Vaping illness, deaths likely very rare beyond U.S., experts say

LONDON (Reuters) – E-cigarette or vaping-linked lung injuries that have killed 29 and sickened more than 1,000 people in the United States are likely to be rare in Britain and other countries where the suspect products are not widely used, specialists said on Monday.

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Experts in toxicology and addiction said they are sure that the 1,299 confirmed and probable American cases of serious lung injuries linked to vaping are “a U.S.-specific phenomenon,” and there is no evidence of a similar pattern of illness in Britain or elsewhere.

“What’s happening in the U.S. is not happening here (in Britain), 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 & Alcohol Studies at Nottingham University.

“It’s a localised problem,” he told a London briefing.

U.S. investigators and health officials have said there may be more than one cause for the cases of vaping lung illness. They have also pointed to vaping oils containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, as being especially risky.

In Britain, which currently has 3.6 million regular e-cigarette users, such oils are banned and advertising of vapes is much more tightly regulated than in the United States, said Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction at the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London.

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