Vape influencers say they’re the real victims of vaping illness crisis

Tobacco companies aren’t the only ones profiting from the dangerous vaping trend.

When vaping illness struck America this summer, it brought e-cigarette culture — once a niche trend among the Instagram generation — into the spotlight. The mysterious sickness, now formally called EVALI (short for e-cigarette or vaping-product use associated lung injury) and suspected to be caused by bad additives in black-market THC vapes, has claimed at least 26 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 1,299 cases of the disease have been reported in 49 states. In response to the crisis, the FDA announced plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes because of their effect on public health, with local governments already enacting such legislation.

The crisis also exposed the seedy marketing tactics vaping companies use to reach teens.

Vape influencers — young people paid to promote vaping products on social media — have raked in thousands of dollars hawking their smoking habit to followers.

Victoria Williams, a 26-year-old based in Savannah, Ga., with 58,000 Instagram followers, initially started vaping to kick her cigarette habit. For a year, she earned a decent living, being paid $20 to $300 per post — about $3,500 a month — by companies such as Skol Pods and Craze Liquids.

A typical post shows the tattooed Williams lounging outdoors, vape in hand.

“I [was] making enough to pay my rent and my bills, and [to] have a little extra to put in savings,” Williams says.

In July, a congressional report found that Juul Labs Inc. had spent more than $200,000 to recruit influencers and market to young people. Now, the FDA, Federal Trade Commission and Cogress are all investigating the social-media marketing of e-cigs.

“It’s clear that vaping is not safe,” says Joanna Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She believes that many vapefluencers are well aware of this, and glamorize the habit — whether they mean to or not. “It’s not always overt advertising,” she says. “It’s the messaging that these products are normal consumer products that someone might want to use.”

The FDA seems to agree: In June, it cracked down on four e-liquid manufacturers for failing to include the disclaimer, “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical,” on their social-media posts, per the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

But many influencers aren’t happy about this.

“I do use the warning labels, but I was a little reluctant,” says Manuel Urzua, 24. “I’m so into photography, and the warning labels make the pictures look so bad.”

Urzua started smoking cigarettes at 15, then took to vaping at 18 to wean himself off of cigs. Not long after, he fell into a lucrative gig as a vape promoter and trickster.

“I created three of the main vaping tricks that are used today. In one, you can make an ‘O’ and make it wobble,” says Urzua, who made $5,500 per month for the past three years through affiliate codes and paid promotions for brands such as Ruthless E Juice and Midnight Vapors.

But now, money is drying up as companies scale back marketing efforts amid public outrage. These days, Urzua is only pulling in about $2,000 monthly.

For health reasons, Urzua hopes to stop vaping altogether in the next two years, and to transition his online focus to “car stuff.” He also has an upcoming social-media deal with a headphone company. Still, he feels loyal to his e-juice business partners. “I like working with the product .‌ . . It’s hard to let go of something you’ve been working at for so long.”

Some vapefluencers say that they have their own set of quality-control standards to avoid pushing bad products.

“I take time to test the product and ask if it was made pre-August 2016 because that’s when certain FDA regulations went into effect,” says Williams. “I vet the brands and try to be as responsible as I can be that the products are abiding by regulations.”

Others, such as Priscilla Gomez, a 22-year-old from Riverside, Calif., say they block underage followers.

“I look in my insights [an Instagram analytics tool] and look at my age demographic,” says Gomez, who declined to say how much she is paid for her sultry promotional spots for brands such as Vapetasia and Skol Pods. “If I spot underage accounts, I block them.”

The exact causes of vaping illness are still unclear — adding to the confusion over what is actually safe to promote. Williams notes that the lion’s share of vaping-related hospitalizations have been linked to black-market marijuana-derived products, or ones with vitamin E acetate, which aren’t what she works with.

“The only commonality between black-market THC cartridges and vaping is that you heat a liquid to produce a vapor,” she says, although there isn’t yet a consensus among the scientific community.

Still, she’s somewhat conscious of glorifying the potentially life-threatening habit.

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“I limit the amount of attraction to someone who doesn’t already vape as [much as] I can. I try to take pictures that are tasteful,” she says. “I love going to the beach and drinking coffee, and that’s what comes out in my posts. I’m not trying to enlist teenagers to vape.”

She and Cohen agree on something: Both believe that vape products should be taken off the shelves at corner stores and gas stations.

But Williams doesn’t think her well-compensated Instagramming has really encouraged that many young people to vape.

