LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The number of vaping-related illnesses continues to soar, and the CDC believes THC-related products are to blame.
Thursday, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention announced that 530 people have experienced lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products.
The number of deaths is now up to seven.
A local business owner, who sells nicotine products, said Thursday that the information has caused a huge drop in sales, but more importantly, it’s causing people to go back to cigarettes.
“I started Derb E City Cigs to help other people quit smoking, and that’s it,” owner Troy LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc is also the president of the Kentucky Smokefree Association.
Over the years, LeBlanc said he has seen the conversation over the e-cigarette industry change.
While it began as a healthy alternative to help people quit cigarettes, the conversation has shifted to concerns over flavored products, and now dangerous THC products on the underground market.
And that’s where the recent trouble started. The CDC is now attributing the rash of illnesses and deaths in the past few months to vaping products. CDC officials believe most of the products have contained THC, but haven’t said for sure.
“Our customers are going back to cigarettes because they’re afraid that their vaporizers are all the sudden after 10 years going to kill them,” LeBlanc said. “Just our stores alone, we are seeing $18,000 (per week) in business going back to smoking cigarettes.”
His stores, though, don’t even sell the THC cartridges, and the CDC believes it’s mostly those products that are causing sickness.
“It’s unfortunate because we know cigarettes cause cancer, and we also know that vaping is 95 percent safer,” LeBlanc said.
While the CDC believes it’s something in the THC products causing the outbreak, the long-term impacts of vaping with nicotine aren’t known yet.
“My recommendation is if you have an illegal THC vaping cartridge, throw them away because it’s not worth it,” LeBlanc said.
Breaking down the CDC data a bit,
Sixteen percent of the people with vaping illnesses are younger than 18 years old, and 67 percent are people 18 to 34, according to the CDC. Almost three-fourths of the cases involve males.