The Portland City Council approved the initial reading of an ordinance that would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes by minors – and the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes and liquids used in them to minors – during a June 17 meeting. The ordinance will be initiated if it is approved during a second reading that will be held July 1.
There are two businesses in Portland that specialize in selling e-cigarettes, and the products that are used in conjunction with them. Although the use of e-cigarettes is not federally regulated – meaning manufacturers are free to market and package them to whoever they wish – the owners of both Portland businesses support the proposed ordinance.
Moore Vapor, 708 Moore Ave., and Vaperized, 1500 Wildcat Drive, are both relatively new to Portland. Ryan Malone opened Moore Vapor three weeks ago, while Scott Berendt opened Vaperized six weeks ago.
“I’m all for it,” Berendt said of the ordinance. “I have children here, so I don’t want my kids getting wrapped up in tobacco or any other item.”
Malone said he markets his products to people who are trying to quit smoking, and does not promote their use to people who do not smoke.
“I don’t want my kids getting into it,” he said. “If my son was a smoker, I’d want him to come here. We’re here to help people quit smoking.”
Berendt said he has had problems with minors attempting to purchase his products. He does not sell to people under the age of 18, he said.
“I kick teenagers out every day, and some of them flat out lie to you,” Berendt said. “It’s a fad. A lot of kids think it’s cool to do. When I was younger, I thought it was cool to smoke. This is no different.”
Malone – who also said he does not sell to minors – has not had problems with them attempting to buy his products.
“If stores sell to minors, that hurts the business,” he said. “I put a lot of work into this, and I’m not going to jeopardize that by selling to them.”
The different flavors that are available for use in e-cigarettes may appeal to youths.
“To say the flavors attract them is true, but the flavors also attract adults,” Berendt said. “Tobacco doesn’t taste that good. They want to taste the watermelon and key lime pie.”
Both stores have signs warning minors posted on their entrances. Berendt’s sign reads, ‘Must be 18 to enter,’ while Malone’s sign reads, ‘We I.D.’
“I thought that was sufficient,” Malone said. “But we can put up more (signage) in the future if we need to.”
It is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are not acquiring products they should not be using, Berendt said.
“You can implement a law, but (children) will find a way to get it,” he said. “It’s up to the parents.”
Berendt has spoken with Portland Police Chief Gary Giles and City Manager Randy Wright about the products that are sold at his store, he said.
“They had concerns about this turning into a head shop,” he said. “This one won’t. They know we’re not going to morph.”
Moore Vapor will not supply products that are used in conjunction with marijuana either, Malone said.
“I had one person come in and try to buy that stuff, and I sent him out,” he added.
The vapor that is produced by e-cigarettes can include small amounts of nicotine, the addictive product found in cigarettes. But half of Moore Vapor’s sales – and all of the store’s displays – consist of products that do not include nicotine, Malone said.
“Most of the people that come in here are trying to quit smoking,” he said. “If they want nicotine, they have to ask for it.”
Rob Hernandez quit smoking five years ago, when his wife got pregnant. He now uses e-cigarettes.
“Now, it’s a hobby, and I know everything about (the products) in all the cases,” Hernandez said. “Quitting smoking is the best thing I ever did, and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.”