Local shop pulls vaping products over health questions

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MANCHESTER — Several stores owned by a Manchester woman have pulled all vape oils from the shelves of her three shops, citing the publicity of recent health concerns in the national media.

Jill Bradley, who owns Vermont Hemp Farmacy, which has locations in Manchester and Bennington, A Kind Place in Bennington, and Greener Pastures Smoke Shop in Manchester, wrote on Facebook over the weekend that profits weren't worth risking people's health.

The announcement that she was pulling all vape oils off her shelves was met with overwhelming approval online, although a few challenged her motivations or understanding of the science behind the products and their connection to the illnesses and deaths.

Bradley said that until the facts are out, she would rather be safe than sorry.

"When this story came out, I found myself saying, 'Right now we just don't know,'" Bradley said in an interview this week. "The CDC came out and said 'We don't really know what it is.' I didn't do it for the attention. I have to sleep at night."

So, Bradley pulled the products last Saturday. She still offers the devices, but is no longer selling the oil-based vape cartridges.

As of press time, there have been six deaths and hundreds of suspected illnesses in at least 33 states related to using vape devices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the lung illness patients are suffering from include a cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss.

Vermont has issued a recommendation that anybody who vapes and suffers from any of these symptoms should see their health care provider.

The state also encourages students to avoid vaping, and suggested students and educators could learn more about vaping and tobacco use at CounterBalanceVT.com.

At The Collaborative, a nonprofit that works to help youths remain healthy and substance-free by providing education and support to schools, families, towns and businsses, the risk of vaping is well known.

According to a blog post, vape pens, e-cigarettes and mods use a battery-powered device to produce an aerosol from a heated liquid. It can be nicotine-based or, increasingly, used to consume marijuana and other cannabis products, including CDB products.

Bradley sells the devices and, until a week ago, sold some of the oil-based products, although she said she's been getting out of nicotine-based products and dealing mostly in cannabis products for a while.

She said she has been cutting back on her nicotine-based vaping products for a while and pulled most of it off the shelves about six months ago.

She has continued to offer cannabis vaping products.

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"Cannibis vaping is very popular," Bradley said. "I had very little nicotine and I pulled it about six months ago. I just wanted out of that."

But when the most reports added CDB and THC vapes to the list of products that may be causing some of the illnesses, she's knew immediately what she had to do.

"I gotta sleep at night," Bradley said in a Facebook comment that was widely praised.

Wednesday, a box of vape oil products was sitting in the corner of her shop, no longer for sale.

Area schools were also taking in the news and deciding what changes if any the news required of them.

Despite active efforts to stop vaping among students and bans in schools, it's no secret that vaping is a growing problem among young people.

Victoria diMonda, a registered nurse who works at The Dorset School, said vaping is definitely an issue in schools.

She teaches health to students in grades six through eight and said she attended a conference on vaping last spring and focused on the subject in a class of seventh- and eighth-graders.

"We discussed the risks and ingredients in vapes as well as the manipulative advertising," diMonda said. "I will be tweaking it in the next few days to incorporate the recent deaths attributed to vaping."

diMonda said she had heard of students who vape in middle school but that know about any instances where staff had caught a student in the act.

With concerns about younger students getting started and a new health teacher added this year by the Taconic & Green Regional School District, diMonda said she hopes to educate kids before they hit middle school.

"I'm going to discuss starting vaping education in fourth and fifth grade,"diMonda said. " I recently heard a story of a fifth grader who was using her high school aged sister's Juul at a school in Bennington.

Seth Linfield, head of school at Long Trail School said LTS is working to inform students and persuade them not to risk their health.

"We at Long Trail School accept our responsibility to inform and persuade our students about the risks posed by e-cigarettes and other vaping products," Linfield said in a statement. "Over time, we have successfully mitigated the appeal of traditional tobacco products. But, for now, students do not appear to deem pods to be similar, thanks to effective marketing from the manufacturers. As a result, the average student does not discern the dangers, though the recent tragic spate of related illnesses and deaths is peeling away that comfort. We will continue to be a ready source of information and support for our students."

And at Maple Street School, a health curriculum focuses in the upper school for middle school aged students on issues of overall health and wellness.

"We work with students to discuss the dangers of vaping as part of the curriculum on drug, alcohol and nicotine addiction," said Meredith Morin. "Given the rise in popularity of vaping in recent years, we have spent additional time in our health classes specifically addressing the health concerns associated with vaping, and we will continue to spend as much time as we need with students to discuss this issue."Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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