Industry News

SAC Flavored tobacco ban threatens local vape industry

Shock waves will be akin to the San Andreas in 1906!

ingBy Felicia Alvarez  – Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal

Come Oct. 1, the sale of flavored tobacco products will be banned within Sacramento’s city limits.

The ban, passed by the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday, has local tobacco and vapor shops reeling, unsure what the future may hold for their businesses.

City leaders and public health officials backed the ban, citing alarming increases in youth consumption of flavored tobacco products. An estimated 15 percent of ninth and 11th grade students said they had used e-cigarettes, according to a statewide study conducted from 2013 to 2015. Those rates have continued to rise, despite statewide efforts to raise the legal age to buy tobacco, according to the city. 

The vape industry has also come under fire for selling products that critics say are designed to appeal to youth, such as tobacco products flavored to taste like cotton candy, gummy bears or popsicles.

Sacramento has some 386 tobacco retailers, according to the city’s analysis. With a ban on selling what retailers described as one of the more profitable items on their shelves, the city may see a wave of new, smaller retail spots shutter along Stockton Boulevard, Broadway Avenue and Fulton Avenue, where smoke shops dot the area, leaving some strips malls and storefronts vacant.

“I really feel like it’s going to destroy the industry in town,” said Michael Miller, as associate at Boss Vapor Co. in Old Sacramento.

Miller's shop focuses purely on e-cigarette accessories and flavored tobacco products. He said that it would be unlikely for shops to move forward with flavorless vape products. He added that he wasn't sure whether his shop would close.

"It's just a waiting game for us," Miller said.

For other retailers, the ban is set to take a major slice out of their revenues. During Sammy Shinwar’s three years of running vape shops in Sacramento, he said flavored products have been one of the most popular products in his stores, providing at least 50% of profits.

“This is where all the profit comes from. If it doesn’t come from there, I’m not sure where the money for the rent will come from,” Shinwar said.

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