Mystery illness linked to vaping takes more casualties

US prepares to take flavoured e-cigarettes off the shelves due to growing concern over youth uptake

Flavoured e-cigarettes could be taken off the shelves in the US due to concerns over young people taking up vaping. The UAE legalised the sale of electronic cigarettes in April.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
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As the numbers of vape related casualties continue to rise in the US, concern grows for the rising numbers of children taking-up flavoured e-cigarettes.

Authorities in America are considering a nationwide ban on smoke-free flavoured devices that deliver a nicotine hit following updated health official advice.

An 18-year-old student athlete from Illinois was the latest hospitalised, succumbing to a mystery lung illness after vaping for more than 18 months.

Doctors treating Adam Hergenreder said his lungs were in a similar condition to those of a 70-year-old adult.

The teenage wrestler suffered permanent lung damage, was short of breath and breathing heavily before receiving treatment.

He is one of about 450 cases where vapers have reported similar symptoms.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has called it an ‘outbreak’ while other American officials fear an epidemic of vaping among young people.

“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavoured e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” said US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

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The American Vaping Association said recent illnesses were likely caused by devices containing synthetic drugs like cannabis, and not nicotine.

The state of Michigan became the first to ban flavoured e-cigarettes completely this month, while the US Food and Drug Administration is finalising guidance to remove all non-tobacco flavours of e-cigarettes from shelves.

One of the largest flavoured vaping producers, Juul, is likely to be impacted if tighter regulations banning their sale comes into force.

Kevin Burns, Juul’s CEO, told US media his company’s memory-stick style nicotine inhalers were not aimed at children or non-smokers.

“There's never an intent on the company's part to target youths,” he said.

"We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final Food and Drug Administration policy when effective."

Meanwhile in the UAE, Dubai is preparing to host the region’s largest vaping expo next year.

Businesses will be hoping to find new profits in an emerging Middle East market at the three-day vaping expo at World Trade Centre from June 3.

The trade show will host more than 50 international suppliers of nicotine delivery products and smoke-free alternatives, with the public granted entry on day three.

The regulations on e-cigarette trade in the UAE were relaxed in April.

Before then, selling vaping products to consumers was illegal but owning and smoking them was not with devices widely used in public.

Online markets have since been flooded with wide ranging flavoured vapes and delivery products on sale and delivery in the UAE.

Nicotine content varies from 1.5mg to 50mg, with flavours including milkshake, fruits, dessert, menthol, candy and breakfast varieties at stores like UAE Vaping online.

A 100 per cent tax on e-cigarettes, vaping devices and tobacco refills will be applied from January, with digital excise stamps made available for purchase by producers and importers of e-cigarettes.