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Reports of a possible link between e-cigarette use and deaths from lung disease in America have led some medical experts to warn of the dangers of vaping.

So far 6 people have died in America from lung disease linked to vaping and health officials are reporting that there are now 450 possible cases of  lung illnesses among e-cigarette users, which are being investigated by America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ASH Wales is concerned to hear of these cases, which could lead to uncertainty over the safety of e-cigarettes among Wales’ vaping community.

In a bid to answer some of the questions vapers may have in the wake of media reports about the situation in America, we contacted the UK government organisation responsible for regulating e-cigarette products in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Is it safe to vape in the UK, given the cases that are being investigated in the US?

E-cigarette products are regulated and must meet safety and quality standards before they can be sold in the UK.

The MHRA is aware of reports in the USA regarding a number of patients falling ill following vaping and are reviewing the available information. The MHRA assess all reports received in association with nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and should any potential safety concerns be identified we will take appropriate action to protect public health.”

What do we know about why people have been falling ill after using an e-cigarette in the US?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control many patients affected by possible cases of lung illness report using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Are vape products containing THC sold in the UK?

THC is a controlled substance in the UK and there are no vaping products containing THC which are approved for sale on the UK market.

Recreational use of THC is illegal and the use of illicit drugs can have potentially dangerous side effects because they have not been subject to the safety and quality standards put in place to protect public health.

What advice would you give to people concerned about using e-cigarettes in Wales?

It is advised that vaping products are not modified or used with homemade or black market cartridges, containing illicit substances, in order to preserve the health of their users.

The MHRA runs the notification scheme in the UK for e-cigarettes devices and nicotine containing e-liquids, which in order to be notified need comply with the Tobacco and Related Product Regulations. We encourage all consumers to ensure that they are buying notified products from reputable retailers. The MHRA also receives reports of potential safety concerns and work with local Trading Standards teams to investigate as needed.

Have there been any reports of people falling ill in the UK after using an e-cigarette?

Between 20/05/2016 – 06/09/2019, the MHRA has received 62 spontaneous UK Yellow Card reports of adverse reactions associated with nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. The MHRA encourages members of the public and healthcare professionals to report any potential side-effects associated with e-cigarettes to the Yellow Card Scheme (https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/).

It is essential to note that a report of an adverse reaction does not necessarily mean that it was caused by the e-cigarette, but a suspicion by the reporter that the e-cigarette may have been the cause. Other factors such as the underlying disease or concomitant medicines may contribute to suspected adverse reactions.

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