SEATTLE — Washington vape shop owners are scrambling to stay in business amid an emergency ban on all flavored and THC vapor products.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order requesting that the Washington State Health Board impose the ban. The 120-day emergency ban went into effect Thursday, October 10.
Kevin Knapp, owner of Pure Vapor in West Seattle, thinks a ban is not the solution to the problem.
"I think that is just a way too aggressive solution to this, you know? I think they should work with the stores and figure out a regulation and make it -- you know, whatever needs to happen to make everybody on the same page," he said.
Knapp says he has no plans to close his store at this time, and instead plans to take a more educational approach – he's also ordered more tobacco flavored cartridges in the meantime.
As of October 1, there have been at least 1,000 reported cases of vaping-related lung injury nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seven of those cases come from Washington state. So far, there have been 18 deaths connected to vaping across the country, and health experts are worried this number could rise.
Knapp opened up shop just six months ago, and his entire business revolves around flavored e-liquid.
"I think that the black market and the added ingredients and the non-regulated devices and liquids that were being used are the problem," he said. "It's not the e-liquid and the nicotine industry."
There are 3,844 vape retailers across Washington, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. On the west side, the majority of those shops are in King County, where there are 1,002. Pierce County has 542 vape shops, and Snohomish County has 439.
"When you ban something and there's a demand for it, I think people figure out a way to do it, and that's just going to drive up this black market issue that's going on right now anyway," Knapp said.