KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 – Public Health England (PHE) remained adamant that smokers should switch completely to vaping, despite a lung injury outbreak in the United States linked to e-cigarettes.
“It is not a problem linked to long-term use of regulated nicotine vaping products. If it were, we would expect to see a very different demographic profile affected, more typical of long-term vapers,” PHE, a British executive agency comprising public health specialists, said in a statement yesterday.
“Our concern is that the responses we have seen to the problem in the US and in other countries may increase the already widespread misunderstanding about the relative safety of nicotine e-cigarettes, deterring smokers from switching and risk driving vapers who have switched back to smoking.
“There is a real risk therefore that such a reaction will mean people continue to smoke, which will undoubtedly put lives at risk.”
Several countries have banned vaping, including India, Thailand, and Singapore, while Malaysia is also considering a prohibition on e-cigarettes. Several US states have banned flavoured vaping products.
According to PHE, getting expert support combined with using an e-cigarette doubled a smoker’s chances of quitting successfully. People who vape nicotine should stop smoking if they’re still lighting up and switch completely to vaping instead, and then come off nicotine when one is sure they won’t relapse to smoking, PHE advised, while those who have never smoked should not vape.
E-cigarettes containing nicotine are more tightly regulated in the UK than in the US, PHE said, and the UK’s medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) oversees tobacco regulations.
The main chemicals under suspicion in the US, such as THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana, and vitamin E acetate oil, are not permitted in e-cigarettes in the UK.
“We are as certain as ever that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, which kills almost 220 people in England every day.”Public Health England
PHE further said that e-cigarettes are not risk-free, but are far less harmful than cigarettes by 95 per cent.
But PHE acknowledges that the illicit drugs market is global and it is possible that similar products to those in the US are available in the UK.
Therefore, it issued a warning of this new and serious threat and said that it will continue to monitor carefully the situation in the UK.
“We are keen to understand more about what is happening in the US, so we’re in regular contact with US federal agencies including the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.”
“We are also working closely with our expert advisors on respiratory health and the MHRA,” it added.
According to the CDC, 36 vaping-related deaths and 1,604 lung injury cases linked with e-cigarettes have been reported in the US. The CDC found that those who died in the outbreak connected to vaping often used products solely containing THC, not nicotine.