Just the other day, a dozen or so kids in the Midwest were admitted to the hospital after using counterfeit THC vape products they bought on the street. This week, three men are facing charges in Nassau County, Long Island for running counterfeit vape products. In total, authorities seized nearly $1.5 million dollars in counterfeiting equipment and $140,000 in cash. The men are facing charges of trademark counterfeiting. The trademark in question was Logic E-Cigarettes.
Police arrived at the home of Ali Asghar, Ali Zar, and Ali Moosa, a father and his two sons, with a search warrant. Upon searching the premises, they found an incredible assortment of damning evidence that the family was allegedly using to create fake vape products. They marketed these counterfeits under the brand Logic, which is a reliable and trustworthy vape manufacturer.
In a statement, Anthony Hemsley, a representative from Logic, said, “Those involved in buying and selling counterfeit products don’t care what they sell or to whom they sell it. It undermines all the efforts we take to ensure the quality of our products and that they do not get into the hands of underage individuals.”
The evidence supports the statement from Logic, as well, as products were found to have been sold at five different brick-and-mortar locations as well as the online retailer eBay.
Obviously, the issue at hand here is not the potential damage done to the manufacturer Logic. Although regrettable, the vape company will almost surely recover if they are able to produce high-quality products. The real issue is when products like these lead to media blitzes like we experienced last week.
For instance, had one of these counterfeit Logic vapes exploded in the face of a teenager, or landed them in the hospital for lung-related complications, it would be another nail in the vaping coffin. In fact, the level of condescension in the articles reporting these recent arrests is incredibly frustrating. In the ABC article reporting these Long Island arrests, they go on to say “officials are cracking down on legal e-cigarette manufacturers, too”. Which is exactly a part of the problem and why it’s kind of surprising there was any attention paid to a large counterfeiting ring at all.
The headlines constantly invoke vaping as one unified entity. In that bubble, they include Big Tobacco-funded companies like Juul, local mom-and-pop storefronts, smaller manufacturers, and, simply by implication, the dangerous and criminal enterprises like this counterfeiting operation. Similarly, law enforcement agencies regularly use dangers and damage done by illegal vape start-ups to crack down on their legal counterparts.
Not to mention, the false equivalency drawn by including the FDA’s attacks on legitimate vape manufacturers alongside a crackdown on illegal counterfeiting. It’s the same tactic used last week when the Wisconsin teenagers’ illnesses were blamed on “vaping” rather than specifically upon the counterfeit products being discussed this week.
The truth is that illegal counterfeit operations like the latest one in Long Island are the biggest threat to teenage vapers out there. Vape devices manufactured by legitimate companies and used by adults in accordance with the specifications of the device are infinitely safer than cigarettes and far safer than just about any news outlet is willing to let on. In that regard, counterfeit devices are in a completely different category. In the words of Sam Jackson, “ain’t the same ****ing thing, it ain’t no ****ing ballpark neither!”
In other words, these two subjects need to be covered together but separately. The damage done to the vaping industry by counterfeiters is important and that needs to be covered. But what these criminals are putting on the market has nothing in common with regulated vape company products. The distinction needs to be front and center. Anybody who’s been vaping for any length of time will tell you that vape companies and retailers are among the most cautious and law-minded individuals doing business today. Vaping has been viewed skeptically at best, and with downright animosity at times, for as long as it’s been around. As a result, vape companies are incredibly tight with their quality controls. Sure, they might release some crappy coils every now and again, but nothing dangerous. There are no reputable vape companies out there releasing inherently unsafe devices. Period.