ANDERSON — Aaron Goodson had something remarkable happen within the first two months after he opened Vintage Vapors, LLC. on the city’s north side.
“Within two months the business was supporting itself,” said Goodson, 34. “That was very unexpected.”
An outbreak of lung injuries among teens and a warning issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the use of e-cigarettes and vape products, however, has caused a downturn in business for the new entrepreneur.
“With any new business it’s slow going at first,” Goodson said who has been open for five months at the 2407 Broadway location. “It wasn’t until about a month and a half ago that it started declining. Ever since then, people are saying vaping is killing people. It’s not vaping.”
Goodson said he has personally used vape products for about eight years and the industry in Indiana is heavily regulated on what products can be sold or produced.
“It’s not the legitimate vape juice sold in a shop that is hurting people,” Goodson said.
He said the lung illness is caused by the use of illegal products people use that coat the inside of lungs and preventing them from functioning properly.
Jenny Ingram, owner of Vapor Madness, 4742 S. Scatterfield Road, is seeing a similar downturn in business.
“These teens aren’t dying or getting sick from what we are selling,” she said. “It’s not from anything sold in vape shops in Indiana. They are dying from the underground black market — illegal THC cartridges.
“It’s extremely sad — reading the paper and watching the news — it is hurting our business.”
Ingram said the products sold in Indiana are water based, not the oil base products linked to several of the teens who have died nationally.
“The unfortunate part of this is the CDC should come on and say you should not vape illegal THC cartridges,” she said. “And you definitely don’t want to go back to smoking, but they are saying you should stop vaping everything.”
Libby Martin, a youth coordinator for Intersect, Inc., said there is not enough information for anyone to determine the safety of vaping, especially given the recent death of people who have used vape products.
“In my opinion it’s very dangerous,” she said. “I was just pulling up the statics from the Indiana State Department of Health and they are investigating 75 individuals for acute respiratory illness and three people have died.
“They don’t even have a name for it because it’s so new.”
She said a majority of the deaths have been linked to vaping THC, but there is a percentage of people with the lung illness who insist they did not use THC.
“The most important thing we can say is we don’t know,” Martin said. “We don’t know. It’s an ongoing CDC investigation. Personally? I wouldn’t want to risk it.”
She said until the CDC can pinpoint what is causing people to have died, they are asking people to stop using vape products.
“People need to listen to more than just the people selling the product,” she said.
Martin said vaping has not been linked to helping people quit smoking and the nicotine in vape products is harmful to developing fetuses, is addictive and “messes with brain chemistry.”
Withdrawal symptoms from vaping products with nicotine include anxiety, irritability, headache, depression, insomnia and sweating.
Goodson said he would like to see the age of smoking or vaping raised to 21 and he would turn someone away from his business looking to use vape products for the first time.
“If someone comes in and says I don’t smoke, but I want to vape I’m going to tell them the best thing you can do is turn around and walk out,” he said. “Don’t start something you don’t already have a habit of doing. If you don’t smoke or chew, I’m going to tell you I would rather not sell you anything.”
Goodson said he tinted his windows to prevent teens from seeing his customers hang out in a lounging area to vape.
“I do not want teens or younger kids looking in here to see and think it looks really cool,” he said. “No it’s not. There is a reason it’s called Vintage Vapors. My aim is 30 plus.”