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Shop owners, doctors hopeful after CDC finds possible cause of vaping illnesses

Shop owners, doctors hopeful after CDC finds possible cause of vaping illnesses

Jenny Dreasler | News 8

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced a possible development in the search for what is causing vaping-related illnesses and deaths around the country.

The CDC says Vitamin E Acetate could be the culprit behind these vaping illnesses.

Local vape shop owners told News 8 from the very beginning that’s what they thought it was.

Shadi Khoury is the owner and president of Indy E Cigs.

He says he’s relieved as the CDC has finally made a breakthrough in determining what’s causing people to get sick from vaping.

“We had already had this suspicion and I’m glad that we finally found the reason for it,” said Khoury.

But Khoury says while he’s happy progress has been made, the damage has already been done to his business, and says it’s too little too late as many people have already shied away from vaping.

“Vaping Vitamin E acetate is not vaping’s fault. It’s a black market product. It’s irresponsible players in the game. Whether legitimate business owners or in the black market. That bad apples are what caused this,” said Khoury.

The CDC says vitamin e acetate in combination with THC may be to blame for the national outbreak of e-cigarette lung injuries.

Health officials say vitamin E is safe as a vitamin pill or to use on the skin, but inhaling oily droplets can be harmful.

It has recently been used as a thickener in vaping fluid, particularly in black market vape cartridges.

There have been at least 40 deaths nationwide.

Here in Indiana, there are 104 confirmed or suspected cases and three deaths.

Local emergency room doctors say this latest development is promising.

“It’s great to see that maybe we have found something that’s causing this. It’s something we can maybe go after and try and stop. It’s very encouraging. Obviously, there is going to need to be more work up into this and see exactly what’s going on and what’s causing all these unfortunate illnesses,” said Dr. Patrick Hanlon.

As the CDC continues to work, Khoury hopes more is done to crack down on what he calls the bad apples in what’s become a dangerous epidemic.

“I hope that we can put an end to it. I hope that they can find a way to eliminate the black market products and restore people’s health, because it’s unfortunate people have gotten sick and people have passed away as a result,” said Khoury.

CDC officials say the initial findings do not eliminate other ingredients as a cause of harm and more testing need to be done.


2 Columbus police officers arrested, facing charges of misconduct, ghost employment

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Two Columbus police officers have been arrested on multiple charges including official misconduct and ghost employment.

According to Indiana State Police, Dan Meister and Ron May were arrested for allegedly working off-duty security jobs while also working on duty with the Columbus Police Department. An investigation into the officers began in November 2018 after a request was made by the Columbus Police Department.

Lt. Dan Meister and Sgt. Ron May allegedly worked overlapping shifts for both the police department and Columbus Regional Hospital between February 2015 and August 2018. The officers were paid by CPD and the hospital for the same hours worked on multiple occasions.

Meister had overlapped hours on 52 different occasions and May overlapped on 62 occasions, investigators say.

The investigation was turned over to a special prosecutor and arrest warrants were issued for the men on Friday. They were arrested Friday afternoon without incident and taken to the Bartholomew County Jail, police say.

Both officers are facing charges of official misconduct, ghost employment and theft.

May and Meister are expected to face initial hearings soon.

Information about how long they have worked with CPD was not immediately available.