Electronic-cigarettes fears

Chris Bilsborough
Chris Bilsborough
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A taxi driver is warning people to take care when it comes to electronic cigarettes after he was left with a mouth infection.

Chris Bilsborough, 42, used an e-cigarette for four days and was left with a gum infection and spots on his arms and legs.

The taxi driver, from Bamber Bridge, near Preston, said: “I sent the electronic thing back to the shop and he said he would give me a full refund but people have got to know.

“It’s not good stuff. Some people might be fine for a while, its the long term effects.”

“My dentist said to me I’d be safer with cigarettes. Luckily it had not gone into my system.

“I knew something wasn’t right with them.”

Chris decided to use the e-cigarettes after quitting smoking after 25 years. He bought the cigarette and liquid from a store in the county.

Chris, who has been a taxi driver in South Ribble for five years, added: “They retail for about £3 and you refill it with liquid. It’s the liquid that is highly toxic.”

He added: “It is a big business, these shops are setting up everywhere.”

The liquid, in vanilla flavour, is covered with warnings to say it is toxic. People are urged not to swallow the product; and not to allow it to touch the skin; and that the vapours may cause drowsiness or dizziness.

Mike Leaf, Lancashire County Council’s director of health improvement, said: “We would strongly recommend that if you want to stop smoking, you should use a properly regulated and licensed nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine gum, patches or inhalers. These and other similar products are available on prescription, and you can get free help and advice from your local Stop Smoking Service.

“As for e-cigarettes, both the British Medical Association in this country and the Food and Drug Administration in America have raised concerns about their use. In the absence of any long-term studies of the use of these products, there is simply no way of knowing whether they are safe and effective.

“For example, we don’t know what levels of nicotine and other potentially harmful substances e-smokers may be inhaling, and there are no rigorous studies that show these products actually help people to quit smoking.

“What’s more, we don’t know whether they may lead young people to try conventional cigarettes, which are already proven to cause serious illness and premature death.”

Paul Noone, Lancashire County Council’s chief trading standards officer, says consumers do have some protection already.

He said: “While there are no specific regulations governing the sale of e-cigarettes, these products are covered by general consumer protection laws, including those relating to chemical and electrical safety.

“If people think the device itself isn’t operating safely, the packaging isn’t labelled correctly, or have any other issues with the product, they should contact the Citizens’ Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.

“Anyone who has concerns about health effects from these products should consult their GP immediately.”

There are currently no specific regulations controlling the sale of e-cigarettes, but consumer protection legislation does still apply.

The majority of e-cigarettes use nicotine. Labelling and packaging requirements apply to e-cigs,including being sold in child resistant packaging, labelled with a ‘very toxic’ or ‘toxic’ danger symbol and being accompanied by safety warnings.

For the full report, pick up a copy of the Lancashire Evening Post or download our tablet app