On a normal day, Nic Holden makes $150 selling liquid nicotine out of his car. For the past month, he has been meeting customers in parking lots on Long Island, where they get into the passenger seat with cash in-hand.
He buys the nicotine from what he refers to as “a reputable wholesale nicotine distributor.” Then he measures it out and pre-fills the bottles for purchase, usually ranging from 5-10 milliliters. He spread this business solely through word of mouth and estimates that he already has up to 50 loyal visitors. Holden—a pseudonym that he uses with his clientele—even has a burner phone.
He has had to resort to such a practice because—smuggled into a budget in the early hours of April 3, while most of the state focused on the worsening coronavirus outbreak—New York banned the sale of all flavored vaping products other than tobacco-flavor.
Previously a run-of-the-mill employee in the vape industry, Holden now essentially conducts drug deals. Tobacco harm reduction advocates and drug policy experts have long pointed out that this is an inevitable consequence of bans: Prohibition does not simply erase a product, but instead drives it to an illicit and criminalized market with a bevy of unintended dangers.
Holden isn’t alone. Hundreds of miles north, Sally, a vape shop owner and e-liquid manufacturer in Upstate New York who also required a pseudonym, has been illegally offering flavored vapor products to about 50 of her longtime clients. She moved her e-liquid lab out of her storefront, where a health inspector could potentially find it, and into the arts-and-crafts room in her house, where she can mix in private. She keeps extra coils, mods and tanks in her trunk—like, she said, “something out of a Mafia movie.”
Alex Norcia – Filter Mag – July 8, 2020.