The recent news regarding lung problems and death from vaping has several store owners annoyed because, they claim, one important piece of information either goes unreported or is overlooked.
Most of the lung problems can be traced to marijuana, specifically the psychoactive ingredient THC.
“It’s fear mongering,” said Fred Deen, owner of Smoke Depot & Vapor Lounge in Valencia. “Media’s just making people afraid. Our politicians just want to do something that looks good on TV. They’re just banning everything. Why don’t you just ban vaping THC, man? Why are you jumping on the vaping nicotine that isn’t hurting anyone? Of course it is stupid. Of course we are against it, but what can you do?”
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that much of the lung illnesses linked to vaping products are from THC cartridges purchased illegally. NBC News had a similar report two weeks ago that said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is looking into THC laced with Vitamin E acetate, a solvent used to help cannabis work in vape pens, as a primary cause.
Vaping, two store owners said, is not killing people but is a method to stop smoking.
“It’s made for cigarette smokers that don’t want to smoke anymore and wean themselves off nicotine,” said one owner who refused to be identified for fear of economic and possible physical reprisals. He said his stores carry cartridges of varying amounts of nicotine, the idea being one uses decreasing amounts until they’re weaned entirely.
Many of his estimated 250 clients are on the program using vaping to reduce nicotine, with varying degrees of success. He, for one, was a smoker but has seen his energy levels in the gym increase since switching to vaping; although he also admits he hasn’t seen a doctor.
“Hundreds of them switched, and then they stopped smoking,” he said. “They all want to quit smoking. Some do, some don’t.”
He said education is critical, and he and Deen quoted and referred to several studies and articles that demonstrate how much safer – though not completely safe – vaping is.
According to the Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine, vaping is using an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) to simulate smoking but without burning tobacco. The tool is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer; hence, the name “vaping.”
The user has an inhaler with a heating element that synthesizes a liquid solution made of several ingredients including nicotine but not tobacco. What is expelled is water vapor, not smoke.
The benefits and risks are uncertain because no long-term studies have been done, but the store owners know this: Smoking anything is harmful, but Public Health England, an agency of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, said vaping is 95-percent less harmful than cigarette smoking.
PHE also found that between 65 and 68 percent of smokers who tried quitting via vaping succeeded. The New York Times reported that two UK hospitals have allowed an e-cigarette company to open vape shops on their premises.
The store owners also know minors are drawn to vaping products, especially the flavored ones, and they said they refuse to sell to them. Deen said he knows the industry is willing to have technology implemented that would prevent anyone under age 21 from entering a store.
“I understand it’s bad, whether for kids or adults. They shouldn’t be doing it. I’m 100-percent sure kids should not be using it,” the unnamed store owner said. “I know for sure it’s way better than regular cigarettes.”
Added Deen: “It’s like you found bad lettuce in the sandwich and you’re banning the sandwich. This is like a nightmare.”