“I would be totally fine with shutting down and never posting another vaping photo again if that’s what it took [to stop teens from vaping],” she says. ”I just don’t think that I’m what’s encouraging teenagers to vape . . . Teenagers like to be rebellious.”

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'Marriage Bootcamp': Aaron Carter's Bizarre Explanation For His Face Tattoo Raises Eyebrows

Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition just premiered, and so did Aaron Carter’s new face tattoo. The Carter family has been dealing with some difficult developments in the last few months, and while Aaron Carter’s mother, Jane, might feel comfortable pursuing a new relationship with her son, other members of the family do not. 

Nick Carter has taken out a restraining order against Aaron Carter, who has threatened legal action in return. Now, with the premiere of Marriage Bootcamp, Aaron Carter is dishing on what his face tattoo means, and how he’s dealing with the haters and the drama surrounding his family lately. 

Nick Carter takes out a restraining order 

According to Nick Carter, Aaron Carter has been making some troubling statements about his family. Nick Carter recently felt impelled to take out a restraining order against his younger brother after claims that Aaron Carter threatened Nick Carter’s wife and unborn child. 

Nick Carter took to Twitter to explain the restraining order he took out against his younger brother He wrote, “After careful consideration, my sister Angel and I regret that we were required to seek a restraining order against our brother Aaron today. In light of Aaron’s increasingly alarming behavior and his recent confession that he harbors thoughts and intentions of killing my pregnant wife and unborn child, we were left with no choice but to take away every measure possible to protect ourselves and our family. We love our brother and truly hope he gets the proper treatment he needs before any harm comes to himself or anyone else.”

E! News was able to obtain court documents including further details about the restraining order. In these documents, Nick Carter claims that Aaron Carter thinks about harming his wife and unborn child. He claims his sister Angel heard their brother make these comments during a FaceTime conversation. 

The documents claim, in part, that Aaron Carter “thinks about killing babies and has thought about killing [Nick’s] wife, Lauren.” They also suggest he “recently admitted to having schizophrenia with multiple other mental disorders.”

Aaron Carter threatens legal action

The Marriage Boot Camp star, meanwhile, denies these accusations by his older brother. He claims that he never said these things. “I am astounded at the accusations being made against me and I do not wish harm to anyone, especially my family,” said the celebrity. 

According to Too Fab, Carter suggested that if he can’t patch things up with his older brother, he might be seeking legal recourse. “I hope everything can work out between my brother and I, but if not, it is what it is. We’ll see. If not, I’m going to come out with very, very powerful attorneys,” said Carter.

He added, “I do love you Nick, I do love you. But I ask for you to respect my privacy, I’m moving 5,000 miles away from you guys. So respect my privacy… that’s all I have to say about that.”

Aaron Carter explains his new face tattoo

Carter took saw an opportunity to explain to fans what his new face tattoo means after the premiere episode of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition. According to Carter, it all has to do with the haters and attacks against him. 

An interviewer with Entertainment Tonight asked Carter if he could explain his new ink. In an answer that seemed to put even his mother off, he replied, “The story is that Medusa, in Greek mythology, well, first of all, she was raped. … With that being said, Medusa is my protector. So if you wanna come at me with some negativity, my Medusa will stare you in the eye and turn you into stone. “

“And guess who my Medusa is?” asked Aaron Carter. He looked at his mother, who said, “I don’t know, Rihanna?” 

Carter pointed at his mother and said, “You!” She replied, “It’s not me!”

Carter continued, “This is the love of my life right here. This is my date.”

The interviewer then asked Carter what his hopes for the future with his family are. Carter replied, “You know what, the hopes for the future are this. Don’t come at me the wrong way because I will fight to protect my rights, and what our forebrothers stood for.”

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Nephew tells investigators aunt shot by cop in her home had gun in her hand: Warrant

An 8-year-old boy who witnessed his aunt being fatally shot by a Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who fired through a window of their house told investigators she had retrieved a handgun from her purse and pointed it toward a window when she was killed, according to an arrest warrant issued for the officer.

But police officials said 28-year-old Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson, the victim of the shooting early Saturday, was within her rights to protect herself and her nephew when she heard noises in her backyard and went to the window to investigate.

The arrest warrant for now-former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean, 34, was released on Tuesday, a day after he abruptly resigned from the police force and was charged with murder, stemming from the shooting of Jefferson. Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said Dean quit the force before he had a chance to fire him.

