RI vape shops feel left in dark as flavored ban looms

Rhode Island vape shop owners feel left in the dark as the state puts together it’s regulations banning flavored e-cigarette products after Gov. Raimondo signed an emergency order last week.

Since that order was signed, vape shop owners have been left twisting in the wind with absolutely no information coming from the state about what’s going on, what’s happening to the businesses, and when they will have to close their doors.

As of Monday afternoon, a person can still buy flavored vaping products in the state until the Department of Health releases its guidelines which will take effect immediately and last four months.

The problem, according to Jon Greenwood, who was helping out a North Smithfield vape shop Monday, and with more than ten years in the industry, is that with money at stake for businesses, they should have a little bit of an idea about what’s going to happen.

“We should be receiving a certified letter, or we should be called,” Greenwood said. “These other vape shops are in the same boat. They’re saying the same thing: We don’t know whats going on.”

Greenwood said that businesses have stopped ordering product at its stores.

By ordering more product, businesses are risking having to store the product for at least four months, and some of the products could expire.

“We have received zero guidelines for anything whatsoever,” he said.

Greenwood believes the vaping industry in Rhode Island should have a voice at the table while the state puts together its guidelines. He believes adult vape users who use the products to quit smoking cigarettes should have a voice there.

“We need to have that middle ground and you need to sit down in a room and figure out, ‘you don’t like this, I like this,'” he said. “Let’s meet in the middle.”

The Department of Health said the regulations should be planned out by this week, but did not comment on what exactly will be in those regulations.

A spokesperson with the Department of Health did not return calls as to how the agency will be contacting vape shops, if at all, ahead of the ban.