OLDSMAR, FL -- Tawfik Nabil Soliman, 46 years old, was taken into Oldsmar's county jail on counts of selling counterfeit vaping equipment and e-liquid pods through the popular marketplace app - OfferUp.
OfferUp is an online store for anyone to instantly connect and exchange goods for money - ranging from vehicles and televisions; to chairs and typewriters.
Soliman was released on a surety bond with a $5,150 bail. Soliman utilized the popular app "OfferUp" to make delinquent transactions of e-liquid nicotine pods and e-cigarettes. Selling e-cigarettes via OfferUp - or similar websites like Craigslist - isn't illegal, but Soliman was selling them under the JUUL Labs logo.
According to the Tampa Bay Newspapers Weekly, Soliman sold fake JUUL products to an undercover policeman and was promptly arrested. It's also reported that Soliman purchased the counterfeit pods from China.
It is not known at this time if the counterfeit products were purchased knowingly, or if Soliman believed these were legitimate JUUL products and was only seeking for a better profit compared to purchasing them from the United States. Innocent until proven guilty.
Why You Should Be Wary of Counterfeit E-Liquid
The problem with counterfeit products is that they're not properly regulated, and chemically faulty which can lead to dangerous repercussions.
Creating e-liquid is an exacting process. You are courting danger if you're purchasing a counterfeit version with questionable quality. The nicotine, VG, PG, and the rest of the components must reach a certain standard of quality.
After San Francisco's ban, the entire vaping industry has been walking on eggshells. One of the most detrimental side-effects of this ban is the rise of clandestine products and sellers.
There are many dangers to vaping unregulated e-juices that cause health problems. The dangers the FDA is trying to avoid by taxing and banning vaping, are coming into full-swing with a worst impact now that consumers are finding other means of acquiring it.
We have over 30 million vapers around the world, and if it gets up to its neck in taxes, bans, and regulations; that is a gigantic market left unsatisfied that will find its way into more clandestine and unregulated operations. This could possibly lead to even more health risks.
It's a good idea to be wary when purchasing anything from a seller not located in a licensed store.
One of the dangers of purchasing a counterfeit product is when you encounter a fake e-liquid, the concentrations mentioned on the bottle won't be what you're about to consume.
Thanks to OfferUp, Craigslist, and similar websites; scammers have weaseled their way into these marketplaces with fake products of all types. E-liquid is just another one on the long list of counterfeit products being peddled without compunction.
There are reports of many black market avenues taking root in San Francisco. It's all anecdotal and not proven evidence, but it's not a stretch of imagination to assume that could be the truth at some point (if it isn't already).
When vaping an e-liquid with more nicotine than you expected, there could be unpleasant consequences. The chemical impurity from these clandestine products can affect your health in many ways, although we do not have enough studies to confirm and report the exact numbers.
We live in a world where anyone can concoct a few ingredients in their kitchen sink, use a label from a popular brand, and pass it around for top dollar. It has to stop.
The problem doesn't end with your regular e-liquid. As you've probably heard, there have been an increasing number of cases regarding people having seizures from vaping unregulated CBD/THC oils. After some research, it was discovered that most of them were victims of a scammer.
Sadly, these scammers show up, sell their fake product and disappear. There isn't a brand or store to link to. This is why it's important to raise awareness. The vaping industry is already tainted by misinformation and media propaganda. The last thing we need is more of it.
Many of us use vaping as a smoking cessation tool. If vaping is banned thanks to the abuse of scammers and the ignorance of others, we could be left at the mercy of good old Big Tobacco.
Nicotine is addictive, and kicking the habit is nigh impossible for some. The reason why Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) exist, is to edge out the habit, slowly, and painlessly. Vaping, while not officially considered an NRT, it still operates as a cessation tool.
The Boogeyman and Savior: JUUL
JUUL is one of the most popular vaping companies in the world, and lately, they have been leveled by the onslaught of attacks from the FDA and the company's own home city of San Francisco.
Last month, San Francisco, CA pushed a complete ban on all vaping products, tremendously hindering JUUL Labs to operate in its own town. On the other hand we have the FDA, with continuous attempts to block, tax, and otherwise attack the vaping industry in any way they can.
JUUL has become the easiest target. Starting with all the blame for teen vaping, JUUL is also attacked for causing popcorn lung, e-cigarette explosions, and even seizures.
Regardless of the controversy, counterfeit products are still adopting the JUUL name based on its popularity.
The sad truth is: we never really know what is inside a counterfeit e-liquid. Some fake the branding so well, it's indistinguishable from the real thing. The best advice is to avoid purchasing from websites like OfferUp and Craigslist, and instead go to ProVape.com, or similar reputable websites that offer a breakdown of its ingredients.