United States health officials announced three deaths today they say are related to vaping.
It’s the latest in a string of illnesses reported across 33 states.
Health officials say there are now at least 450 possible cases of severe lung disease that could be caused by vaping.
That includes one death in Illinois.
Researchers haven’t pinpointed which chemical may be causing the sometimes-deadly reaction.
Some are now encouraging people to stop using e-cigarettes until investigations are complete but one local businessman says that might be an overreaction.
Todd Smith has been selling vaping products for seven years and owns six vape shops across the Quad Cities Area.
“All of our e-liquid that we get, are all from reputable factories, reputable labs, they’re clean labs,” says Smith, The Vaporosity Shops, Inc. owner.
With the recent rise in vaping-related illnesses– and even death, he says both customers and the public need to understand the differences.
“Am I going to vape an e-cigarette or am I going to vape THC? So, it’s lumped under one umbrella, but we specialize in vaping nicotine. There’s no THC,” says Smith, who has been vaping for 12 years.
Although health officials haven’t pinpointed one chemical that links all vaping-related illnesses, they say THC could be one common factor.
Smith also blames the black market, where underage customers could be getting tampered THC.
“It scares the heck out of me,” he says.
“If somebody packages a THC product, they’re not going to get it tested, they’re not going to say, ‘Hey are you a reputable guy or gal that’s selling this to me?”” says Smith.
Customer Tamy Mitchell agrees.
“They’re mixing something in there like they did with the Tide Pods or anything,” says Mitchell, who’s been vaping for three years now.
Both Mitchell and Smith traded traditional cigarettes for e-cigarettes.
They don’t plan on turning off their devices any time soon.
“Weaning off the other, quitting the other, moving onto this to you can move onto just nothing. If it helps, it helps,”Mitchell says.
“Not one person, in the thousands of people I’ve seen walk through our doors and start vaping has come back in and said, ‘I was in the hospital because I vaped and my lungs collapsed,’ or ‘I got a horrible lung disease from a product you sold.’ I haven’t heard that across the industry,”” Smith says.
It’s important to note that health officials say THC is one of several factors that they are investigating right now.
Smith says for now, he won’t be buying any new products and instead sticking with the brands he’s been selling for years and hasn’t had any problems with.
If you experience any unexpected health or product problems from vaping, the FDA wants you to report it through its online safety reporting portal.