The 29 deaths and more than 1,000 illnesses related to e-cigarettes are likely a U.S.-specific phenomenon, according to experts.
Experts in toxicology and addiction said on Monday that there is no evidence of similar cases in Britain or elsewhere.
“What’s happening in the U.S. is not happening here, nor is it happening in any other countries where vaping is common,” said John Britton, a professor and respiratory medicine consultant and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at Nottingham University.
Britain currently has 3.6 million regular vape users. Oils with THC are banned and advertising is more tightly regulated than in the U.S.
Experts said they are concerned that illnesses in the U.S. will deter British residents from switching to nicotine-containing vapes to help them quit smoking. Rates of tobacco cigarette smoking are dropping more quickly in Britain than in the U.S.
“It would be a great shame if people were deterred from using e-cigarettes because of what’s happening in the U.S.,” said Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction at the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.
Other nations are considering or have already implemented bans on e-cigarettes after seeing the U.S. cases.
India announced a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes last month, citing concerns about illnesses in the U.S.
Malaysia has banned the sale of vape liquids with nicotine since 2015. The health minister said he is now contemplating a ban on e-cigarettes as a whole.
Britton said he disagreed with India’s decisions — and similar ones in the U.S. — because it may encourage people to smoke cigarettes instead.
“It’s a no-brainer — if you stay on cigarettes you will lose a day of life for every four days that you smoke,” he said. “A flat-out ban [on e-cigarettes] will kill people.”
🔦 E-cigarettes have caused nearly 30 deaths and 1,300 illnesses. Officials are still unsure exactly what is making users sick.