Mississauga vape shop feeling the heat after news of vaping-linked illnesses and deaths
Photos by Daniel Calabretta/Government of Ontario

Mississauga vape shop feeling the heat after news of vaping-linked illnesses and deaths

A Mississauga vaping store is taking a hit on sales after headline news about seven vaping-related deaths in the U.S. in recent weeks and an Ontario teen who suffered a vaping-linked respiratory illness that put him briefly on life support.

Robert Murphy, owner of the Mississauga-based Vaporium Canada Vape Shop, said he has seen an 80 per cent decline in business over the past three weeks. “I’m definitely seeing it in the sales,” Murphy told The Pointer on Monday. He claimed “this is due to the misinformation by the media, because the media is only pushing one narrative, and that is to stop vaping. And it’s very dangerous because there are people out there that are going back to smoking cigarettes, when that is a known carcinogen and [a] cancer-causing [agent].” 

Robert Murphy, owner of the Mississauga-based Vaporium Canada Vape Shop

Murphy said he’s hearing concerns from clientele. “I have customers coming in saying, ‘I’m here to buy this, but I’ve heard this and I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.’ And that’s why I’m spending a lot more time in the shop, because I want to be here. I want to educate my customers as to what is actually going on and what is actually making people sick,” he said. 

Earlier this month the Atlanta-based Centres for Disease Control (CDC) warned people to stop using the products while it is investigating the cause of the respiratory illnesses now thought to have affected more than 450 people in the U.S.

The CDC had earlier stated that e-cigarettes — known by a variety of names, including “vapes” and “vape pens,” have “the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant” if used as a complete substitute for ordinary cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products. “While e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people and harm others, scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking,” it noted. 

As to whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes, the CDC said that e-cigarette aerosol generally has fewer toxic chemicals, as opposed to “the deadly mix” of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. “However, e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents,” the CDC notes on its e-cigarettes fact sheet. 

On the same day the first reported case of illness linked to vaping in Canada emerged, last Wednesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott directed all public hospitals to report cases of vaping-related severe pulmonary disease. Canada’s chief public health officer said last week that at least three possible cases are being investigated, but nothing has been confirmed. 

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has taken steps to address potential problems related to vaping

Trillium Health Partners, which includes the Mississauga Hospital, Credit Valley Hospital and Queensway Health Centre, told The Pointer on Monday that, in response to that order, it “will be making changes to how we chart to ensure we are capturing any patients who present respiratory illnesses who may have been vaping,” Trillium’s senior communications advisor, Keeley Rogers, said in an email. Respirologists at Trillium could not comment in time before publication. 

PlanetHaze, a shop that sells vaporizers and accessories, among other things, says it hasn’t seen a major impact on sales amid the recent scrutiny of vaping. “We haven’t felt really anything too big,” said Michael De Francesco, shipper, receiver and cashier at the Mississauga location. “We’ve had people call in and have questions and concerns, obviously, because it was all over the news, because the news is plastering it everywhere right now.” 

Michael De Francesco of PlanetHaze

Vaporium’s Murphy embraced the news that hospitals in the Trillium Health network will start tracking respiratory illnesses tied to vaping. “Absolutely. Do all the science, do all the tracking you need,” he said. “I encourage it, because I know through experience — I smoked for 30 years (a pack and a half a day), and I stopped smoking by using a vape five years ago. And I’ve never felt better. My doctor says I have the lungs of a non-smoker, after smoking for 30 years.”


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