They believe vaping is so dangerous that Britain should follow the lead of other countries and clamp down or ban it. Professor Peter Hajeck, of the Wolfson Institute Of Preventive Medicine in London, warned the UK’s 3.6 million users that vaping is not safe. It follows 14 deaths in the US this year and two cases of deadly lung disease in the UK linked to vaping.
The use of e-cigarettes has divided health experts, with some, including Public Health England, highlighting their potential to help people quit smoking. Others fear they may be as deadly as cigarettes and a gateway to smoking for youngsters.
Prof Hajeck stressed: “Vaping isn’t safe. We don’t know the long-term risks and non-smokers should not use e-cigarettes, though the risk is far less than smoking.”
He said up to 90,000 vapers may go on to develop serious or potentially fatal health problems.
Prof Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The UK is out of step with other countries which are banning them. They contain ingredients that may be safe as food ingredients but most have never been tested for inhalation. When combined and heated they can produce new, noxious substances.
“They should not be widely available as retail products and should only be used under strict medical supervision.” England’s former chief medical officer last month raised fears that vaping is “a as bad cigarettes’ ticking time bomb” which could do long-term harm.
Prof Dame Sally Davies spoke out just before President Donald Trump revealed plans to ban flavoured vaping products. Prof Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research at the University of California, said: “Your health authorities in England are walking round with rose-tinted glasses.
“The idea that vaping would be a good thing and less dangerous than cigarettes is not only crazy, it is blind to the evidence. They are as dangerous as cigarettes.”
His comments echo a recent paper published in the European Respiratory Journal which concluded there is “no evidence that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco in the long term”.
And last week a review in the British Medical Journal concluded e-cigarettes are toxic and not necessarily safer than cigarettes. They can cause damage to lung cells and immune function.
In the US 14 people have died from lung diseases this year and 805 others have severe breathing problems suspected to be linked to vaping. In 80 percent of these cases, victims had a black market e-cigarette containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of cannabis. In this country vaping has been linked to at least two deadly cases of lung disease.
Writing in the British Medical Journal last year, four Birmingham doctors revealed how a “young female vaper” was hospitalised with the deadly lung condition that has affected some victims in the US – lipoid pneumonia (when fat particles enter the lungs).
In another case, Terry Miller, 57, from Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, died in 2010 of the same condition – eight months after he swapped cigarettes for e-cigarettes. Doctors said oil from vaping fluid was found on his lungs.
The UK drug watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, has listed 200 health problems with suspected links to vaping.
NHS figures show 25 percent of children aged 11 to 15 have tried vaping, while 16 percent have had cigarettes. The number of adults vaping has risen by 70 percent in two years.
Thailand, Brazil, India and Singapore have banned it and Denmark has warned that “nobody should be smoking e-cigarettes”. But Martin Dockrell, of Public Health England, said: “The UK has some of the world’s strictest e-cigarette regulations. Our advice remains that, in the UK, they carry a fraction of the risk of smoking.”
UK Vaping Industry Association spokesman John Dunne said: “Public Health England has rightly drawn a distinction between the situation in the USA and the rigorously regulated market in the UK.”