National vape safety debate heating up yet again

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The debate over e-cigarettes and vaping has heated up yet again.

After an outbreak of a severe lung disease affecting users in multiple states, many are left to wonder: Is it time for vaping products to finally be taken off of the market?

Wagdan Mohamed of Stockton Smoke and Vape has seen a decrease in sales after news of the mystery illness first broke. This, he said, is largely due to misinformation spreading in the media.

“People don’t do their research,” he said. “It’s not the vape that is harmful, it’s the oil that’s coming from the black market.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned consumers not to purchase tetrahydrocannabinol oil, also known as THC oil, from street dealers. Officials believe it is likely to be contaminated.

Mohamed said  teenagers are susceptible to buying vaping products from street dealers as it is the easier option for them. They don’t have to worry about being carded or finding someone else to walk into a shop for them.

“They’re going to get their hands on it one way or another,” he said.

According to the CDC, of the 530 reported cases, 16 percent of patients are under the age of 18.

Although vaping is getting a bad reputation due to the recent outbreak, Mohamed is vocal about the good he has seen it do for people.

“There was a customer who had been smoking cigarettes for 40 years, but said this is what helped them to stop,” he said.

Dan Orozco, a sophomore at Delta College, vapes several times a week. He mostly views vaping as an enjoyable activity to take part in with friends.

Like Mohamed, Orozco said it is important for vape users to be cautious of where they purchase their products from.

“People should generally be more aware of what they’re putting into their body,” he said. “Anything that’s classified as a drug shouldn’t be bought off the streets.”

What keeps Orozco going back to vaping is the unique experience it provides. The smoother, cleaner taste compared to marijuana.

“The feeling of it is just different,” he said.

However, it may become more difficult for Orozco and fellow vape users to experience that high.

District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar proposed a plan to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in San Joaquin County at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 10.

Nationally, President Donald J. Trump has expressed desire to ban the sale of flavored vaping products in an effort to encourage young adults to give up the habit.

“The banning of those products should be the least of the President’s worries right now,” Delta College sophomore Denise Ramirez said.

“If the flavored products are banned, it would be a good way to entice much younger people not to start vaping,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference.”