“I realize that no action we take can replace the loss suffered here. I’m deeply sorry for what occurred,” Kraus said during a news conference on Tuesday to announce Dean’s arrest. “Human life is a precious thing, and should not have been taken from Ms. Jefferson. This incident has eroded the trust that we have built with our community and we must now work even harder to ensure that trust is restored.”

The arrest warrant affidavit states that Dean and his partner arrived at Jefferson’s home about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and never knocked on the door or identified themselves as police as they entered the backyard of the home and Dean opened fire almost as soon as he saw Jefferson standing at the bedroom window peering out.

After being shot, Jefferson “yelled out in pain, and fell to the ground,” according to the affidavit.

A neighbor had earlier called the police department’s non-emergency line to ask that a welfare check be conducted on Jefferson’s home because he noticed the front door was wide open, the neighbor, James Smith, told ABC affiliate station WFAA in Dallas.

“I called my police department for a welfare check,” Smith told WFAA. “No domestic violence, no arguing, nothing that they should have been concerned about as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor’s house.”

But on Tuesday, Chief Kraus told reporters that the officers believed they were responding to an “open structure” call, which would have required them to take more tactical precautions, including parking around the corner from the house.

“The information came from the neighbor to the call takers and then while it was relayed to the dispatch it was determined to be an open structure call,” Kraus said in response to a question from ABC News. “I can’t tell you specifically if it was the dispatcher, but that’s something we’re looking into.”

In the arrest warrant affidavit, Jefferson’s young nephew, Zion, told investigators that he and his aunt, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, were playing a video game in a back bedroom of their home when they heard noises outside.

“She took her handgun from her purse,” the affidavit reads. “(The nephew) said Jefferson raised her handgun, pointed toward the window, then Jefferson was shot and fell to the ground.”

Body camera footage released by the police department shows Dean approaching a rear window of the home with his gun drawn. The officer sees the woman through the window, shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” and fires one shot. Kraus confirmed that Dean never identified himself as police.

“Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” a statement from the police department reads.

Dean’s partner, identified in the warrant as L. Darch, told investigators she never saw Jefferson raise the gun before Dean opened fire.

“Officer Darch said that they went into the backyard and Officer Dean was standing between her and the house and she could only see Jefferson’s face through the window when Officer Dean discharged his weapon one time,” the arrest warrant affidavit reads.

Dean was arrested by a team of Fort Worth police officers on Monday evening at his lawyer’s office, Kraus said. He was booked at the Tarrant County Jail and released on $200,000 bond late Monday night.

Efforts by ABC News to reach Dean and his attorney for comment have not been successful.

The shooting immediately sparked outrage and protests from community members and Jefferson’s family.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price issued a public apology on Monday, saying, “there is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing.”

While Jefferson’s relatives expressed relief that Dean had been arrested and charged with murder, an attorney for the family said Tuesday, “That’s not enough.”

“We need more than a single arrest. We need appropriate prosecution, an effective verdict and proper sentencing,” said attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson’s family in pending civil litigation.”

Merritt said others in the police department need to be held accountable.

“We need to go further up the stream. It’s time that we stop pulling babies out of the river and go further up the stream to see who’s putting them in there in the first place,” Merritt said referring to department policies and protocols that failed to stop Dean from using ill-advised lethal force.

Calling the circumstances a “pivotal moment for the city,” Mayor Price said she had ordered the creation of a “third-party panel of national experts to review this department” ‘s policies and procedures.

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke announced he will assemble an independent review board for the police department and will begin interviewing candidates for an independent police monitor.

Chief Kraus became overcome with emotion on Tuesday as he described the toll the shooting has taken on the morale of police officers.

“The officers are hurting,” said Kraus, appearing to tear up. “I’ve been out there on patrol and since this occurred … the officers they come up and hug. It’s very emotional because the officers try hard every day to try to make this city better.

“They’re out there trying to build these relationships and I likened it to a bunch of ants building an anthill and then somebody comes along with a hose and washes it away and they just have to start from scratch,” he said.

He pleaded with citizens of Fort Worth to “please do not let the actions of one officer reflect on the other 1,700.”

“There are absolutely no excuses for the incident and the person responsible will be held accountable,” he said. “Ms. Jefferson’s family and our community will have the last word and the courts will speak on her behalf.”

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Survivor fans have trouble with cast during Season 39 episodes

A lot of Survivor fans are a bit frustrated with the cold openings of Season 39. It has led to some struggles when it comes to getting familiar with the 20 new castaways.

A cold opening is when a show just starts up without an introduction, title sequence, or opening credits. It’s become a very familiar tactic for Saturday Night Live and several other shows, like NCIS, have followed that lead.

