Columbus vape shops say misinformation is destroying business

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GAHANNA, Ohio - James Jarvis owns five Vapor Stations in central Ohio and says the headlines in the last couple weeks aren't fair to his business.

"The problem isn't the legitimate vape stores," he said. "The problem is coming from somewhere else."

You've seen the headlines that are warning consumers of serious breathing illnesses.

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Across the country, officials have identified 450 possible cases and as many as five deaths in 33 states, including Ohio. Jarvis, who is also the president of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association, says don't be so quick to loop-in his industry.

"The products that we make and sell on the shelves right here that go into some of the cartridges are not the same things that are being used by folks who are coming down with these illnesses we keep on finding out," he said.

Actual vaping stores are regulated. They have ingredients and labels. Jarvis has been in business since 2008 and says the problem is that some people are taking cartridges and cutting them with different substances.

"Most of them have been related back to contaminated cartridges that they're buying off the street through the black market," he said.

He says the recent scare has affected business at his stores and sales are down 30 percent in the last three weeks. He says he knows of four stores that have closed up, as well as one liquid manufacturer in Ohio.

On top of this, health officials are urging people not to vape until they determine the cause of these illnesses.

"If we're going to force them to stop vaping, forcing them to stop using a product that's at least 95 percent less harmful than the traditional tobacco, we're going to push them back to those cigarettes and the death count is going to continue to climb," he said.

Jarvis says tobacco kills 480,000 people each year and vaping, statistically, helps kick that habit.

Ohio is also getting ready to implement new laws like upping the tax for products with nicotine in the liquid, roughly 10 cents per milliliter.

Then, Ohio will push back the age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21, which is a large chunk of Jarvis's clientele.

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