Last reviewed 7 October 2019

Managers who wish to encourage their employees to stop smoking during Stoptober, the annual stop smoking campaign created and funded by Public Health England (PHE), may wish to note the latest official advice on vaping in the UK at a time when the US authorities are significantly changing their position on electronic cigarettes.

On 3 October 2019, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it is investigating a multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

As of 1 October 2019, an estimated 1080 lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarettes have been reported to the CDC, with 18 deaths confirmed in 15 states.

According to the CDC, patients have reported symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain, fatigue, as well as nausea or diarrhoea.

In the statement, the CDC said, “While this investigation is ongoing, CDC recommends that you consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC.

“If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.”

In contrast, a recent statement in September 2019 from PHE via twitter said, “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.”

The TUC recently reiterated its stance against e-cigarettes in enclosed workspaces, following the very first death officially linked to vaping in the USA, with the union body arguing e-cigarettes should be included in workplace smoking bans.

The TUC’s Head of Safety, Laurie Heselden, said, “The official US investigation into serious lung diseases linked to vaping reinforces the TUC’s argument for workplace smoking bans to include e-cigarettes. The latest revelations raise worrying questions and amplify the case for precaution.”