Brendan Carson wants the vaping industry more regulated and organized.
Carson, who owns Adrenochrome Labs in the Cowichan Valley, said the recent increase in health issues related to vaping is mainly caused by people who use illicit cartridges containing marijuana in their vapes.
He said the black market cartridges sometimes use fatty acids that can cause lipoid pneumonia when inhaled into the lungs.
“We only use ingredients that have been approved by Health Canada,” Carson said at the lab, which manufactures e-liquid for electric cigarettes. It’s the biggest of its kind on the B.C. coast and the only one on Vancouver Island.
“In fact, we have to report every incident of people coughing or other symptoms after vaping to Health Canada within seven days, and we’ve never had to report any instances in the five years we’ve been in business.”
In the U.S., at least eight people have died recently from a mysterious respiratory illness related to vaping, and a youth in London, Ont., was put on life support last week in the first known case of a vaping-related illness in Canada.
In all, more than 530 cases of respiratory illnesses have been reported across North America so far that are believed to be connected to vaping. None has yet been reported in B.C.
Eight Canadian health organizations have called for urgent action from the federal government to treat vaping like smoking.
The Centre for Disease Control acknowledged that based on data, most patients who have experienced lung problems have reported using e-cigarette products containing THC, a cannabinoid found in cannabis.
But Dr. Shannon Waters, a health officer with Island Heath, said officials don’t know exactly what is causing the health problems yet, so it’s premature to point fingers, and doctors have been told to keep detailed records of patients with lung issues.
“There are a lot more cases being reported in the U.S. than Canada right now, but that’s likely because it’s a bigger country and we think we’ll see more cases here once proper reporting structures are in place,” Waters said.
Carson, who was a two-pack-a-day smoker before he discovered vaping in 2008, said e-cigarettes are widely regarded as a good way to help people quit smoking.
He said he believes the industry should do more to restrict its advertising, noting Adrenochrome is only allowed to advertise in adults-only facilities.
“It’s bigger groups, like tobacco companies, which also own vaping companies, that are bringing vaping products into convenience stores,” Carson said, adding that Health Canada has had to train new officers to enforce advertising regulations under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.
Health Canada states that while not all vaping products contain nicotine, most of the ones on the market do.