With the Survivor 39 cast, having no opening segment for the introduction of the new castaways has made it more difficult for fans to learn the names of these people. And with 20 new castaways taking part in Survivor: Island of the Idols, some viewers are having a tough time keeping up.

It’s made even worse for a viewer that might have missed an episode or two already because the show is jumping right into things without the familiar theme music and video footage. Normally, a second or two is spent showing each cast member with their name. Not this year.

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 4 preview

A new episode of the show is going to air on Wednesday night, with just 17 castaways left competing for the $1 million cash prize. During the last episode, a huge blindside took place at Tribal Council, sending an unsuspecting castaway home far earlier than they had expected.

According to CBS, the new episode is called “Plan Z” and it advertises another castaway getting to meet with Boston Rob and Sandra. They will have the chance to “seize an opportunity to prove the strength of the power of persuasion.”

It should be an interesting segment to watch if viewers can remember the name of this person.

The images below are from Episode 4 and it indicates that the blindfold challenge is back.

When the cast starts to thin out a bit more, it will be easier for Survivor fans to keep up with the Season 39 cast and what their names are this time. Until then, though, it will require paying very close attention, even if it is a tad frustrating.

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Love Island’s India Reynolds stuns in lingerie at raunchy shoot in the country

Love Island star India Reynolds has given fans a glimpse into a life of luxury.

The brunette beauty took to her Instagram story to reveal to her 1.1 million followers that she was doing a lingerie shoot in a very fancy-looking home in the country.

The 28 year-old, who came third in this year's Love Island alongside beau Ovie Soko , documented her time in the gorgeous house.

"Today's location is wild," India laughed, zooming the camera in on a looming stuffed bear, "Not very vegan."

She was shooting with fellow model Georgia Bayliss, and the two looked sensational as they frolicked for the cameras in lingerie.


"Christmas round at ours," she joked, focusing on an immaculate Christmas tree.

India turned the camera onto the grounds, saying: "Might want to take a stroll in the garden."

She and pal Georgia were shooting for luxury lingerie and swimwear brand, Pour Moi.



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Beware of angry Saquon Barkley

There was a different sort of edge to Saquon Barkley when he was forced to talk about something he was disgusted to talk about: missing games because of a high ankle sprain. There was a defiance to his clipped words as he vowed, “I am going to come back as fast as I can and I’m going to be 10 times better.”

Ten times better?

“He’s been special since Day 1, coming back from this he’s champing at the bit a little bit,’’ tight end Evan Engram said. “When you miss time you just miss it so much when you come back it just adds that extra juice. I know he’s going got be the guy he is and be better and he’s gonna have a little edge to him just coming back out there.’’

Sunday against the Cardinals could be the first time anyone around the Giants has seen Angry Saquon. Engram has seen it — off the field.

“We’ve gotten into some arguments about some things before, some debates, I’ve seen him get worked up,’’ Engram said.

One of the most heated arguments? Engram (Ole Miss) avowing the superiority of the SEC and Barkley (Penn State) raising the flag of the Big Ten.

“You go after Big Ten, Penn State, those are some buttons you can press with him,’’ Engram said.

After missing the past three games, Barkley is ready to take his frustration out on someone, anyone.

“That’s good for us,’’ Engram said, “to have him mad at everybody else.’’

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Kym Marsh net worth: How much is Coronation Street star worth?

Kym Marsh , 43, first graced our screens in 2001 on reality show Popstars, where she formed the group Hear’Say. After a successful music career, and two number ones singles, she became an actress.

Initially she secured roles on Doctors and Holby City before eventually being cast as Michelle Connor in Coronation Street in 2006 – a role she is still in today.

Although Hear'Say would no doubt have made her a fair bit of money, in 2017 it was reported that she was earning £150,000 a year for playing her role on the popular soap.

She was said to be out earned only by Jack P Shepard, who reportedly made £200,000 a year for his role of David Platt. The ex wife of Jamie Lomas has also made money through presenting roles including The X Factor final in 2008.

Additionally Kym competed in the reality show Popstar to Opera star. Because of all this upwards career trajectory, the mum of four is estimated to be worth a whopping £4.3 million.

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However, in February she announced she was leaving the Coronation Street. Although this is sad news for fans, experts have said that it will be very good news for Kym’s bank balance. This is because she will now be able to take advantage of lucrative advertising work, as well as pantos, telly dramas and reality TV.

A source told The Sun: “Kym will really be able to test her earning power now and the roles and ad work will come pouring in. She will be able to bank a million by the end of the year, easily.”

