Small Business

Small vape shops scramble for survival as government, Big Tobacco put up ‘one hurdle after another’

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Chris McGrath doesn’t plan to give up his dream of helping people quit cigarettes by vaping.

But the Harrison vape shop owner is worried the mounting challenges confronting his industry, particularly its smallest players, that could push his and hundreds of other small shops and manufacturers out of business.

“Small businesses like mine, we’re going to be a dying breed,” said McGrath, who opened Octopus Ink Vaping on Freeport Road four years ago. Last year, McGrath added a second store in Plum and expanded to eight employees.

Starting this summer, stringent and costly Food and Drug Administration regulations are set to go into effect that could put nearly all but deep-pocketed vaping “juice” manufacturers out of business, and rid store shelves of nearly anything but nationally distributed products.

“Local places that make their own juices, there’s no way on God’s green earth they could ever possibly meet the standards that the FDA is imposing,” McGrath said.

The looming federal changes follow several years of disruption to a recently burgeoning industry as thousands of small business owners nationwide grapple with the impact of anti-vaping policies, emergency bans and public health alerts.

Chris Hare, co-owner of Nomad Vapors on Route 130 in Jeannette, said he encourages members of the public as well as policymakers with questions or concerns about vaping to visit his shop and ask questions. His hope is to avoid knee-jerk reactions and…


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