Vape shop owner reacts to first vape-related death in Indiana

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The Indiana State Department of Health has recently released it’s first vape-related death report.

Cozmic Clouds Vape Shop owner/manager Matthew Fitzthum said he believes the problem isn’t with vaping, but the use of THC.

“They have to do with illegal THC cartridges,” he explained. “They have nothing to do with vaping in the traditional sense that it’s a smoking alternative.”

The Center for Disease Control said in a statement that many patients, but not all, reported recent use of THC containing products.

However they said it is too early to pinpoint a single cause to this death.

Thirty cases of severe lung injury are being linked to vaping in Indiana, with the majority of individuals ages 16 to 29, according to the ISDH.

Nationally, 215 cases have been reported to the CDC.

Fitzthum has been in the vape business for about three years and has many regular clients including Matthew Newnun.

“It tastes better than cigarettes for one,” said Newnun. “And it’s a lot smoother.”

While regulars come in often, Fitzthum said recent news stories regarding the risks and vaping related deaths are forcing some clients to return to their former habit.

“I think it has affected our business a little bit,” he explained. “But I see some of those customers that we have that say oh well this isn’t good for you, I’m going to go back to smoking.”

Newnun took up vaping to quit smoking, and has done so since he was 16.

Still addicted to the nicotine, he keeps his nicotine level on his vape at 6mg, which is half the nicotine of an average cigarette.

Newnun said the risks associated with vaping don’t scare him.

“People can abuse it. But it’s more just like having a basic knowledge of you know what’s going to hurt me if I put it in my body,” he explained. “And if I try to make it myself, the e-juice or the mods.”

While Fitzthum makes a living off the vaping business, he doesn’t recommend it to those who have never used nicotine.

“It’s a smoking alternative,” he said. “And I’d like to say too that if you don’t have a relationship with nicotine, don’t start.”

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