BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Just four days into new regulations on e-cigarettes and nicotine, Boulder vape shops are having mixed results in figuring out how to operate. On Monday, one shop saw normal business due to a loophole and another told CBS4 it was making the decision to close.
The new rules, enacted last week, include a flavored nicotine ban, a nicotine tax and raising the purchase age to 21.
Despite the flavor ban, the wall at Red Star Vapor on Arapahoe Road was full of various flavored products. District Manager Katie Godsil, who oversees the Southwestern U.S. chain’s Colorado stores, said most customers prefer them.
“For every ten customers that come into our store, I would say nine, if not all ten, are going to be buying some sort of flavor,” Godsil said.
Currently, the chain store is the only business in Boulder able to sell flavored e-cigarette products. It’s all because of an unintended loophole left by city council.
According to City Attorney Tom Carr, the new ordinance specifically involves flavored nicotine. At Red Star Vapor, customers can buy the unflavored nicotine base-product separately from the flavoring and combine them at home.
“You’re going to basically pour this bottle, pour this bottle, shake it up really good,” Godsil explained to a customer.
Red Star has offered the DIY flavoring option for more than three years now. According to Godsil, it gives customers, many of whom are trying to quit smoking cigarettes, more flavor options.
“We weren’t really trying to find a loophole, we just had it already and it kind of worked out in our favor,” Godsil said.
Carr tells CBS4 Boulder City Council can’t anticipate everything when making new regulations. In this case, the oversight on flavoring, was the latest example.
City Council can amend the ordinance to close the loophole. According to Carr, that likely won’t happen until after new members are sworn in this fall.
“It would be scary, it would be hard, we might even have to close down,” said Godsil. “We would do everything under our power to stay here.”
Across town, Boulder Vapor House doesn’t have the same products and can’t take advantage of the same loophole. On Monday, owner Ginger Tanner confirmed she would be closing the business by the end of the month.
Tanner blamed the closing on the flavored product ban and called her business “collateral damage” in relation to city council’s decision.