President Trump's attack on flavored e-cigs has vape store owners in a state of panic
Health officials say at least 6 people have died from lung problems caused by the new wave of vape cartridge products, but store owners in Lincoln and across the country say there's a big misunderstanding about which products are hurting people.
President Donald Trump says the USDA is working on a plan regarding e–cigarettes that could take the products off the shelves.
"We can't allow people to get sick, and we can't have our youth be so affected. And I'm hearing it, and that's how the first lady got involved," The President said.
It comes amid an increase in vaping–related deaths and health problems. Registered vendors say Trump is misguided.
"What we don't talk about is that there's been a 64 percent reduction in juveniles smoking combustible tobacco," Alohma Vapes, Tim Bowen said.
The science disagrees against the public mania.
"Vape oil, it's fine to ingest, it's fine to put on your skin, but once it atomizes, it instantly inflames your lungs, and what these people are doing is you're getting that inflamed effect, but you're still trying to catch the effect of the THC that you maybe paid a lot of money for and you want to get your money worth," Generation V manager, Davey Boardman said.
Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are the compounds which work as the binding agents in nicotine vapor devices. They are alcohol and sugar based, which hold properties that can be consumed by human beings.
"People are using drugs in devices that were never intended to have drugs used in them and the drugs that they're using are not manufactured to be ingested through the lungs. They are, and have been proven to be oil based," Bowen said.
Oil containing products do not hold the same compounds that can be metabolized by a carbon based being like humans, and local store owners say the public confusion has missing links.
"83 percent of cases that have found to be part of the investigation of the illness reported vaping black market THC cartridges. 17 percent haven't gathered the gumption to tell mommy and daddy 'no i was just vaping nicotine, I promise,'" Boardman said.
They say it's black–market products getting people sick – and not the ones sold in stores across the U.S. – and health officials agree.
"You can look in all of the news media stories that are showing pictures of devices like this, but would actually break if you tried to put THC concentrate in them. They're not intended for that purpose, so when it comes to recognizing what products are safe, and what products are not right now that skinny tank, that very slim design is a telltale sign if it was purchased on the black market, you should stop using it immediately," Boardman said.
While they're not concerned about an immediate impact on their business, the stores say the move to ban flavored e–cigs is just the beginning of a larger problem of unfair regulations.
"I'm an adult and when I walk down the candy aisle at Walgreens, I want to be able to choose between strawberry licorice and black licorice," Bowen said, stating that adults are allowed to have a choice in their product.
"You're talking about banning all flavors except tobacco, you're forcing people to take a choice to vape something that they don't find enjoyable or go back to traditional smoking and sentencing them to death," Boardman said.
They say this is a war they have been battling from the start.
"Legislators and the government of the U.S., if they were truly interested in public health, would be more proactive with regard to vaping as opposed to making it the bad guy it has seemed to have been made," Bowen said.
Bowan says that every month, 800 people come to Alohma to try and quit smoking and that vaping is particularly marketed for people that want to quit combustible tobacco. He says that nicotine is a natural substance that is in a variety of local produce like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and broccoli and is no more harmful than caffeine on its own.
The USDA says there have been nearly 500 cases of vaping–related illness.
But again, they, and the store owners, agree that most of those are caused by products containing oil based chemicals that the lungs cannot ingest or break up.