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Andy Murray makes European Open second round but could quit if wife Kim gives birth – The Sun

ANDY MURRAY progressed into the European Open second round — but is ready to quit the tournament if his wife gives birth.

The Scot was pushed hard by Belgian Kimmer Coppejans before winning 6-4 7-6 in Antwerp.

Murray chose the event because he can easily catch a Eurostar or flight back to London if Kim suddenly goes into labour, with the couple expecting their third child this month.

Murray, 32, was making a first competitive visit to Belgium since his Davis Cup victory with Great Britain in Ghent in 2015, which ranks as one of his finest career achievements.

And this was his first singles match on European soil in a major event since hip surgery in January.

This time he was up against an opponent he had not played before and who has yet to win in the main draw of a significant event.

Murray, now ranked 243 in the world, had an ideal start, racing into a comfortable 3-0 lead.

The 25-year-old home favourite drew the match level at 3-3 though, helped by three Murray double faults.

Despite that, the Scot had enough firepower to take the first set in 40 minutes. But the second set was a tougher proposition, with Murray forced to cover far more ground.

He had to come from 3-1 down in the tie-break to clinch victory in 1hr 44 min.

The former world No 1 now faces either Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas or Bolivian Hugo Dellien on Thursday.

Cameron Norrie was knocked out in the first round, beaten by Murray’s doubles mate.

The British No 3 lost 7-6 6-4 to Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who hit 12 aces.

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U.N. peacekeeping mission to Haiti ends after 15 years with mixed legacy

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – The United Nations ended its 15-year-long peacekeeping and justice mission to stabilize Haiti on Tuesday with a mixed legacy highlighted by the fact the country is entering its fifth week of violent anti-government protests.

In 2004, the United Nations sent thousands of soldiers and police officers to restore order after a rebellion toppled then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Haiti was wracked by political and gang violence.

Two years ago, with the country more secure, it withdrew military personnel and said it would focus more on the justice system and law and order, with U.N. police officers training Haiti’s national police.

But critics question the extent to which the United Nations, which will retain a smaller political mission in Port-au-Prince, achieved its objectives of helping Haiti improve political stability and strengthen its rule of law institutions.

Schools and businesses have been shuttered in recent weeks due to protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. Demonstrators are angry over allegations of corruption by public officials and dire economic conditions in Haiti, which remains the poorest country in the Americas.

In one recent protest, thousands marched to the U.N. headquarters in the capital Port-au-Prince to demand it stop supporting Moise and complain about its alleged disrespect of Haitian sovereignty.

A U.N. statement released on Tuesday cited Jean-Pierre Lacroix, U.N. under-secretary-general for peace operations, saying the U.N. mission had fostered a better environment for democratic processes to take root but more political solutions were needed.

Other controversies have also dogged the United Nations in Haiti, including the introduction of cholera to the island and sexual abuse claims.

An epidemic of the waterborne disease broke out after peacekeepers accidentally dumped infected sewage into a river during recovery efforts after an earthquake in 2010 killed more than 300,000 people.

The United Nations has not accepted legal responsibility for the outbreak, which killed more than 10,000, although in late 2016 outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized to Haiti for the organization’s role and announced a $400 million fund to help affected Haitians.

But to date-the U.N. Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund has only raised about $10.5 million and a quarter of that has been spent, online U.N. figures show.

Meanwhile U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti have on several occasions been accused of rape. In 2011, then Uruguayan President Jose Mujica apologized for the alleged rape of an 18-year-old Haitian man by Uruguayan U.N. peacekeeping troops.

A year later, two Pakistanis were found guilty by a Pakistani military court of raping a 14-year old Haitian boy.

The United Nations and aid organizations have also faced criticism for slow reconstruction efforts due to a lack of coordination and bypassing the government and businesses.

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Erdogan says Turkey will never declare ceasefire in northern Syria: NTV

ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President Donald Trump that Turkey will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, and added that he was not worried about U.S. sanctions over Ankara’s offensive, broadcaster NTV reported on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said talks with Washington and Moscow on Syria’s Kobani and Manbij towns continued, and added it was “not negative” for the Syrian army to enter Manbij as long as militants in the area were cleared, NTV said.

He also said he told Trump that Turkey would “not negotiate with a terrorist organization” in response to Trump’s mediation offer.

Separately, the Turkish presidency said on Tuesday that Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria would contribute to counter-terrorism efforts, Syria’s territorial integrity, and a political solution process.

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