Vaping is a global phenomenon. Since e-liquid became more widely available around a decade ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the number of vapers has increased fivefold to a whopping 35 million worldwide. This is expected to rise even further, to 55 million, by 2021.
This extraordinary popularity can be linked to a growing number of individuals picking up a vape pen as an alternative to smoking tobacco and the enormous online community that has been built around it as a hobby.
But recently, vaping has been hitting the headlines for a very different reason. In mid-August of this year, officials in the US reported the first death attributed to e-cigarette use. A patient in Illinois succumbed to a mysterious lung condition which the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say was caused by vaping. Days later, the New York Times published an article detailing what it called an “epidemic” 215 similar cases of respiratory ilnnesses across 25 states.
This has understandably caused some degree of panic among e-cigarette users. Is vaping suddenly a potentially fatal hobby? We want to clear some things up.
Disclaimer: SmokShop is not medically qualified to provide advice about the health risks and benefits of vaping. This article is solely intended to provide our customers in the UK with clarity regarding the ongoing situation in the US. Please consult a doctor or trusted medical resource for more information.
Is vaping bad for your health?
Compared to most widely available products that carry potential health consequences, e-cigarettes are a relatively new invention. This means that medical researchers have only had a limited time to conduct in-depth studies as to their exact long-term effects. The most honest answer to the question “is vaping bad for you?” is that we’re not entirely sure.
Based on the evidence that we have at the moment, vaping is perfectly safe. It’s certainly much better for you than smoking tobacco, as it doesn’t involve inhaling tar and carbon monoxide into the deepest parts of your lungs. One of the most comprehensive studies of e-cigarette safety published so far, conducted by government agency Public Health England, found that vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco and holds significant potential for adults looking to quit smoking.
What’s going on?
The most important thing to note about the ongoing news stories involving vaping is that these cases are currently isolated to the US. The American Vaping Association believes that the outbreak of respiratory illnesses is being caused by unlicensed retailers manufacturing and distributing tainted products containing THC, the active component in cannabis, which is now legal in many US states.
The CDC has said that the majority of the 215 cases it’s investigating involves the use of THC liquids. Its current advice to the general public is to stop purchasing bootleg or street products, avoid vaping oils—as it is considered a risk factor for lipoid pneumonia—and to check their labels.
Regulation of vaping products differs massively between the US and the UK, so customers in the UK have no need to panic about the apparent ‘epidemic’ of lung conditions in the US. Experts have speculated that this is likely tied to a particular product or unlicensed market issue.
How to vape safely
While there is currently no reason to believe that vapers in the UK could be affected by ongoing reports of health problems in the US, there are some precautions consumers can take to protect their health:
- Always buy from a reputable supplier: It’s entirely possible that more unlicensed or bootleg dealers of e-liquids and vape pens could start cropping up as the popularity of vaping increases. Checking the validity of your chosen supplier is absolutely crucial.
- Consult with a medical professional: Vape shops, such as SmokShop, aren’t qualified to advise on health benefits or risks. If you’re concerned about potentially harmful effects, we urge you to consult with your doctor.
- Check your labels for banned substances: Simply looking at what’s on the back of the bottle could be an essential step in protecting yourself. Potentially harmful substances that aren’t allowed under UK or EU law includes THC, colourings, caffeine and taurine.
The CDC investigation in the US is still underway, as are a number of large-scale medical studies into the safety of e-cigarettes. Until the results of these have been released, the onus is very much on the consumer to protect themselves by buying from reputable suppliers such as SmokShop.