NORWICH — 11 is the new number of people who’ve been hospitalized here in Connecticut for respiratory issues possibly connected to vaping.
These increasing health concerns have prompted a Norwich convenience store owner to take action.
New signs hang in the windows of the Norwichtown Shell Food Mart. Owner Swaranjit Singh Khalsa said, “We need to make a healthy society and an educated society.”
Even though the vaping products he’s warning about are still sold inside. Singh says that’s because it would drive business away.
“We have another thousand products and people won’t even be buying that. So I have to pay rent. I have to survive.”
On Wednesday he invited UCFS Healthcare to set up a booth at his business to educate about public health and vaping.
“Even if we are able to change the mindset of 10 different people. That will be a big accomplishment itself.”
Six people have died nationwide. 11 have been hospitalized in Connecticut. Most customers Singh’s customers are receptive.
“I’ve tried them and I also had a chest problem after,” said Mary Wetherby, who also worries about her family. “I already had a 13 year old I caught with his vape and I took it from him. I just stick to my regular cigarettes and I’m working on quitting that too.”
Singh is running for Board of Education in Norwich. He wants a local ordinance to create smoke free zones in Norwich parks.
“I have already made a request to our city to create a non-smoking zone,” he said.
And he says he’d support a state ban. Kevin Ryan represents Norwich in the legislature. Rep. Ryan says he wants more information before he can support an all out ban. “A lot of people are advocates for vaping because they feel it’s helped them in the course of smoking cessation.”
Beginning October 1st , the minimum age to buy vaping products in Connecticut goes up to 21. Federally, President Trump says he’s working to ban flavored e-cigarettes.