Some vape products could disappear from Louisiana shelves under new law

Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 4:35 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Baton Rouge judge refused to grant a temporary restraining order to halt the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) from stopping the sale of specific vaping products.

This means some vape products will no longer be available across the state if they are not on the ATC’s approved list of 400 products. Among those not included in the list are popular brands like Elf Bar, Puff Bar, and EscoBar. A lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Convenience and VAPE Store Association is still pending.

“A lot of people have come in and are stocking up on things because they are worried it could go,” said Jeffery Wells, store manager at Simply Cannabis.

Wells said business is steady despite a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Louisiana’s new vape law.

“People come in here everyday for it and they’re switching from cigarettes to this,” Wells said. “Some are weaning down, but it also just gives you a wider range for your flavor.”

This past session, the Louisiana lawmakers passed House Bill 635, authored by Representative Paul Hollis of Covington. The bill amends a state tax put in place on vape products. The ATC launched a registry called the V.A.P.E. Directory, which contains all of the products that have been approved for sale in Louisiana.

“I mean there’s almost no regulation whatsoever,” Hollis said. “I mean you can open up a box from China and you never know if was it a bucket mixed with chemicals and fragrances and they put them on the shelves and sell it. I mean if that doesn’t cause you a great deal of fear I don’t know what does”

Wells believes the state’s new law could be detrimental to stores focusing solely on vape products.

“Luckily we have [the cannabis] side, but I know a lot of the vape shops around New Orleans, especially if they’re just vape shops, will close because this is most of their business,” Wells said. “It would be sad to see all of these businesses close and all of these people out of a job all of a sudden.”

Hollis said the state’s vaping law is about protecting kids who are targeted by tobacco companies.

“Some of the different products, the smells, the flavors, the names of the products like an Elf Bar, it just screams ‘we’re trying to market these products to kids,’” Hollis said.

The ATC will have 32 agents dispersed throughout the state to enforce the new law.

Ernest Legier, Commissioner of the ATC said, “Generally, a tobacco permitted business would experience a compliance action by virtue of annual inspections, compliance checks with underaged operatives, or as a result of a complaint. Violations can result in fines, permit suspension, or permit revocation. Illegal sales can be costly as the agency can assess a fine for each illegal product available for sale. The directory is a fluid document and will be updated quarterly to reflect the current universe of approved products.”

It’s unclear when a judge will rule on an injunction to stop the ban of certain vape products.

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