UK government’s vaping policies are endangering our health, suggest evidence

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In the UK vaping products are easily accessible. In contrast, such products are much more restricted in Australia. And the question of access is important because studies show vape usage presents a general health hazard.

Health hazards of vaping

A May 2021 systematic review, published in Heart & Lung, found vaping is directly associated with lung injury. Moreover, a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute paper, published in 2019, warned that vaping:

may cause harmful effects to lung tissue, including inflammation and genetic damage that could indicate long-term risk for respiratory disease and even cancer

So what do vapes contain that’s of concern?

A Harvard Medical School paper, published in June, pointed out that US vaping products can contain the following:

  • nicotine
  • ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
  • volatile organic compounds
  • cancer-causing chemicals
  • heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

In addition, according to one lung cancer expert, substances commonly found in vapes can include:

  • Diacetyl: This food additive, used to deepen e-cigarette flavors, is known to damage small passageways in the lungs.
  • Formaldehyde: This toxic chemical can cause lung disease and contribute to heart disease.
  • Acrolein: Most often used as a weed killer, this chemical can also damage lungs

Research shows vaping can lead to conventional smoking

In 2022, a systematic review conducted by researchers at the Australian National University found that vaping:

Read on...

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increases the risk of multiple adverse health outcomes, including poisoning, addiction, seizures, burns, lung injury and smoking uptake.

Furthermore, ABC News said the review found:

“substantial evidence” that e-cigarette use results in dependence on nicotine, and that e-cigarettes can increase the uptake of tobacco smoking in people who don’t smoke.

Alarmingly, professor Emily Banks, who led the review, told ABC News that it found:

Young non-smokers who vape are around three times as likely to take up smoking than non-vapers

Teenagers and young adults especially at risk

A July 2022 paper, published in the British Medical Journal, argued that the biggest uptake of vaping is by teenagers and young adults. The study concluded:

The true impact of vaping on respiratory health will manifest over the coming decades, but in the interval a prudent and time tested recommendation remains to abstain from consumption of inhaled nicotine and other products.

A UK government report identified a legal loophole that allows shops and companies to give free samples of vaping products to be given to persons of any age. The report also refers to a survey that revealed 24.8% of persons aged 11 to 17 have admitted that friends had given them vaping products.

Meanwhile, a small US study, published in the Harvard Gazette, showed around 28% of high school students were vape users. That’s despite evidence that vaping can lead to “small airway obstruction and asthma-like symptoms”.

Vaping products availability in the UK

Anyone 18 years and over can buy vaping products in the UK – including those containing nicotine – without a prescription. The NHS states it will next review that practice in October 2025.

In June, the Guardian reported how several pro-vaping lobby groups are promoting their products via social media. They include Save My Vape and #BackVapingSaveLives.

Global Britain Ltd, which is headed by former Brexit party politician Brian Monteith, is linked to Save My Vape as well as Say No To WHO (World Health Organisation).

We Vape UK is another lobby group, set up by an Adam Smith Institute (ASI) fellow. It runs the #BackVapingSaveLives campaign. ASI has received sponsorship from Japan Tobacco International.

Other approaches to vaping availability

Meanwhile, Australia has adopted a more restrictive approach to vaping. There, it’s illegal for persons “to possess a nicotine-filled vape unless they are over 18 and have a prescription to help them stop smoking”.

In May 2023, BBC News reported that Australia is set to ban recreational vaping for users of all ages. As a result, only pharmacies will supply vaping products. The country will also ban disposable vapes.

In Singapore, restrictions are even more severe: all vapes are illegal. In the US it is complicated, with each state legislating differently.

Further restrictions needed

Earlier this month, councils across England and Wales urged Westminster to place a ban on single-use products by 2024 on health and environmental grounds. The throwaway products, they point out, are also a fire risk and a pollutant.

MPs are demanding action too – but only in regard to the packaging and marketing of single-use vapes.

Associate professor of public health Becky Freeman makes it clear we need to go much further, commenting:

The ideal public health solution would see the elimination of all vaping product sales, nicotine and non-nicotine alike, that fall outside of the prescription-only access pathway.

Indeed, given the numerous health risks outlined via evidence-based clinical studies, such a recommendation makes sense. It only remains for the government to act upon that evidence. Or, as with its handling of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it will risk accusations of again being asleep at the wheel.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – TBEC Review cropped 770×403 pixels

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  • Show Comments
    1. And here’s an interesting report: When the Gaza Strip banned vaping, it was soon discovered that the politicians who had pushed the measure received no small kickbacks from the tobacco importers themselves.

