MARION (WSIL) — A cloud of doubt consumes Roger Walker over the future of his business following a proposed ban on most vaping products by President Donald Trump.
"We’ve got seven employees that are going to lose their jobs," Walker said. "I’m going to lose my business."
Walker owns and operates ‘Vapors 4 U’ stores in three locations in Illinois: Marion, Mt. Vernon and Harrisburg and one in Paducah, Kentucky. He started vaping in 2011 as a way to quit his 37-year smoking habit.
"I couldn’t quit with any aid. I’ve tried the patch, I’ve tried gum, and nothing worked for me."
In the past month at least six people have died, including one in Illinois, from complications related to vaping. Walker says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has urged people to be on the lookout for spiked cartridges that could contain THC, an ingredient commonly found in marijuana.
"The FDA has said themselves stay away from the THC cartridges," Walker said. "There are some that are tainted but it doesn’t contain the nicotine juice you buy in your local vape shop."
Much of the concern over vaping is the increasing usage among teens.
Natalie Sawyer, director of health education for the Southern Seven Health Department, says the group is working on a program that tracks the number of students who vape.
Sawyer says she’s had some schools report at least 60 cases in which students were caught vaping.
"That’s only just a little bit of what’s going on," Sawyer said. "It’s an eye-opener."
Sawyer says more research is needed on how vaping affects the body, "People are looking at this as an alternative, as a safe alternative, and there’s nothing to confirm that."
Walker says his customers have told him they would start smoking cigarettes again if the Trump Administration’s proposal to ban vaping products goes through.
He believes the federal government shouldn’t ban a product that it doesn’t know enough about, "It’s a sad situation for many and I think it’s wrong on many different levels."