LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Amid growing concerns, a local vape shop owner is defending his industry.

Troy LeBlanc is the owner of Derb E Cigs and the president of the Smoke Free Kentucky Association. He said this issue is much more complex than just the oil or extract being used in these products.

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LeBlanc believes placing too many bans on the industry will drive e-cigarette users to the black market, saying, “an all-out ban, all it’s going to do is cause another prohibition.”

He’s getting ready to head to Washington D.C. to lobby for an industry he feels is not getting the right representation considering recent reports of deaths and respiratory illness related to e-cigarettes and vaping.

LeBlanc, said the industry has been around for a decade, and since that time, there has not been such a large concentration of illness like we have seen in recent weeks.

He has his own theory of what’s happening, “I personally believe it’s a bad batch of THC cartridges.”

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The formula for e-cigarettes has not changed over the last 10 years, according to LeBlanc. He said in 2016 the federal government placed a freeze on the industry, prohibiting changes to the products. Since this freeze, the federal government has indeed placed laws specifying that e-cigarette liquids show proof of safety and ingredients. Regulations of the devices used to vape, are also heavily monitored and must be labeled on the packaging.

Defending his industry, LeBlanc argues, most business owners are pro-legislation and pro-regulation.

He is concerned more people will reach for the black-market products instead of products sold at businesses, saying, “a lot of the illnesses are being caused by the black market, and the only response from the US government is to create an even larger black market by banning everything.”

LeBlanc said with this proposed ban his workers and the future of his industry are on the line.

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