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Two more Hoosiers died from vaping-related illnesses, local vapers react

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — Two more Hoosiers are dead after severe lung injuries linked to vaping.

Vaping businesses remain confident in their products while anti smoking advocates say beware of disinformation.

People continue to vape, despite 26 people across the country dying from vaping-related illnesses.

“I know lots of people who vape so this is very shocking to hear something is going on. And I personally really do think it’s something illegal,” vaper Harmony Randall says.

Nicotine in vaping products is not illegal.

But in Indiana, vaping cartridges that contain THC, the chemical in marijuana, are illegal.

The general manager of Village Vapors says research by the Centers for Disease Control found that about three-quarters of the vaping illnesses were connected to vaping cartridges filled with THC and mixed with vitamin E oil, something he says is not used in nicotine cartridges.

“The black market THCs are laced with a chemical called vitamin E acetate, which when vaped it essentially turns into acetone. Which is a caustic material and is going to cause chemical burns in your lungs,” Alex Lackey says.

“The reality is we can’t jump to any conclusions. It looks like yes, there is a big role that THC products and especially illicit THC products are playing in this. Is that the only thing? We don’t know yet,” Nancy Cripe says.

Cripe is executive director of Tobacco Free Allen County.

She says the vaping industry needs oversight and should be regulated because the ingredients vape providers tout as harmless might not be.

“I don’t know how long artificial food flavorings have been used, but they’re safe for the digestive system. We don’t know what they do when they’re inhaled into lungs,” she says.

Lackey says vaping should only be used as a way to quit smoking, by gradually reducing the amount of nicotine a person inhales.

“I honestly think this is the best way for smokers to make that transition off of nicotine altogether. It’s not meant to be a lifestyle, it’s not meant to be glorified and turned into a culture. It’s meant to be a stepping stone to get people off of nicotine dependence,” Lackey says.

In the meantime, the CDC continues to investigate what’s causing the mysterious illnesses that seem to come from both nicotine and THC vaping materials.

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