Counterfeit Vapes Plague Health Officials

KCBS Radio Morning News
September 30, 2019 - 10:23 am
Woman Using Vaping Device

Aleksandr Yu/Getty Images

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(KCBS Radio) - The soaring popularity of vaping products, both legal and black market knock-offs, is fueling a public health crisis that has vexed the medical community.

Public health officials are looking at counterfeit devices that are cut with vitamin E acetate as one possible source of the surge in vaping related illnesses and deaths.

“We’re trying to track those cartridges back to where people purchased them,” says Alex Traverso, spokesperson with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. “And then hopefully, find the greater source so that we can shut that down as well.”

The agency has already identified one smoke shop in Fresno that was producing counterfeit vaping cartridges. “Our investigators turned up over 2,000 of these illegal vape cartridges, plus materials to make another 4,000,” says Traverso. “The actual packaging that looks like recognizable brands - and this place was just basically making these cartridges in the back room.”

Consumers should be wary of where they are purchasing vaping products, especially if a price seems too good to be true. “You’re probably not getting what you think you’re getting. You’re probably getting that oil cartridge that’s thickened with vitamin E or the other additives,” warns Traverso. “They’re adding things into it that’s going to make you sick.”

Careful consumers can search for licensed cannabis businesses including retailers and distributors at CAPotCheck.com.