South Jersey stores involved in the vaping business have concerns about a bill, which prohibits the sale or distribution of flavored electronic smoking devices.

The bill is before committees in state Assembly and Senate.

When the bill was introduced, proponents said the existence of these products increases the incidence of tobacco use among children, according to public health experts.

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If the bill passes both chambers of the Legislature and is signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, the bill’s opponents said it will put vape stores out of business.

E-cigarettes heat liquid and turn it into vapor, which a user inhales, and then exhales in a large, puffy cloud, which led to the term vaping.

Vape stores sell the different flavored liquids to be heated.

Kim Betesh, the manager of Hollywood Smokin’ in Northfield, said that from the anecdotal experience that she has had with her customers it is quicker and easier to give up smoking cigarettes by vaping instead.

Seventy percent of the people who use electronic or e-cigarettes do not want tobacco, menthol or clove to be the only flavor of their e-cigarettes.

The legislation calls for e-cigarettes to be sold in only those three flavors.

If that is the case, Betesh believes people will either switch from vaping back to cigarettes or never give up cigarettes in the first place.

“Nobody wants something in the hands of children,” Betesh said. “We shouldn’t market anything for a child. Parents shouldn’t be able to buy it (e-cigarettes) for children. I’m a mom first before I’m a businessperson.”

Current law is the sale or distribution of an electronic smoking device to a person under age 19 is prohibited, exactly like cigarettes.

The bill, which is currently in the Senate’s Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, would restrict what e-cigarettes adults could purchase.

Adam Rubin who runs the Gorilla Vapes franchise store in Egg Harbor Township, said he would be out of business if the State Legislature bills became the law in this state.

“We don’t sell to people under age 19,” said Rubin, who added vaping is less harmful to a person than cigarettes. “You will have 300 stores out of business. … I would be shocked if the governor would put 300 stores out of business and 1,000 workers.”

Rubin’s Gorilla Vapes store sells more than 200 single-flavor e-liquids and another 150 that are a mixture of flavors, Rubin said.

The most popular flavors in Rubin’s store are strawberry and cream, blueberry and melons and brewed awakenings, which is a coffee flavor, he said.

“Nobody buys just menthol. Nobody buys just tobacco,” Rubin said.

Besides the closing of businesses, Rubin said that if the ban on e-cigarette flavors becomes law, people with either order their e-juice from outside of the state or make it themselves in their garages.

“If vaping continues the way it is, in five years, no one will buy cigarettes,” Rubin said. “The only thing that you are doing (with the anti-flavored e-cigarette bill) is stopping law-abiding citizens.”

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Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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