Vape stores impacted by South Bend smoking ban

A 6-3 vote by the South Bend Common Council Tuesday night ultimately led to the passing of a city-wide smoking ban.

It is part of the Comprehensive Clean Air Act and the ordinance will prohibit smoking in bars, bingo and gaming facilities, hotels and motels, stadiums, private clubs, playgrounds, bleachers, and tobacco retail stores.

Also impacted in the city-wide ban are vape shops, like Atmos Vapes in South Bend. “Since we’re a specialty vapor shop, we heavily rely on our sales of liquid and then our hardware and personal vaporizers,” said Co-owner Rose McNamara.

McNamara said that their sample bar is a feature where customers can try different liquids before they ever buy them. Their sample bar is nicotine free but is still impacted by the ban because customers will no longer be able to vape in stores.

“It’s going to be difficult finding a juice that you like. Now you’re going have to walk in and especially if you’re not familiar with vaping, which there is a lot of that," said Ben Homann who often shops at Atmos Vapes.

He said when he first started coming to the store, he often used the sample bar. “They’re always coming out with new flavors so it’s good to be able to be able to try them. That’s how I figured out my favorite,” Homann added.

McNamara said being able to try before buying is appealing to customers and now that it will be prohibited, she fears it could negatively impact business.

“Our customers are more inclined to buy different flavors that they’re able to try. We can still sell the liquid but we just wouldn’t be able to have our sample bars for our customers,” McNamara said.

She said they will work with other stores in the vaping industry to find other ways to stay competitive so ultimately they can stay in business.

Businesses will have until January 2017 to implement the ordinance.

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