BEND, Ore. - Bend's first "vape" shop, a lounge for people to buy and smoke e-cigarettes, opened its doors Friday in Bend, and already has a critic who worries such places will become an attractive lure for minors.
The store, called "Vape Game," has an area for playing video games, drinking soda and energy drinks, and of course, vaping, a term for using an e-cigarette that vaporizes a liquid solution to simulate and substitute for tobacco smoking.
"The main demographic of people that actually stay in the lounge, hang out, play video games, they're anywhere from 18-40," said Brennan Venturi, co-owner of the e-cigarette lounge.
The Bend store at 1620 NE Third Street (above Radio Shack) is the third location for Vape Game (others are in Portland and Springfield, according to its Website - which also checks upon arrival to see if you say you're over 18).
In Connecticut, the governor has signed a law making the Nutmeg State the latest of many to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Miami-Dade County in Florida did the same.
However, in Oregon, it is still legal to sell electronic cigarettes to minors.
Vape Game forbids minors from entering the store or buying e-cigs, both in-store and online.
But Anne Palmer of Customize Your Quit, a Bend tobacco-addition and cessation support group, is still worried that the store's video games and soda will appeal to minors only.
"Well, how many 50-year-olds sit around and play video games and smoke in a shop?" asked Palmer.
Venturi blasted those claims.
He said he doesn't sell to minors, and that the inside of the store is for the "kid" inside of adult smokers.
"The people who own these stores are adults. And you have an adult demographic that wants to get off of smoking," Venturi said. "You don't need to appeal to minors."
For Palmer, store regulation must become state regulation, as it has in nearly 40 other states in the country.
"We do have a governor who's a physician. He's fully aware of how destructive tobacco and tobacco products are to the public's health," she said. "He's aware of that. I wish I knew why he hasn't jumped on board."