Published on: Friday 13th September 2019

Public Health England and Breathe2025 have produced short statements in relation to recent media coverage from the USA in relation to electronic cigarettes, and in particular, reports of a 'mystery vaping illness'. These statements are given below.


Reports of US lung disease outbreak

As we approach Stoptober, amidst reports of an outbreak in the US of serious lung disease that was reported as linked to vaping, smokers may well be wondering if e-cigarettes are still a good way to quit.

A full investigation is not yet available but indications are that these cases have been linked to people using illicit vaping fluid bought on the streets or homemade, some containing cannabis products like THC or synthetic cannabinoids like Spice, and others Vitamin E acetate oil.

This is not the same as using UK regulated nicotine 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 and they operate the Yellow Card Scheme, encouraging vapers to report any adverse effects.

Public Health England’s advice remains that vaping carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking. Using a nicotine-containing e-cigarette makes it much more likely someone will quit successfully than relying on willpower alone – three studies this year have found them twice as effective as NRT alone. But it’s important to use UK-regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances.

Breathe2025 -

“Adult and youth smoking rates in the Yorkshire and the Humber are at a historic low as a result of a concerted tobacco control programme in recent years. Smoking combustible tobacco is dangerous and each day results in 15 people in the North East dying from an avoidable smoking related condition. In recent years many thousands of former smokers have used electronic cigarettes –including flavoured liquids- as a means of quitting smoking. Their use by children remains very low.

The regulations around electronic cigarettes in the UK are much more tightly controlled than in the USA and we also have a more comprehensive approach in general to reducing tobacco smoking including much heavier restrictions on tobacco advertising and marketing.

The evidence so far from the USA suggests that the six reported deaths relate to vaping unregulated street drugs with the use of black market cartridges containing THC and clearly full investigations need to take place. In the USA this year alone nearly half a million people will die from a tobacco smoking related illness.

Breathe2025 is closely monitoring the evidence base around vaping and supports the position from Public Health England that using electronic cigarettes/vaping carries a significantly reduced level of harm than continuing to smoke tobacco. For any person in the North East who is currently vaping we would advise that they do not switch back onto smoking tobacco as result of these scare stories from the USA.”