Michigan's ban on flavored vaping products begins, local businesses feel the impact

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Wednesday is the first day of Michigan's temporary ban on flavored vaping products.

The 180-day ban was announced in early September by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, as a way to try to deter kids from vaping.

Whitmer says the flavored liquids are a draw for the youth.

But what is meant to help public health, is hurting local businesses.

One Marquette vape shop has the potential to lose $25,000 worth of product, especially if Governor Whitmer signs an extension on the temporary emergency rules.

"If I can't get that product back on the shelf, it's very detrimental," says Rustic Vapor owner Eric Curtis. "That's probably 75 percent of my total inventory and close to 100 percent of my sales."

Curtis adds that many vapor shops in the area are small, mom and pop shops. Aside from hurting business, it may be hurting customers, too.

"The governor, with the stroke of a pen, basically turned a lot of my customers back to smoking cigarettes which we know will kill you," says Curtis.

One Houghton shop owner is even fighting the ban in court, with hearings continuing on the October 8.

Some states, like Wisconsin, have issued a tax on the vaping liquid.

That tax is seen on the back end, costing suppliers an extra 5 cents per milliliter, or $3 per bottle.

"That tax doesn't really begin until you start to re-purchase products, so what I expect to see in the next couple weeks when stores are starting to re-order stock, that we're going to see increases in prices and things along those lines," says John Nash, Director of Operations at VapinUSA in Green Bay.

But these restrictions have already turned some former smokers back to old habits.

"I've had customers tell me thank you, it's been a good ride, but they already went back to cigarettes," says Curtis.

Curtis says users can still mix their own nicotine concentrations and flavored liquids legally, and his shop will be able to help patrons do so.

He does advise against ordering these products on the black market - the source of many lung illnesses seen in recent weeks.

"Don't do that because that's when you start mixing the oils that we've seen on the black market, the oils and the thickeners that are causing these lung diseases," says Curtis.

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