SPOKANE, Wash.- Vaping and e-cigarettes have grown in popularity in recent years, but has been around for over decade. Despite concern over the safety of it, one local vape shop owner said the practice isn't going anywhere.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified six deaths caused by vaping and there are currently 380 confirmed and possible cases of lung disease related to vaping in the U.S.
But Sublime Vapor's general manager Joey Blodgett says the vape products behind this can't be legit.
"Many of them say, 'we have been vaping for years, and this is the first time we are hearing of anything like that.'" Joey said. "There is no way anything legit is causing this."
Blogett sells a variety of e-cigarette products to recreational users, but says a majority of his customers use e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
"We have been open for about six years and we have had a lot of people, and a lot of success stories, of people who have gotten off cigarettes. We have actually had increase just recently, in the last six months of people who vape zero nicotine, so no nicotine at all."
All most all of the products sold at Sublime Vapor are offered with zero milligrams of nicotine. Blodgett said that's about 98% of the brand available.
Whether someone comes to Sublime to find an alternative to smoking or to try vaping for the first time, Blodgett said they take the time to get to know the customer to help them find the right product and ensure they understand how to properly use it.
"People do ask a lot of questions when they come in, and we do qualify a lot of people with questions as well. We figure out how long some one has been smoking, do they even smoke at all, is it their first time, we try to dig deep and get to know them."
Blodgett said a big question many people ask, is if e-cigarettes and vaping is safe.
Blodgett explained that all the products sold in his shops are certified and legal in the U.S. through FDA approval.
He also says that vaping products that have caused illness can't coming from local shops.
"Just about everything has been elicit THC cartridges in Spokane. We have heard it and we have seen it," Blodgett said.
He hopes all the attention on illegal and black market products will send people to shops rather then purchase from somewhere else.
"You shouldn't be buying it [off the street]. I'm hoping it's a wake up moment for those that are buying it, like hey this will kill you, come to an actual vape shop."
As for the customers that do come into the shop, Blodgett said they range in age,with most of the people that walk through the door being over 21 and are looking to break a bad habit.
But Blodgett does see a number of people 18 and older.
Blodgett says they tend to be the ones looking to buy the salt based nicotine products, similar to big names such as Juul.
And he isn't a fan of salt based nicotine and hopes the rise in the legal age to buy them will help deter people from purchasing it.
"Our 18 to 21 years old will obviously be effected, but that just means salts wont be going out. And I'm totally OK with that. I'd rather have traditional things going out. Besides salts are high nicotine and it's just unnecessary. No one needs that much nicotine."
Blodgett says that anyone who comes in looking exclusively to buy salts and high concentrate nicotine products are warned of possibility of addiction.
"Some of these kids are just looking for the [nicotine] high and it's too bad. That stuff is really addictive."
For those going out and using vape products Blodgett has one warning.
"Just be safe and buy from a local retailer, which you should be doing anyways."