If you’ve heard about the recent outbreak of a mysterious vaping related illness that is making its way across the US, then you may be wondering whether or not it’s safe to vape and if you might be affected. Let’s take a look at the details and provide some reassurance that it is safe to vape in the UK despite what’s happening in the US.
What is happening in the US?
First reported in September, the e-cigarette news that has been occupying the headlines around the world is the outbreak of a serious lung disease that has been sweeping across the US. With over 1,500 cases reported from 49 states, the disease has sadly accounted for 38 deaths to date. The high number of cases and fatalities speak volumes about the severity of the disease, though the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) who are investigating, have said that the illness is confined to a specific group of people.
With the majority of patients identified as young males (70% male with an average age of 24), the predominantly common theme is that patients with the lung illness had been vaping products that contained THC. `While this may be a regular theme among the illnesses, the team at the CDC who have been investigating the case say there isn’t a specific substance that they can conclusively identify as the cause. Additionally, it appears that the THC containing products that may be responsible had been sourced illicitly from street dealers or from friends and family who may have obtained those products from the black market. Confusingly, while no specific chemicals have been attributed as the cause, the CDC says that it is not clear whether all the cases are even the same kind of lung disease.
The illicit nature of e liquids potentially vaped by many of the patients has led to a US-based study of illegal e-liquids. Of 12 illicit e-liquid cartridges tested, 9 contained dangerously high levels of Vitamin E – a substance banned by the TPD and not found in UK or EU made e liquid cartridges. Worryingly, of the 12 THC vape cartridges, all contained pesticides, including myclobutanil, which breaks down into the highly poisonous hydrogen cyanide when vaped and inhaled.
Due to the sudden outbreak of illnesses, states across the US have begun to ban and limit the sales of various e-liquid flavours, while the US administration explores the idea of a nationwide ban. But what does this kind of legislation mean for those who value vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco products, who use e-cigarettes to stay smoke-free?
Outbreak Not Associated to Long Term Vaping
An item of information that may provide US vapers with some hope is that the CDC, do not believe that the current outbreak of lung-illnesses is related to long-term vaping. With an estimated 9 million US vapers currently enjoying the benefits that e-cigarettes afford, the danger of vilifying the vaping industry and banning e cigarettes could mean that the millions of US vapers may be warned off vaping entirely and consequently return to smoking tobacco cigarettes to satisfy their cravings for nicotine.
E-Cigarettes Still Far-Less Harmful Than Smoking
It should come as no surprise that the illegal drugs market is a global market, which means that any harmful products in the US have the potential to make their way to UK shores. While the threat of illicit e liquids finding their way to the UK remains, the advice for vapers is to stay vigilant and avoid the temptation of vaping e liquids if you’re uncertain about where the e liquid has been sourced from.
Ensure that what you’re vaping is safe and always buy your e-liquid from a reputable brand that has good reviews to back it up. E liquids from companies such as Vapour2 will use only the best ingredients and are lab tested for your safety per the Tobacco Product Directive.
The advice of Public Health England (PHE) is that e-cigarettes are still far less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes and that vaping has the potential to provide smokers with a route to becoming smoke-free. An independent study conducted in 2015 and published by PHE says that e-cigarettes are up to 95% less harmful than smoking, while more recent research indicates that vaping is up to twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products such as patches and gums.