INDIANAPOLIS — Flavored e-cigarette products may soon be taken off the shelves of vape shops across the country as part of a ramped-up effort by the Trump administration to tackle the epidemic of teen vaping.
William Tillberry, who runs three vape shops in Indianapolis, says he is concerned about the future of his business if the Food and Drug Administration bans all flavored e-cigarette products.
"We would be closed," Tillberry said. "Out of all the products on the shelf, we have two that are just standard tobacco."
Tillberry is aware of the recent outbreak of lung illnesses connected to vaping. But he believes it's not because of the products on his shelves.
"These illnesses that are happening right now aren't from just vaping. They vaped illegal drugs," Tillberry said.
Vape shop owners say people vaping THC products are causing the recent outbreak of lung illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in most cases, patients did report vaping products containing THC, but some did report only using nicotine.
Tillberry wants more regulations on flavored products but not a ban. He worries it would create a black market for the products.
"With a black market, there is no records, no clean rooms, no facilities it's being made in," Tillberry said.
It was a topic being discussed in Indianapolis Friday at the Lung Force Expo. RTV6 talked to an expert with the American Lung Association at the expo about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
The American Lung Association does support banning flavored e-cigarettes.
"Youth are attracted to them. One in five youth are using them regularly," Pat McKone, American Lung Association senior director, said. "These are customers for those Vape shop owners for the future."
McKone said without regulation of e-cigarette products, there is no one tracking what is in them, or how much nicotine they contain.
"These products have been out there and unregulated for far too long," McKone said. "The American lung Association has been calling for regulation for almost a decade, and now we're in a crisis and an epidemic."
The FDA is calling vaping a public health crisis. They say this new policy that will be announced in the coming weeks will be a powerful tool to combat the troubling trend of youth e-cigarette use.
Once the FDA's new policy is complete, any products removed from the market would be able to apply under a similar regulatory path for approval as tobacco products. They will have to meet the same standard set under the Tobacco Control Act.
This all comes as the CDC newly reports 380 cases of lung illnesses in 36 states — and six deaths connected to vaping.
The CDC is still unsure of what is specifically causing these illnesses. The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases.