A bit of levity making the rounds as Hurricane Dorian stalled along the east coast suggested that if it didn’t move soon, someone would build a Dollar General on it. A hurricane is no laughing matter, but that observation addresses both the unusual behavior of the storm and the retailer’s rapid growth as a counterpoint to tragedy.

They might also have substituted “a vape shop” in the anecdote, as those retailers have joined title pawn and payday loan shops, nail salons, and now CBD stores as the most proliferate storefronts, and vaping is now at the center of a public health storm.

More than 450 people in 33 states have developed acute lung illnesses tied to the fad. Five people have died from the mysterious ailment, and public health officials describe the trend as worrisome. Originally touted as an aid to help cigarette smokers kick the habit by instead “smoking” a vapor produced by heating a fluid containing propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, flavoring, and varying amounts of nicotine.

However, many states have begun to clamp down on the vape industry, accusing manufacturers of targeting young people with various sweetened flavors and advertising.

This week, a north Alabama school system removed the stall doors in high school restrooms to deter students from vaping in the bathrooms.

The federal Food and Drug Administration is behind the curve in developing regulation for electronic nicotine delivery systems, and many people may have a false sense of security in the safety of a product in the marketplace.

Investigators haven’t determined what exactly is at fault in the growing number of lung illness cases. It’s good to keep in mind that scientists also lack the breadth of data to determine safety of the products in the long term as well.

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