Nine people have died due to vaping-related illnesses as of Tuesday, causing lawmakers and President Donald Trump to push for a ban on many flavors of e-liquid.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 530 vaping-related cases of lung injury spanning 38 states and one U.S. territory. The exact cause of the lung injuries is not yet known, and researchers have yet to find a vaping substance linked in all of the deaths, according to the CDC’s website. The CDC has opened an investigation to find the correlation.
Some students say illness from vaping has been a concern for them, and the recent news of a vaping-related death in Indiana has contributed to that.
“My boyfriend’s lung collapsed after vaping for around two to three years,” said Lauren Higginbotham, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts. “He was in the hospital for two days with a tube in his chest, unable to move and barely able to talk.”
After news of the sixth death came out on Sept. 11, the Trump administration said that it wanted to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes.
Kevin Burns, the CEO of the popular e-cigarette company Juul Labs, has stepped down from his position amid the recent vaping related deaths on Wednesday, according to a company statement. Burns will be succeeded by K.C. Crosthwaite, the chief growth officer at Altria, one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of tobacco and cigarettes, the company reports.
A local vaping distributor says it’s also feeling a hit from the reported fatalities.
“The flow of customers in here has decreased because of the news,” said Diego Vellede, an employee at West Lafayette Smoke Shop. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
The loss of customers might also have to do with the cost of the products, not just the deaths.
“Normally the flavors (of vape juices) are $20,” Vellede said. “The vape itself varies from $80 to $100.”
Some people have found it cheaper to switch back to using cigarettes because of cost differences.
“I have friends who went back to cigarettes to stop vaping,” said Ece Ozturk, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts. “It is too expensive. A pack of cigarettes, if you are not smoking the top brand, is like $7 to $8.”
One Juul pod — the best-selling form of e-cigarettes — has as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes, according to the CDC.
“Vaping has made it more likely for young people to get addicted to nicotine,” said Jessica Radwick, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts. “I think it is a problem nationwide.”
Cigarettes have been reported by the CDC to have caused around 480,000 deaths in a year in the United States, and about 16 million Americans currently live with a disease caused by smoking.