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INDIANAPOLIS – Vape shop owners are concerned, and rightfully so, they worry that new state rules may hamper, or end, their growing businesses.
New regulations were passed that are set to go into effect July 1st and they are far-reaching. Security measures include rules as arbitrary as criminal background checks for vape shop owners. Do owners of tobacco stores, or places that sell tobacco, have to face these same regulations?
Supporters of the government stepping in say the state had no choice, the federal government has failed to act and the last thing we can have is people acting freely and making decisions for themselves.
“We expect the government to tell us what to do,” said one long-time resident of the state. “We would prefer the biggest government there is, the federal government, but if they won’t step in and control our lives I guess we’ll have to listen to the little brother, the state.”
But there are residents on the other side of this argument as well. They say the new regulations are too restrictive and they will negatively affect many small business.
“I can’t believe we’re being singled out,” said Jeff Tolbert, owner of a newly opened vape shop. “There are a lot of people around here who are just trying to do right by their family. The recession hit particularly hard around here and this is just another way to generate income.”
Many lawmakers view the situation from a completely different angle. “We can’t have people doing whatever they want around here,” said a member of the State Senate who chose to remain anonymous. “I think the real issue is that people have an incorrect view of what freedom is. Freedom isn’t the right to choose your own path or what you want to do, freedom is having the right to freely follow what the government tells you to do. People get upset, like we’re trying to infringe on their freedoms, when in reality, we just want to tell them what to do and have them listen. There’s a big difference.”
Not all of the new rules are bad. Many companies that manufacture e juice praised regulations that came out last year. They included banning sales of vape liquids to minors and they required child-proof packaging. Most vaping liquid contains nicotine which can be hazardous to your health if not handled correctly. Child-proofing the containers that the juice is shipped in is only common sense.
But the new standards that they are proposing are even more far-reaching. These new standards require vape shops that make their own liquids to have a certified ‘clean room’ where the juice is made. To have a true, ISO-certified clean room, you have to invest some money.
“It’s not the cheapest thing in the world,” said chemist James Doyle. “A real clean room will prevent all containments from getting into your juice. It’s a best practice to make sure there are no foreign objects in any juice that is sold to the public.”
Store owners must also pay $1,000 fee to get a permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and enter into a five-year agreement with a security company.
There are some shop owners who belong to an advocacy group, one that protects against unwarranted and undue restrictive measures, and they are fighting back. They have sued the state in an attempt to block the measures. The rules aren’t fair, they argue, Big Tobacco and small stores like gas stations don’t have to comply. What’s fair for one needs to be fair for all, was a common phrase heard by those in attendance of a local meeting.
The FDA is currently in the process of writing regulations for electronic cigarettes. They have yet to determine how they’re going to classify them, and regulate them, but many feel the guidelines will be coming soon and they will restrict sales.
Many have said the government is moving too slowly, as e-cigarettes have quickly gained popularity.
According to some studies out there the percentage of adults how have used e cigarettes is increasing rapidly. Some estimate that the number of people who have tried one have doubled from 2010 to 2013.
A December 2014 study by the University of Michigan found that use of e-cigarettes among teens has surpassed the use of regular cigarettes.