Laurie Jay, seeing a business opportunity here in Franklin, has opened up Smoky Mountain Vapor on West Palmer Street across from Radio Shack. With pending regulations, Jay is concerned about the future of her business.
“I think it is sad that the government is, once again, trying to regulate, manipulate and tax something that they see simply as an additional revenue source for our already bloated government,” said Jay. “Vapor cigarettes obviously should not be sold to anyone under the age of 18, but vapors are helping not harming.”
Jay became interested in "vaping" after learning of the believed health benefits the electronic cigarettes have over regular cigarettes. “I learned about vapor cigarettes from my daughter who moved to Missouri and was introduced to 'vaping' by a friend,” said Jay. “She was a smoker and it upset me greatly because everyone knows the dangers of smoking. She was able to quit smoking completely in just a few days by switching to vapor cigarettes. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals, 69 of which are proven carcinogens. Vapor smoke contains only four ingredients - Propolyene glycol, (food grade), vegetable glycerine, flavorings and nicotine.”
Smoky Mountain Vapors sells e-cigarettes, vapor cigarettes, juices (e-liquid), parts and accessories. “I try to add new products every month to keep up with the growing variety of vapors and MODs being produced,” she said. “I am also stocking parts for the many vapor cigarettes that are already available for purchase. My ejuices are U.S. made, purchased from two different manufacturers, one in Hendersonville and one in Morganton. I currently have over 40 flavors as well as a tasting bar where you can sample all the flavors I carry.”
Jay, and others who have ventured into the e-cigarette industry are not just looking to turn a profit, they believe their product can help people. “My customers come to me almost daily with their stories of how they have either drastically cut down on their cigarette consumption or quit completely - many times within 24 hours of getting their vapors,” said Jay. “The current cost of vaping is approximately one fourth the cost of smoking. The government is not concerned with anyone's health, all they see are tax dollars. Tobacco companies are seeing their sales diminish, which in turn causes revenue loss from the loss of the massive taxes imposed on all tobacco products.”
The FDA’s original comment period was scheduled to end on July 9, but because of the response from the public, it was extended another month. While the FDA is contemplating federal regulations, individual states have started to take action to speed up the process. Just last week San Francisco Congresswoman U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier introduced legislation that would place the same regulations on ecigarettes that currently exist for typical tobacco products.
Thirty-eight individual states have placed regulations on the products such as prohibiting the sale of e-cigs to minors and banning the use of the e-cigs in public places. Some states including North Carolina are moving to tax the industry. In May, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a measure into law that would add a 5 cents tax to each milliliter of the nicotine liquid used in the e-cigarettes.
Between federal and state regulations and taxes, Jay is worried that her efforts to offer a better alternative to traditional tobacco may soon be stopped. “Instead of looking the the potential massive savings in heath care costs, they [the government] are focused on the loss of tax dollars from reduced tobacco sales. Vapor cigarettes are nothing more than a potential money maker for them. They don't care about facts, they care about funds and how much they can take from every productive American citizen.”