EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Local retailers say the national spotlight on the vaping industry has created a massive cloud of confusion for their customers and their stores are getting lost in the smoke. Some businesses say Walmart’s announcement is only making the fire more difficult to put out.
After the CDC confirmed an eighth person has died from a vaping-related lung disease. Walmart announced they are pulling all e-cigarettes from their shelves. The move comes after President Trump said he wants to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
“For the most part, everyone is mainly blaming companies like JUUL that actually market towards kids,” said Arthur Cuevas, Puff ‘N Stuff Stuff Manager.
Evansville businesses, Puff ‘N Stuff and Vapor Bank are fighting the negative stigma covering the industry in a cloud of vapor.
“The sad part is we’re getting a bunch of publicity that doesn’t have anything to do with us. Vaping as been around here in the US for 15 years and we’ve never once heard of or had any issues of anybody getting sick or having any issues with it,” said Cuevas.
“When I started in 2012, it was with the goal of helping people. Since then, my business and my product has been villainized. I know I’m not a bad person, I know what I’m selling is okay, but all of the media almost makes me feel ashamed to say I’m in this industry now,” said John McCullough, Vapor Bank Owner.
With doctors, politicians and PR firms putting in their two cents, local vape shops say their customers don’t know what to believe.
“There’s been a lot of confusion. The federal agencies and the state agencies aren’t being deliberately misleading, they’re just struggling with the terminology of our industry,” said McCullough.
One manager says the confusion comes from a lack of consumer education about the various forms of vaping and product potency levels.
“I know customers that have completely switched away from cigarettes and went from smoking 4-5 packs a day to where they don’t smoke at all now. Some even quit vaping after they got off the cigarettes. So it’s not necessarily a forever thing for everybody,” said Cuevas.
According to a New York Times study, vaping among teenagers has more than doubled in the last two years with 1-in-4 high school seniors reporting they had vaped within the last thirty days.
(This story was originally published on September 20, 2019)