Health experts and the vaping industry have been quick to quell fears that UK vapers could be at risk following an outbreak of severe lung disease linked to e-cigs in the US.
American health officials asked the public to “consider not using e-cigarette products” on Friday (6 September) after 450 possible cases were recorded across the country. There have been five confirmed deaths in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.
Patients reported symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Federal health watchdog the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said a lung infection didn’t appear to be the cause.
The CDC has yet to identify a specific substance or vaping product linked to all cases, although many patients reported using products containing THC – the psychoactive compound in cannabis that provides a high. This is not to confused with CBD, which is found in many products legally on sale in the UK and is thought by some to help in the management inflammatory-based illnesses like arthritis.
Reports in America suggested that homemade products and those bought on the street were behind the outbreak.
Public Health England still advises that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. Its Head of Tobacco Control Martin Dockrell stressed the connection between the outbreak and illicit products.
“Unlike the US, all e-cigarette products in the UK are tightly regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and they operate the yellow card scheme, encouraging vapers to report any bad experiences,” he said.
Dan Marchant of the UK Vaping Industry Association commented: “It appears that the incidents in the USA are linked to people using illegal liquids, most likely black-market marijuana products (THC oils). Products such as these are illegal in the UK.
“That’s why Public Health England have rightly drawn a distinction between the situation in the USA and the UK; here in the UK there is a rigorously regulated market overseen by the MHRA. This means that vapers and smokers looking switch to vaping can therefore have the confidence that the products they are purchasing are of a high standard and safe.”