Local vape shops react to new warnings from health officials
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Before President Donald Trump announced a proposed ban on flavored e-cigarettes, the FDA and CDC issued differing warnings on what exactly consumers should avoid. On Friday, the CDC said to stop using e-cigarettes altogether, while the FDA urged users to avoid THC containing vaping products.
While it’s still too early to pinpoint the exact cause behind the mysterious lung disease linked to vaping that’s killed at least six people, Molly Sylvester, CEO of Vapin’ in the 619 says confusion leaves industry owners feeling misunderstood.
“It’s been very sad to watch that they are not putting that on the front lines so the general public knows what to avoid and how many people are continuing to get sick because the headlines are focusing on e-liquid,” Sylvester said.
This store owner says the warnings and recent headlines aren’t focusing on what she feels is the root cause to recent cases.
“If they were to look at when this started, where it’s happening and the people it’s happening too—the common denominator is that they are using THC products that includes the Vitamin E Acetate,” Sylvester said.
These are products, she says, that cannot be found in legitimate vaping stores, but instead are being sold off the black market or online.
“We have all been required to register our e-liquid with the FDA so they are clear what our ingredients are,” Sylvester said. “We don’t sell THC. It’s an ingredient used to dilute it so that it becomes vapable.”
Many are afraid that banning e-cigarettes could take a healthier alternative away from people who trying to quit smoking cigarettes.
“I want to smoke cigarettes again so I’m coming to get the non-nicotine vape so that I have something to replace that urge with,” says Makayala Basile, a customer at Vapin’ the 619. “You know I have rights. This is something I want to do, and it’s keeping me from smoking which is really what’s going to kill me at the end of the day.”
Sylvester agrees. She says if they are going to put a ban on vaping or e-cigarettes, they should eliminate all tobacco products along with it.
County health officials agree that consumers have a right to purchase and use certain products, but the concern falls into the mysterious deadly lung disease that federal agencies have not yet identified the root cause of.
“Using a cigarette or tobacco, is a personal choice as is this, vaping is a personal choice,” says Dr. Wilma Wooten, a public health officer for San Diego County. “But what we’re seeing is something that we have not seen before, which is the acute development of severe pulmonary disease which is causing patients to be hospitalized.”
She says an inconsistency in the products that were reportedly causing problems for patients is why it is too soon to say what is causing the deadly outbreak.
“The devices aren’t consistent; the oils aren’t consistent. So, there is really a lot of information we just don’t know yet,” Wooten says. “Most of the cases have been documented to be THC or CBD, only 10% is nicotine only, but again there is a lot of variability case by case.”
It’s due to a number of unknown factors still being investigated by the CDC and FDA that leaves health officials to warn the public to err on the side of caution.
“The CDC is recommending that until its clearly defined what’s causing this they are asking individuals to not vape,” Wooten said. “If they are going to vape, they are asking people to obtain their devices and their product from a reputable source.”
Wooten said in San Diego, 12 cases have been reported from people ranging in age from 17-years-old to 70-years-old. On the state-wide level, the first death was reported in Los Angeles on Friday. Anyone who experiences any negative side effects from vaping is urged to contact medical officials and report the problem immediately.