TULSA — Health officials search for the cause, or causes, of mysterious respiratory illnesses and at least six deaths associated with vaping.
At the same time, schools and parents are dealing with an explosion in the number of teens and kids using e-cigarette vaping products.
The Centers for Disease Control are urging people to stop vaping until the illnesses and deaths can be explained.
This week, the federal government is considering going a step farther. It may ban non-tobacco flavored e-cigarette liquids within the next 30 days.
While health officials applaud efforts to keep kids from vaping, businesses selling vaping products are bracing for the impact a ban could have on their livelihood.
Jennifer Burton owns the “Vape This” shops in Broken Arrow and Tulsa. The BA store has been open for seven years, and the Tulsa shop for six years.
Burton told 2 Works for You her stores are like other vape shops in Green Country.
"It looks like there's approximately 45 shops in the Tulsa and surrounding areas," Burton said. "Most of them average three to four employees for each location."
Burton believes a federal ban on selling non-tobacco flavored e-cigarette products will deeply affect her business and others.
Burton showed us what she calls her liquid wall. It is floor to ceiling shelves hold over 150 flavors of e-cigarette liquid.
If a ban on non-tobacco flavored liquids goes into effect, she expects to only have approximately 8 tobacco flavored liquids to sell her customers.
It is not what her customers want. Burton pointed out that her clientele are adults that like the non-tobacco flavors, because many are use flavored vaping liquids to help keep away from traditional cigarettes.
“Over 65% our sales in our liquid lines are non-tobacco flavored products,” Burton explains. “It would be very difficult to stay in business with the majority of your clientele doesn't want the products that you have to offer.”
CNBC reports the Food and Drug Administration is working on guidelines for removing all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes from the market within 30 days.
This would include flavors like mint and menthol.
Companies might be able to reintroduce flavors later so long as they submit a formal application and receive approval from the FDA.
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