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Pioneer Vape Business Crushed

Seven years of helping smokers to quit ended by Vermont officials.

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In 2009, when the seismic shift to vaping began with a trickle of smokers quitting, Adam Tredwell founded Vermont Vapor. It was his mission to bring tasty liquids and quality products to market in order to help tobacco users ditch the weed and remain off it. Just over seven years later and his business has been driven into the ground by officials using state laws to silence businesses and promote ignorance.

Vermont Attorney General Donovan believes in individual freedoms. Well, the freedom to protest about President Trump’s executive order restricting the individual freedom of non-US citizens to travel to and enter America. Vermont Attorney General Donovan certainly doesn’t believe in individual freedom of smokers to access unbiased information about vaping, nor for vape business owners to dispense help for free. He hates that kind of freedom, the kind that saves lives.

Vermont Vapor was the state’s first vape business and grew to be its largest. Adam Tredwell created a range of liquid that was superior to the ones coming in from China. “We provide them with the top rated e-cigarettes in the industry and the highest quality e-liquid on Earth,” he proudly boasted to the local media.

His company took social responsibility seriously. He introduced childproof caps on his bottles six years ago – many companies only embraced that step when forced to by legislation last year.

“I want people to stop smoking,” Tredwell explained in 2015. “The more the industry expands, the more regulation we get. And the worse it’s getting for us.” Many brushed off his warnings, and those from other vendors, as being nothing but a bit of whining. After all, Vermont Vapor was now hitting its stride by generating $24,000 in monthly sales – they could afford a bit of taxation.

But the state was moving in many directions to stamp out vaping as fast as they could. Legislation was drawn up to raise the purchasing age to 21, to restrict flavours, increase a tax rate to 96% of the wholesale price, ban displays in store and restrict places where people could vape. Tredwell couldn’t see the justification for the proposals: “They have no scientific basis for that, and that drives me insane. Where’s the study? If they had that study, I would like to get a look at it.”

All of this was coming on top of the impending moves by the Food and Drug Administration to impose costly registration and licensing – because not everyone was as responsible as Vermont Vapor. They’d already adopted a thorough ingredients listing on their labels; they simply felt it was the decent thing to do; honest education of the customer base was important.

Things were coming to a head by 2016; The proposed tax hike was drafted into legislation that stretched across all vape products, regardless of whether they actually contained nicotine or not. A fellow owner, Edward Dublois warned: “Sometimes we need to consider the greater good. It would be ideal if there was no need for the vape or e-cig industry. However, this is not reality. Cigarettes have and will be around for quite some time. The vape industry has tapped into the means to save cigarette smokers money, decrease their health risks, indirectly lower the burden of cost for their health care, allow them to spend the savings on other goods and services and provide jobs and revenue for the state. This new tax will rapidly extinguish all of this and bring us back to a period before vapes and e-cigs existed.”

So here we are, 2017. It’s a year that many expect to demonstrate a shift in the dominance of the vape market, firmly into the hands of Big Tobacco. Laws have crippled independent businesses from competing and those, like Tredwell, who believe in informing potential clientele face further obstacles.

Last week, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office stated that it intends to seek $50,000 in civil penalties from Vermont Vapor and $10,000 for every breach of settlement agreements – this has included telling people about other vape success stories, giving smoking cessation advice, informing people about the relative safety of vaping, providing free samples, and having inflatables outside the stores.

Adam Tredwell is refusing to play the Attorney General’s game by saying it’s all over. Through the company, he denies any wrongdoing – because he’s done nothing wrong. Instead, Tredwell is opting to close his business. The website only displays discounted T-shirts, the rest of the stock (like the future prospects for many independent vape companies in Vermont) has gone.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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