Terry Miller believed the hype about vaping and it may well have cost him his life.
The 57-year-old from Gateshead swapped his 20-a-day smoking habit for e-cigarettes — hailed by UK health officials and anti-smoking campaigners as the safer alternative — only to die of the lung disease lipoid pneumonia (when fat particles enter the lungs) eight months later.
Doctors said oil from vaping fluid was found on his lungs.
Mr Miller, who died in 2010, is thought to have been the first British vaping fatality. Although the coroner delivered an open verdict, his widow, Glynis, thinks he would have been better off continuing to smoke.
Terry Miller, pictured, died of the lung disease lipoid pneumonia and doctors said oil from vaping fluid was found on his lungs. His wife Glynis thinks he would have been better smoking
Thirteen deaths and at least 805 other cases have been linked to vaping in the U.S and Terry Miller, who died in 2010, is thought to have been the first British vaping fatality (file picture)
‘He would have been in ill-health but he’d have lasted a lot longer,’ she said. ‘Who says vaping is safe? It lulls people into a false sense of security.’
Americans such as Adam Hergenreder hardly need to be told that. When the 18-year-old from Illinois was rushed to hospital in August with a severe vaping-related respiratory sickness, his doctor told him he had ‘the lungs of a 70-year-old’.
Adam had started vaping when he was 16. A year and a half later he was in intensive care. Doctors blamed vaping.
Adam Hergenreder, 18, from Illinois, started vaping when he was 16. When he was taken to hospital this year his doctor told him he had ‘the lungs of a 70-year-old'
‘I had the shivers. I would randomly convulse,’ he said. ‘I knew it wasn’t a stroke, but it felt like that because I couldn’t control myself.’
After being sick continually for three days, he sought medical help and an X-ray revealed the full extent of the damage to his lungs. Doctors said if he’d been admitted to hospital two or three days later, his breathing might have worsened to the point where he died.
Once a keen athlete, Adam now finds even walking upstairs makes him breathless.
With 13 deaths and at least 805 other cases linked to vaping in the U.S., where politicians including Donald Trump have moved to clamp down on e-cigarettes, experts across the Atlantic cannot understand why their British colleagues are so complacent.
Stanton Glantz, director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, said it is ‘ridiculous’ that Public Health England (PHE) can maintain that vaping lung disease is ‘an American phenomenon’.
Professor Glantz highlighted an under-reported case in medical journal The BMJ last year in which four Birmingham doctors revealed they had identified lipoid pneumonia in a young female vaper. She developed ‘insidious onset cough, progressive dyspnoea [laboured breathing] on exertion, fever, night sweats… in respiratory failure when admitted to hospital’.
In the U.S., e-cigarette company Juul faces a criminal investigation into whether it intentionally marketed to minors. Their chief executive has also left the company amid growing outrage
Public Heath England, which promotes e-cigarettes as ‘far less harmful’ than tobacco, blames the U.S. crisis on the vaping of cannabis rather than nicotine, while UK anti-smoking charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) urges smokers to ‘give vaping a try’.
But UK watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, has linked vaping to 100 health problems including heart disorders and pneumonia. It has recorded 74 cases of illness, 49 of them serious, since 2014.
Whatever anti-smoking and public health officials in Britain say about the virtues of e-cigarettes, in the U.S. vaping has been hit by two linked crises: first, the rash of cases of serious lung illness; and second, the explosion in teen vaping, which experts fear could create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
British health officials are, at least, correct in saying it is not yet clear what, precisely, about vaping is causing the deaths and illnesses. But that hasn’t stopped the U.S. acting swiftly to prevent the crisis escalating, while doctors and scientists try to understand the mysterious lung condition.
Officials warn that hundreds, possibly thousands, more people may also have been affected, but doctors have never linked their illness with vaping. In more than half of confirmed cases, the victims were aged under 25.
President Trump, usually averse to tying up U.S. businesses in red tape, has announced plans to ban the sweet-tasting fruit and mint-flavoured e-cigarettes that are popular with teenage users.
UK watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, has linked vaping to 100 health problems including heart disorders and pneumonia (file picture)
Many experts believe they may contain an ingredient that is causing the lung disease. It is estimated that more than five million children in the U.S. vape, almost all of them using non-tobacco-flavoured varieties.
A growing number of states, including New York and Massachusetts, have already imposed bans on flavoured vapes. Others, such as California, have issued a blanket warning to everyone to stop vaping. Retail giant Walmart has stopped selling them.
The billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is funding a £130 million programme to counter the emergency, saying ‘the e-cigarette companies and tobacco companies that back them are preying on America’s youth’ and using the same marketing tactics that ‘once lured kids to cigarettes’.
Ned Sharpless, commissioner of the U.S. government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), admitted to Congress last week that his agency ‘must do more’ to stop the deaths and teen addiction linked to vaping.
‘Vape juice’, as the e-cigarette liquid is called, often includes compounds containing tin, lead, nickel, chromium and manganese (file picture)
Almost simultaneously, the chief executive of Juul Labs, the country’s biggest e-cigarette manufacturer, left the company amid growing outrage over Juul’s role in soaring teenage vaping.
Anti-vaping activists smiled ruefully when the Juul boss was immediately replaced by an executive from Altria, a tobacco giant which owns 35 per cent of Juul — a company that is also flexing its financial muscle to dominate Britain’s e-cigarette market. The appointment, say critics, reveals the truth — denied by e‑cigarette makers — that ‘Big Tobacco’ runs the vaping industry.
In the U.S., Juul faces a criminal investigation into whether it intentionally marketed to minors.
Teenager Adam Hergenreder, pictured, was once a keen athlete but now finds even walking upstairs makes him breathless
It was also forced to scrap its Make The Switch campaign after the FDA condemned it as an illegal attempt to portray its vaping products as safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes still deliver a hit of highly addictive, tobacco-derived nicotine but through liquid in a cartridge, usually refillable, that when electronically heated turns to vapour which the user inhales.
Something in the liquid — an oil or other substance in the cloud of chemicals produced — is entering users’ lungs and causing severe and, to some extent, irreversible damage. The symptoms, which progressively worsen, include a cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Many of those taken ill have been diagnosed with lipoid pneumonia, which involves harmful oils or fats entering the lungs. Doctors say that is consistent with vaping, as different types of oil are used in vaping cartridges. However, lipoid