Local vape shop owner concerned over possible flavored product ban

ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - The Trump administration has proposed a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping devices in light of a recent outbreak of illnesses.

The owner of Taste-E-Vapes in Ardmore said he is concerned about how a possible ban on flavored e-cigarettes could impact his business.

President Trump along with the FDA commissioner and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the administration will seek to ban all non-tobacco flavored vaping products.

"People think it's an easy solution to cigarettes but it's turned out that it has its own difficulties," Trump said on Wednesday.

The proposal comes from more than 450 recent cases of lung illnesses associated with the use of e-cigarettes in 33 states, according to the CDC, including six deaths.

Chris Osuna has owned Taste-E-Vapes in Ardmore for two years and says he has seen many customers become healthier after taking up vaping.

“But they have got to think about this, there’s a lot of people that are on this juice," Osuna said. "There’s a lot of people there. It has helped a ton of people to get off regular smoking cigarettes.”

And while he agrees children should not have access to vaping products and enforces a strict age policy at his store, he is worried the ban on flavored products will hurt his business.

“I employ several people here," Osuna said. "I’m down at the local church and I’ve got a couple guys that go to our church that work for us. I feel like I don’t want to have to lose those employees. This is what we do.”

Principal James Meece said vaping is a big problem at Ardmore High School, where about 25 students were caught vaping at school this spring.

"They fined them $100 to $200 for each incident and that pretty well shut it down," Meece said.

Meece said he will continue to educate students on the possible dangers of the devices.

"Anything that I believe is dangerous to my kids, I'm going to fight," Meece said.

Osuna said he usually agrees with government policy, but this proposed ban hits a little to close to home.

"You know, when your livelihood could be jeopardized or whatever, it really makes you think 'could you put your trust in the government for this?'," Osuna said.

The Trump administration said it will likely take weeks to enforce the policy as well as give companies time to respond.