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BMA to investigate the dangers of vaping

Doctors at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Liverpool have voted through a motion highlighting the “public health epidemic” of vaping.

Doctors at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Liverpool have voted through a motion highlighting the “public health epidemic” of vaping.

Following the vote, the BMA agreed to review the dangers posed by e-cigarettes so that everyone is aware of the known harms of vaping.

Nine in 10 backed the motion in full

The full motion by Lothian Division asked the conference’s attendees to back calls for the Board of Science to re-review vaping and e-nicotine products. The review is expected to include discussions on:

  • the dangers of vaping and e-nicotine consumption to children and adults;
  • stopping the illegal sale and proxy purchases of vape pens and other e-nicotine products to people under the age of 18;
  • banning all marketing of vape pens/e-cigarettes and the establishment of a plain packaging system in the same vein as tobacco products;
  • banning all e-nicotine/vape pen flavouring; and
  • including history of e-nicotine use as a regular/essential part of patient history and examination.

In total, 91% agreed to back the motion in full, 8% were against and 1% chose to abstain.

An environmental and health concern

Responding to the vote, Professor David Strain, BMA Board of Science chair, said: “While originally launched as aids to help people stop smoking, it’s clear that e-cigarettes are now being used more widely than for this intended purpose.

“The World Health Organization has declared them harmful and evidence to date confirms the dangers of vaping and e-nicotine consumption, particularly for children. Single-use, disposable e-cigarettes are also a serious environmental concern.

“We still don’t know the long-term impact of vaping, and as doctors, we are clearly worried to see the rising trend of use among people who have never smoked, especially given the long list of ingredients that not only lead to addiction but that are also potentially harmful. And this is in addition to the danger posed by illegal and unregulated products being used by children.”

Particular concern regarding vaping among children

Dr Penelope Toff, chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, agreed that the area of biggest concern is the growing number of children using them.

“The area of most concern is that, with their bright colours and packaging, stylized designs, sweetshop-inspired flavours and relatively inexpensive price, these products are clearly being made to appeal to children and young people.

“Today’s conclusive vote shows that doctors, whose primary aim is to keep the population well and prevent harm, are rightly angry that products that are a danger to health, are being promoted to children across the UK.

“Stronger regulation is needed, in line with that for tobacco products, tailored for e-nicotine products, including plain packaging and appropriate health warnings,” she said.

Dr Toff said there is still work to be done to analyse the long-term effects of vaping, but until then, more must be done to protect people from the known harms.

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