OTTUMWA — While the Iowa legislature considers a proposed ban on public vaping, one local business is watching closely.
Don Gier of Smokin’ Hot, which sells vaping products and cigars, said he doesn’t expect the move to have a huge effect on business. “I think business like ours will be exempt just like having businesses that have cigarettes and cigars have lounges if that’s a majority of their business.”
The proposal would bring vaping products under the auspices of Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act. The measure banned smoking in most public locations like offices and restaurants. Vaping and e-cigarettes would be banned in the same way.
Gier said he has seen a shift in public perception of vaping since reports of serious lung injuries began cropping up in 2019. Reports show at least 2,500 people nationwide have been hurt. The Centers for Disease Control counts 57 deaths from such injuries as of last week.
To Gier, there’s a key point that often goes unnoticed. The injuries have primarily, though not exclusively, been to people using vaping products that include THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Those, he noted, are illegal in Iowa.
“I’d like to see more distinction made,” he said.
While Gier said he would prefer not to see government restrictions on what businesses can or cannot allow on principle, he did not see the proposal from Iowa health officials as a major threat to business. The same cannot be said of the American Medical Association’s call for a complete ban on vaping and e-cigarettes.
“I don’t want anyone who doesn’t smoke to start vaping,” he said, but the current evidence suggests the risk associated with vaping is significantly lower than that posed by cigarettes.
For now, Gier said he will keep an eye on the proposal, and believes Iowa’s vaping industry will do the same.