Vaping ‘should be prescribed’ to reduce oral health risks, says dentist

Tests reveal that some vapes available in the UK that claim to be ‘nicotine-free’ actually contain the same level of addictive substances as their full-strength counterparts.

According to a new report, data shared with The Guardian by Inter Scientific revealed that overstrength vapes are being sold unlawfully.

Analysis of more than 50 products bought in England showed 73% were above the legal e-cigarette tank capacity of 2ml.

In addition, more than two in five of those tested had been filled with 5ml of liquid or more.

In addition, eight devices claiming to contain no addictive substances did contain some.

For example, many contained almost 20mg/ml of nicotine – the UK legal limit. One vape product had levels more than 50% higher than the legal limit.

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Risks of vaping – a dentist’s perspective

Dentist Nilesh Parmar believes vaping and its uses needs to be reframed.

‘You’re almost replacing one piece of advice with another,’ he said. ‘We know that around half of those who use a vape use one as a method to give up smoking.

‘But the issue with it is that they become addicted to vaping. They don’t stop vaping after they start. It’s a lesser evil but it’s still bad for the mouth and nicotine is still powerful. This can lead to bone loss, gum disease and loose teeth, causing issues with implants etc.

‘I’ve seen lots and lots of patients – especially implant patients – who have been fairly stable smoking five a day. The issue with vaping is that they can do this all the time – in cars, in home, and here, there and everywhere. Their nicotine levels, therefore, increase.

‘There is the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) but there’s little enforcement for vaping in terms of who sells it and who it’s sold to.

‘Nicotine can really impair brain function, which is a significant worry for young teenagers and pregnant women.

‘All of this is really concerning. Where do we go from here? The government needs to move vaping away from its use as a recreational tool and reframe it as a medical advice.

‘It needs to be prescribed – you still pay – and if you are prescribed it, only then you can use it. You shouldn’t be able to sell it as a relatively unregulated product.’

Free vaping kits

This comes as one million smokers will be given a free vaping starter kit to encourage them to give up tobacco.

The government said almost one in five smokers in England will receive a kit alongside behavioural support.

In addition, pregnant women will be offered up to £400 to stop smoking. Both initiatives are part of a new package of measures in England, which were revealed last week.

The government has committed to reducing smoking rates in England below 5% by 2030.

The latest survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) revealed that in 2022, 7% of 11 to 17 year olds surveyed said they used vapes. However this was just 3.3% in 2021.

‘Swap to stop’

Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: ‘Up to two out of three lifelong smokers will die from smoking. Cigarettes are the only product on sale which will kill you if used correctly.

‘We will offer a million smokers new help to quit. We will be funding a new national “swap to stop” scheme – the first of its kind in the world.

‘In addition, we will work with councils and others to offer a million smokers across England a free vaping starter kit.’

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