This is everything you need to know about the health risks of vaping

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 4:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 4:15 pm

A teenager in Washington DC has developed severe swelling in her throat and her doctors think that connections to vaping are "plausible".

But "plausible" isn't "verified".

According to NHS England, vaping is still considered "far safer than smoking" traditional cigarettes and this increase in people becoming sick from vaping does appear mostly in the US.

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What are the vaping health scares?

Anything from tooth decay, throat swelling, irreversible lung disease, and even death, have been linked to vaping e-liquid.

The Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA) is a UK Government watchdog. It is investigating two deaths in the past year potentially linked to e-cigarettes. It has also received 20 reports of serious adverse reactions to vaping e-liquid.

But a lot of these links are flimsy or not proven.

According to the Irish Times, the World Health Organisation has said "E-cigarettes can damage the brains of teenagers and harm growing foetuses", but this has been met with heavy criticism from English doctors, blaming the WHO for "blatant misinformation" surrounding the safety of e-cigarettes.

Vaping can help people quit smoking and tobacco products (Photo: Shutterstock)

What is causing ill health?

There are many unknowns when it comes to vaping. The devices were only invented in 2007, and we need more time to understand long term effects of vaping. But last year several US citizens were complaining of breathing difficulty. Since they all vaped, doctors began worrying that may be the cause.

It was soon discovered that an ingredient in e-juice called vitamin e acetate found in THC oil - a substance from cannabis plants- was identified as one of the main causes of this rare lung disease. Black market and homemade e-juices were also a culprit in increase in adverse reactions.

Martin Dockrell, head of Tobacco Control at Public Health England said at the time, “Unlike the US, all e-cigarette products in the UK are tightly regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and they operate the yellow card scheme, encouraging vapers to report any bad experiences.”

What do I do now?

Regardless of what side of the Atlantic you are on, there is one consensus - vaping is not "safe", but compared to cigarettes they are much safer. It has the potential to ween people from dependency on cigarettes. If you don't smoke, don't start vaping.

If you do vape, there is also evidence that vaping helps smokers quit - as well as a study at Dundee University which demonstrated how compared to smoking, vaping reduced blood pressure and helped blood vessels heal in ex smokers.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said, “Just because e-cigarettes may be less harmful than tobacco doesn’t mean they are completely safe."

"We know they contain significantly fewer of the harmful chemicals, which can cause diseases related to smoking, but we still don’t know the long-term impact on the heart and circulation, or other aspects of health."

"E-cigarettes and vaping should never be taken up by people who don’t already smoke, but could be a useful tool to help people to stop smoking completely."