UK Responses To Reported US Deaths
Following vaping reports from the US, UK health experts are reassuring UK vapers that these incidents are exclusively happening in the US and there have been no similar incidents reported in the UK.
The American Vaping Association (AVA) has linked the deaths to cannabis oil products which are being purchased illegally, a spokesman has stated;
“We agree with the FDA … stop vaping illegal THC oils immediately” – The American Vaping Association
They are maintaining their position that, for adult smokers and ex-smokers, using registered nicotine vape products purchased from reputable retailers in the manner in which they are intended, is much less harmful than smoking.
UK health organisations continue to endorse e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to smoking and are asking UK vapers to not let the US reports deter them from continuing to use an e-cigarette as a stop smoking aid and jeopardise a successfully quit attempt.
What Is Known About The Reports?
- Full investigations into the incidents are currently being conducted by the US CDC but the results are yet to be released.
- The type of vaping products involved in the US cases are being reported as not nicotine based, but instead are said to contain high levels of THC oil, along with other substances such as butane gas and tocopherol acetate. There are now some US States where marijuana has been legalised, however it is still illegal in the UK so these kinds of products are not available to purchase in UK stores.
- The products in question are reported to have been purchased through the black market, and not from reputable retailers. This means they are unlikely to have been subject to the quality check and regulations that registered products undergo.
- There have been no reports of serious side effects to vaping in the UK.
Public Health England
PHE have released the following statement reassuring UK vapers that the situation in the US is vastly different to that in the UK, and they will be continuing to endorse e-cigarettes as 95% less harmful than smoking;
“A full investigation is not yet available but we’ve heard reports that most of these cases were linked to people using illicit vaping fluid bought on the streets or homemade, some containing cannabis products, like THC, or synthetic cannabinoids, like Spice. 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 and they operate the Yellow Card Scheme, encouraging vapers to report any bad experiences.
Our advice remains that e-cigarettes are a fraction of the risk of smoking, and using one makes it much more likely you’ll quit successfully than relying on willpower alone. But it’s important to use UK-regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances, any of which could be harmful.” – Public Health England
University Of Edinburgh
Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, Linda Bauld, has expressed her concerns that these incidents could lead to misinformation about the safety of vaping in the following the statement;
“It seems highly unlikely that widely available nicotine containing vaping products, particularly of the type regulated in Europe, are causing these cases. Authorities who are reacting to these cases by advising no one to vape are by default sending the message to people who have quit smoking through vaping that they should return to tobacco.
This is misleading, and potentially irresponsible. Authorities in the USA should be prioritising confirming the causes and addressing this illicit market, not pushing people back to smoking which we know carries multiple risks to health.” – Linda Bauld, University of Edinburgh
UK Vaping Industry Association
In response to the recent events, Dan Marchant of the UK Vaping Industry Association said:
“Whilst full details remain unclear, and the position of some authorities in the USA remains contradictory, 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.
As a trade association, the UKVIA will continue our discussions with the public health community to help share best practice and advice. As always, we advise consumers to only purchase their vaping products from reputable retailers where they can seek expert advice if they require it. But it is important to remember that the advice from Public Health England remains the same – vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and it is the most effective way for UK’s remaining 7 million smokers to quit.” – Dan Marchant, UK Vaping Industry Association
Deborah Arnott, current Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said:
“After five confirmed deaths and 450 reported cases of lung illness linked with use of e-cigarettes in the US, it’s understandable that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people stop vaping. However, to put this in context, the CDC’s own figures show that cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 US deaths a year and for every death another 30 people are living with a serious smoking-related illness. It would be a mistake for any vaper who stops vaping to revert to smoking.”
“ASH is concerned that the reports from the US will be discouraging vaping in the UK. British vapers can be reassured that there have been no reports of serious side effects from UK e-cigarettes. But they should only be buying from mainstream suppliers who are selling regulated products, to use black market products carries risks that can’t be quantified.”
“You’re terrifying people who are benefiting from vaping by not smoking,” said Clive Bates, the former Chief Executive of ASH and a strong defender of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. Bates argued that authorities should be delivering more targeted warnings about unregulated products.
As a member of the UKVIA and a reputable vaping retailer, we offer a wide range of registered vaping products and our highly trained team are available to advise anyone who has concerns regarding the US reports.