      And when we would look elsewhere, we will find the same. Just like Mary Jane, those who are most “Up In Arms” WILL have connections to suppliers of competing addictive products.

      Other things that harm our lungs:


      But then I guess bicycle manufacturers lack that extra “lobbying” clout.

      So HERE’S A FUCKING THOUGHT, that will never have passed a single Leftist and Rightist Puritanical braincell: It is NOT YOUR JOB to tell adults how to live their lives, capeesh? It’s not up to you to tell them they cannot have a glass of red, a pint of guinness, a smoke, a vape, how much time they spend gaming, how many endorphins from exercise they must limit to, whether they go to religious ceremies or raves, or any other things that IS AN ADULT’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE IF THEY SO WISH.

      The MOST you should be limited to doing is informing of actual risks. So drinking 3-4 bottles of red a day will hurt your liver. Thanks. An ounce of Mary Jane a day will harm your lungs, and wobble your sense of ego and self. Thanks. Vaping may hurt your lungs due to “Microfine particles”. Thanks.

      All noted. Now piss off back to your Puritan ‘Perfectionist’ Hellhole and make sure YOU live to be a miserable 107, and leave the fucking rest of us alone.

      Here’s a head’s up – WE KNOW.

      So take your fucking nannying attitude and “We’s knows betters than You’se!” schtick, and go and find people WHO REALLY DO NEED YOUR HELP.

      Starving families trying to find food for their hungry crying kids is a good choice. Or disabled people being “sanctioned”.

      Australia is rapidly becoming an Authoritarian Shithole, I mean, GUESS WHERE THE POLICY OF ILLEGALLY SENDING REFUGEES came from? And which was the only Western country that actually BOARDED UP entire blocks of flats because “unclean” covid-sneezers were inside?

      I don’t think pointing to Oz for policies is a recommendation these days. It’s a bit like pointing to the UK for an economic, or even just an industrial policy.

      “It was just an example zomgs!”.

      Then try find a better example, fx a drug-liberal country like Holland or Portugal’s approach. TBH I have absolutely no idea what those countries are doing in this regard, but I’d be surprised if it was as hysterical and authoritarian as the retarded 5-Eyes countries.

      “But it CAUSES HARM!!! WAHHHH!!!”.

      Take. Your. Fake. Authoritarian/Humanitarian. Concerns. And. Apply. Them. Exactly. Where. They. Are. Needed, And. Required. Which. Is. OVER. YOUR. *OWN.* LIFE!

      Do you know what else REALLY reduces lifespan, and enjoyment of living? Being massively EXPLOITED, and denied a political voice.

      When the USA brought in Prohibition, the US Salvation Army was ecstatic – at first.

      By its end, they were one of the most vocal to stop it. You really should look up the reasons they gave why.

      “Vaping causes harm”. LIVING causes harm, you dimwits. Picture your life with ALL “harm” items removed.

      No phones. No PCs. No TV screens. No cars. No artificial foods, sweeteners, colourings, flavourings. No take-aways. No artificial fabrics against your skin. No flights, no pubs, no alcohol, no summer sunlight for more than 20mins. No processed foods, no natural foods with pesticides, herbicides sprayed.

      SOME people literally cannot wait for 1984 to happen, so they can ORDER the folk to do their 20 press-ups a day, – it is “For Their Own Good”, and not at all because SOME people really love having “power” and exercising it.

      That new SNP bloke has the right idea – TELL people it’s harmful, leave it up to them, and help mop up the mess afterwards for the few who lack self-control, with compassion and caring.

      Do you know WHY?

      Because WE ARE NOT YOUR PROPERTY, that’s why.

      We are our OWN property, we OWN OURSELVES, and we OWN OUR LIVES, to enjoy/damage as we see it, so much as puritanical, Perfectionist c*nts will let us so do.

      Enough already. “Vaping can be harmful”. Noted. Thanks for that TOTALLY USEFUL information, I’m sure that’s news to every vaper out there.

      Hey, remove Aspertame and Saccarin from YOUR diet – or else you might live 45mins shorter, or a few hours, or a few decades shorter, because they are HARMFUL.

      But here again, I guess Cuba’s sugar industry just don’t have the same ‘lobbying’ power as Big Tobacco, or Big Pharma.

      TBH, I’m not even surprised, or disappointed by the Canary’s approach here. It is rather typical leftist non-thought “For your own good” Putritanism. I hope this rant may have shone some light in how many of the rest of us see such matters.

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