Vape store owner says ban would hurt industry

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Vape Escape owner Theseus Mendiola points out that vaping is already illegal when it comes to teens, much like cigarette smoking, and a ban could have negative consequences.

It was announced today by the Wall Street Journal that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be imposing a regulatory ban on flavored vaping products, an initiative supported by the Trump Administration. But how will this affect Guam?

The ban was proposed by the Trump administration whose goal is to limit the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products by teenagers amid recent reports of deaths related to illicit vaping of black market THC vaping products.

But as local Vape Escape owner Theseus Mendiola points out, vaping is already illegal when it comes to teens, much like cigarette smoking, and a ban could have negative consequences.

“What that will mean for Guam and a lot of businesses in the U.S.? We carry 99.9 percent fruity flavors. A lot of us vapers we don’t want tobacco flavors. We are getting away from that and that’s the whole purpose behind this. If we ban flavors, I guarantee that all the shops will close down. We would lose all our employees, our jobs, and any monies we are contributing to the government through our taxes,” Mendiola said.

The Wall Street Journal reports that there will be two exceptions to the ban, permitting the sale of menthol and tobacco flavored vapes. But Mendiola believes that the ban has more to do with big tobacco companies losing money than it has to do with health.

“In 1998, there was an agreement called the MSA or the Master Settlement Agreement. Many of us in the vape industry have pointed to this as a reason why the Trump administration is proposing a flavor ban,” Mendiola said.

The MSA was made between 48 states and territories including Guam which would prevent big tobacco companies from being sued by states for any health-related illness as a result of cigarettes in exchange for money to be paid annually to the government.

In 2001, Guam stood to receive $24 million with the immediate execution of the MSA, according to a letter from then Guam Economic Development Authority Administrator Ed Untalan.

“The U.S. government is looking to ban flavored vape products because the bonds the states sold based on their projected money anticipated to be received annually by big tobacco companies is diminishing as more people move to e-cigarettes,” Mendiola said, adding that there has been a steady decline in tobacco sales by 3 percent annually and this is projected to reach 64 percent in the near future.

But if the root of the ban is to keep it out of the hands of youths, he says the government needs to start looking towards the black market and social media which he believes is predominately where teens are getting vape products.

Mendiola says legislation should instead be made to only allow vape products to be sold at adult establishments where individuals must be 21 or older to enter.

Local legislation was recently passed into law amending the Natasha Act which prohibits vaping within 20 feet of the entrances of establishments.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.