STILL SMOKING: Shosha vape shop employee Dylan Biggs has no problem with vaping. Photo Mark Rieder D9246-01

WITH the ongoing controversy surrounding vaping, Whakatane vendors have not been heavily impacted by sales losses but say some users are being cautious.

Liam Griffiths, with Coastline Vapes, said he had spoken to many about the issue.

“We’ve had concerns from customers. We’ve been educating people on the topic as best we can,” he said.

Concerns have been raised following 39 deaths in the United States, but this was preceded by another scare.

“People are also concerned about popcorn lung,” Mr Griffiths said.

Popcorn lung is the nickname for bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and irreversible lung disease that can damage airways, resulting in coughing and shortness of breath. This has been attributed to diacetyl.

But Mr Griffiths said manufacturers were removing that chemical.

“They are in very small amounts, even in the cheaper brands from China. With the modern juices sold in vape stores in New Zealand nowadays, there is absolutely none,” he said.

Mr Griffiths said he was confident of the overall safety of vaping.

“I have no difficulty in explaining to people what is actually going on, what the facts are and the misinformation that’s being spread.”

The Corner Shoppe owner Lux Grulambalam said he had not seen a significant drop in customers as a result of the concerns and that none had complained of health issues

“Most of my customers say it helps them,” he said.

Shosha vape shop manager Akshay Kumar, said as with most suppliers, sales dropped slightly when the news first broke. He said the main misperception was that the chemicals that cause popcorn lung never were allowed in New Zealand in the first place.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they were narrowing in on vitamin E acetate as a potential cause of the recent deaths in the United States, with confirmation the chemical was found in all 29 lung tissue samples taken from patients.

University of Auckland professor public of health Chris Bullen told a Science Media Centre forum last month that to his knowledge, no problem had been found in people who vaped brand name e-liquid or pod-based products.

“To my knowledge, no such problem has been documented in anyone in New Zealand to date. Neither the National Poisons Centre nor the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring have reported such cases in New Zealand, at least when I enquired two weeks ago,” he said.

But Dr Kelly Burrowes, of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at the University of Auckland, said at the same forum that the aerosol inhaled when vaping penetrated deep into the lungs and contained a raft of different chemicals.

“There is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that electronic cigarettes come with considerable risks and can no longer be considered as harmless,” he said.

Professor Julian Crane, director of Wellington Asthma Research Group, said at the forum that if e-cigarettes were used as per the manufacturer’s recommendations, the risk of exposure to vitamin E acetate oil was minimised.

“New Zealand vapers not using illegal or home-made products can be assured that this oil won’t be present in nicotine e-cigarettes,” he said.

mark.rieder@thebeacon.co.nz