Health concerns frustrate vape store operators

Vaping controversy plaguing businesses

INDIANAPOLIS ( WISH) — The Indiana State Department of Health is currently investigating 50 vaping-related cases. Seventeen vaping-related illnesses have been confirmed in the state as well as one vaping-related death.

While these numbers are certainly alarming, local vape shop operators say the numbers are also raising some questions. The number one question being: where are the people who are coming down with these vape-related illnesses buying their products and what is in them?

Indy Vapor Shop general manager Jami Rakes says she is frustrated.

“What is happening now, our industry is being attacked for something that has happened on the black market, it doesn’t really have anything to do with what we sell on a daily basis to people that want to quit smoking cigarettes,” said Rakes.

The products at Indy Vapor Shop have a list of the ingredients that are inside the e-liquid, which is something she says is important to both the store and its customers.

“So we are not buying e-liquids that are made in someone’s bathtub or kitchen sink,” said Rakes. “They are legitimate liquids made in very nice ISO facilities and they are very safe.”

News of the number of vaping-related illnesses has affected business for these shops.

“Yeah actually I was concerned. I have had some friends that kind of told me about it and I looked more into it,” said Ulysses Hawkins, who has been vaping for four years.

He said he was concerned until he researched the products he was using, and their ingredients to find they did not include harmful ingredients.

“We have lost at least 50 percent of our business right now due to the scare on e-liquids, flavored e-liquids and everything,” said Rakes.

Rakes says the ingredients that are used in black market e-liquids and THC cartridges have a lot to do with the illnesses that are popping up. She worries bans on e-liquids and vape products is only going to make the issue worse.

“I think it is going to create a huge black market. It is going to be even worse than it currently is,” Rakes said.

Rakes says she feels some legislators are trying to regulate the vaping industry out of business. Meanwhile, nothing is being done to ban cigarettes, which according to the CDC kill more than 480,000 Americans each year.

Some people who vape say they wouldn’t mind better regulation, but they prefer regulation that wouldn’t put them out of business and would allow stores and customers to ensure the products they are selling are safe.

“If they were to I guess just break everything down in terms of what is actually in it as far as the ingredients made with the vape would probably help people a little bit better,” said Hawkins. “It is just kind of like going to the grocery store, seeing what you are buying, right.”

On Tuesday, Massachusetts ordered a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products. Other states have banned flavored e-liquids.

In Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb issued a statement in regards to flavored e-liquids that reads in part “We’re taking a very deep dive on this. We are at war with addiction in general. So I don’t want to leave any stone unturned that’s going to work. I want to be productive, not counterproductive.”