Although the first documented reference to an e-cigarette came from a U.S. patent in the 1930s, the first commercially successful e-cigarette was created in Beijing in 2003.

Hon Lik, a pharmacist, inventor and smoker, created the device after his father, also a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer, according to the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association. E-cigarettes were introduced to the U.S. in 2006.

By 2011, a study was published showing that e-cigarettes were a promising tool to help smokers quit, producing six-month abstinence rates better than those for traditional nicotine replacement products. Two months later, the FDA said it would regulate e-cigarettes as it regulates other tobacco products….

….read more at Pittsburg Post-Gazettevape shop

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