Below is what the IBVTA has to say. Essentially, don't vape weird stuff and stick to juice that's been regulated and only contains PG & VG and flavouring.
The scare is a bit fake. It's like saying loads of people have died from drinking whisky so all whisky should be banned. Turns out that the people who died had been drinking whisky made in a shed in the woods by lunatics. It's not a reason to be worried about properly made whisky.
Fact Sheet on incidents reported in US and UK media
The US authorities are issuing statements and warnings about ‘’e-cigarettes’’ and ‘’vaping’’, but what is the real story?
The real story is that all the evidence is currently suggesting that these illnesses have been caused by the
use of black market cannabis products - THC carts - not by vaping nicotine e-liquid.
THC is a cannabinoid which gives the user the ‘’high’’ associated with marijuana use. In the US, in states
which have legalised cannabis and indeed in others where it remains illegal, some people engage in
‘’dabbing’’, a slang term for using marijuana oils in vape-like devices specially designed for the purpose.
The terminology used by cannabis users for these products varies, but ‘’carts’’ is one of the most common
This is not the same activity as using an e-cigarette with liquids made from alcohol-based diluents like
propylene glycol, glycol and nicotine – the ingredients in a commercially available vaping product.
When did these issues arise?
The first reports emerged at the beginning of August. By the 3rd week of August there were at least five
State public health departments who had already identified that THC products were implicated in the
cases they were investigating.
Isn’t cannabis legal in some US states?
Yes, and in states where cannabis is legalised, regulated dispensaries are highly controlled. In the
majority of cases these outbreaks are happening in states where cannabis remains prohibited. Black
market operators buy disposable ‘carts’ and fill them with THC oil and may either use counterfeit
packaging to disguise them as legal products, or package them as ‘’Dank Vapes’’. Dank Vapes is not a
brand, but a packaging
What’s in the products that’s causing people to be ill?
That is not yet fully clear. When THC is extracted from the cannabis plant, extraction methods vary in the
type of agents used. What’s known to date is that some black market operators ‘dilute’ the liquid they are
using to fill the carts with, thereby using less of the expensive ingredient, but disguising this by using
thickening agents. These thickening agents lead the user to believe these carts are of a ‘higher quality’ or
potency than they are.
The US authorities have so far suggested that Vitamin E acetate is being used as a thickening agent, as it
is one substance common in the products they have tested to date. Other experts have said there may be
other contaminants which are causing these respiratory injuries.
Is vaping nicotine causing these incidents?
No. Some of the people involved have reported that they were using e-cigaretttes as well as or at the
same time as THC oil. Others may not be informing health professionals of their THC use because they
fear the consequences or discomfort in admitting buying illicit products.
Dr Micheal Siegel has suggested that in their advice to health professionals, the Centres for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) have been irresponsible and negligent because they are not
recommending that doctors test people who present with suspected cases specifically for THC. He says:
‘’The glaring omission in the CDC's recommendations for clinicians is that they failed to
recommend that clinicians conduct a sensitive urine drug screen for THC in every patient.
This is the only way to determine with reasonable accuracy whether a patient used a
THC-containing product. Simply relying on self-reports is not sensitive enough because many
youth will understandably hide the fact that they were using an illicit, black market drug that was
essentially obtained from drug dealers. Every patient needs to be tested for THC.
The failure to recommend this testing indicates to me that the CDC is not serious about really
wanting to be able to invoke THC oils as a cause of these illnesses if they truly are the cause. By
not recommending this testing, the CDC is ensuring that there is no way that THC will be
implicated in every case. This, by definition, will leave open the possibility that traditional
e-cigarettes are causing some of the cases, allowing the CDC to emphasize that people should
not use e-cigarettes!’’
Why are the media in Britain and the US getting the reporting of this so wrong?
In some cases, it is a simple case of biases against e-cigarettes and vaping.
Others, especially in this country, are simply choosing to reprint the misleading and irresponsible
statements from US Federal agencies to avoid or stop using ‘’e-cigarettes’’.
This is irresponsible for two reasons; because cannabis users don't use the same terminology as nicotine
vapers and by health authorities doing so they knowingly cause the link between vaping nicotine and
using THC to be confused in the minds of the public, and because by not making clear the distinction
between the activity - vaping, and the substance being inhaled - black market, tainted THC oil, they are
not properly informing the public on the specific substance - black market, tainted THC oil - that should be
What are UK public health experts advising?
Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Authorities who are reacting
to these cases by advising no one to vape are by default sending the message to people who have quit
smoking through vaping that they should return to tobacco. This is misleading, and potentially
irresponsible. Authorities in the USA should be prioritising confirming the causes and addressing this illicit
market, not pushing people back to smoking which we know carries multiple risks to health.”
Public Health England have reaffirmed that their position and advice on vaping has not changed: "In light
of the current wave of anti-vaping hysteria coming from the US, vapers and smokers here should be
aware that the position of Public Health England has not shifted.
Our advice on e-cigarettes remains unchanged - vaping isn’t completely risk free but is far less harmful
than smoking tobacco. There is no situation where it would be better for your health to continue smoking
rather than switching completely to vaping.
All UK e-cigarette products are tightly regulated for quality and safety by MHRA. It’s important to use
UK-regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances, any of
which could be harmful.
Smoking kills thousands every year & creating a smokefree generation is one of our top priorities. Vaping
is a fraction of the risk of smoking and makes it much more likely you’ll quit successfully than relying on
willpower alone. The sooner you stop smoking completely the better."
Dr Lion Shahab, Associate Professor in Health Psychology at University College London, said: "Legal
products available in the UK are compliant with EU regulation, using propylene glycol and glycerine as
suspension and carrier liquid for nicotine and flavourings to produce the vapour, not oil. Standard e-liquids
have been used safely by millions of people to help them stop smoking for over a decade now, without
any of the adverse health effects reported in the US."