NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A rising number of vaping-related deaths and injuries have become part of a growing health mystery nationwide.
On Thursday, Tennessee confirmed its second e-cigarette death in the state.
Now, area retailers are taking a hit.
David Duncan remembers the days of when selling CBD vape pens was buzzing.
“Thirty, 40, 50 a month, and now, maybe it’s 10. Pretty dramatic difference,” said Duncan.
His Music City Hemp Store near the State Capitol is feeling the burn coming from the rising number of e-cigarette outbreaks.
“There’s a lot of hesitation at this point because we just don’t know,” said Duncan.
In addition to the second death statewide, the Tennessee Department of Health reports 57 other serious lung injury cases, more than 1,600 nationwide.
The cause is still under investigation, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leading the charge.
“It really seems to be the additives in the products,” said Duncan. “Most of what I read, it’s THC vapes or flavored e-cigarette kind of things. So it’s the additives.”
So far, no single vape product has been identified as the cause of the outbreak.
The State Dept. of Health has pointed to illegal THC cartridges bought off the street as as common factor.
Duncan said what’s found in those black market products is likely the problem.
“Vitamin E acetate, which has no business being in our lungs,” said Duncan. “In other words, there’s other things that at a vaporized level that are being introduced to the lungs that we just don’t know.”
For those who still want to vape, Duncan recommends looking up the ingredients in the product to make sure they’re safe to ingest.
Second – ask for the supplier and Certificate of Analysis.
Duncan said from the raised awareness and research, he hopes comes regulation and a way for his business to bounce back.
“I encourage regulation and let’s get this right because there is a value to vaping,” he said.
Large retailers like Walmart and Kroger have recently pulled e-cigarettes from store shelves.
Several states have moved forward with vape product bans, but not Tennessee.
Governor Bill Lee has said he’s not ready to call for any e-cigarette bans since there isn’t conclusive evidence about a cause.