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Vape shop owners fear going out of business if flavor ban law is signed

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Lawmakers have passed a bill banning flavored electronic cigarette products, sending it to Gov. Phil Murphy for approval. But the bill has many vape shop owners worried that it could put them out of business.

“There’s no way I can survive just on tobacco flavors,” says shop owner Vincent Mattia.

Mattia says that for the last six years he has sold many products in his Point Pleasant Beach store to legal-aged adults looking for alternatives to cigarettes.

“We don’t sell to kids. We sell to adults. The solution is to let adults have it,” he says.

RELATED: Lawmakers advance vape flavor ban; bill heads to Murphy for signature 
RELATED: Piscataway passes ordinances to restrict vape sales 

Legislators say that the bill is needed to keep minors from becoming addicted to nicotine products. But Mattia says that he disagrees.

“The real killer is cigarettes. They kill 480,000 Americans every year. But there’s no problem there. There’s a money issue,” he says. “They took menthol cigarettes off the ban because the state was afraid of losing $540 million in taxes. This isn’t about public health. It is about money.”

If the governor signs the bill, it will go into effect within 90 days. Mattia and other store owners say that they hope in that time a compromise can be reached to both better monitor the age of users and at the same time keep stores open for legal adults.

Legislation to regulate vape products gained momentum last year after people were sickened by a lung disease associated with e-cigarette use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked down the cause of most of those cases to a chemical known as vitamin E acetate found in “illegal” vaping cartridges containing THC.

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