It’s a $3 billion industry in the United States.
But e-cigarette sales slowed dramatically this fall, in the midst of a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.
Now, President Trump has reversed course, saying he no longer supports an all-out ban on flavored vaping products.
Vaping retailers in the U.S. are breathing easier after President Trump retreated on his threat to ban flavored vaping products.
Hassan Sobh opened one of the biggest smoke shops in Miami Beach about six months ago.
“When they were talking about fully banning it, that’s when I started to realize that I was losing a lot of sales on the disposables, the Juuls,” said Sobh. “I started asking few customers and they said they were hearing that people were dying this and that so a lot of people got scared.”
The Trump administration is debating how to respond to public alarm over a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related illness.
More than 2000 people have been sickened – and at least 47 deaths are linked to e-cigarette use. Government scientists have identified Vitamin E acetate as a possible cause.
That’s an additive often found in black-market vapes containing the marijuana component, THC. Legal vaping suppliers say they’re worried about the impact on sales.
At a recent White House meeting convened by the president, industry leaders, health advocates and politicians debated how to address the main concern: the popularity of vaping products among children.
“They are getting addicted to nicotine because of flavors. Sixty-six percent of the kids addicted to these products are saying they didn’t even know it had nicotine in it,” said U.S. Senator Mitt Romney. “They thought it was just a candy type product. It’s the flavor that gets the kids in it, it’s a health emergency.”
President Trump said he now believes a federal ban would simply push buyers underground.
Back in Miami Beach, retailers stand by their products.
“I’m not going to lie. I don’t see much difference. Flavor or not, I understand it makes it a little more tempting. I don’t think this stuff is really bad for you,” said Sobh.
The only action President Trump now openly supports is raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.
With reports indicating a flavored vape ban could cost industry jobs and alienate voters, the White House for now, is pausing for a smoke break.