Local vape shop owner reacts to mysterious illnesses

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LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Lately there has been a lot of controversy surrounding e-cigarettes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at least eight deaths supposedly linked to vaping. Now a vape shop owner in our area wants to challenge those claims.

Lee Kent says he smoked cigarettes for 35 years before he switched to vaping. He opened up his first vape store in 2012, and now owns five from Southport to Wilmington.

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Recent reports by the CDC linking vaping to hundreds of cases of mysterious lung illnesses and at least eight deaths have Kent concerned, both for the vaping industry and for those who rely on vaping products to stay off cigarettes.

“It’s hurt my business,” Kent said. “And it’s hurt the people that work for me, because they’re getting less hours.”

Kent claims in the past seven years, neither he nor his customers have experienced any negative side effects from vaping. He says the products he sells are regulated by the FDA.



Kent believes the recent spike in vaping-related illnesses is being caused by unregulated THC vaping cartridges being sold illegally on the street.

“(The CDC) coupled vaping as I know it, with other types of use of the vaporizer,” Kent said.

The CDC reports most, but not all patients suffering from mysterious lung illnesses have reported using vaping products containing THC.

“We don’t have a single substance, product, additive, or brand that is identified in all of the cases,” CDC Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat told CBS News.

But there is still a need for research on the topic. Public Health England describes e-cigarettes as “at least 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes”. However, some worry it is still too early to understand long term effects.

Although the exact cause of the recent illnesses is yet to be proven, President Trump announced on September 11th that his administration will propose a ban on flavored e-cigarettes to discourage their use.

“Vaping has become a very big business as I understand it, like a giant business in a very short period of time. But we can’t allow people to get sick.”

The CDC is advising people worried about health risks to avoid vaping, but says anyone using e-cigarettes to quit smoking shouldn’t go back to traditional cigarettes.