Ask the Dentist: New e-cigarette laws welcome but solution is to quit

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast says new e-cigarettes laws are good but long-term health effects remain a concern

The changes will ban certain ingredients, while regulating the size of the tank and the strength of the nicotine

NEW laws on e-cigarettes came into force in the UK on May 20, restricting tank size and strength, as well as ingredients. Health campaigners claim the new regulations could signal a significant breakthrough in helping people to quit smoking, but share concerns over potentially unknown side effects.

The changes ban certain ingredients, including colourings and caffeine. E-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before they can be sold. Vape tanks larger than 2ml are no longer permitted while e-liquid bottles now have a maximum capacity of 10ml. A maximum nicotine strength has also been set at 20mg (2 per cent).

Dr Nigel Carter of the Oral Health Foundation welcomes the new regulations that will now impact the 2.3 million Brits who use e-cigarettes. He said: “One of the biggest areas of concern regarding e-cigarettes remained that the industry operated without regulation. Given the sustained and rapid growth of the number of people switching to e-cigarettes, regulation was an absolute necessity and we’re delighted to see it finally being brought into force.”

“These measures should give consumers added confidence about what they are purchasing and will also hold manufacturers and suppliers to account. It is also important to control elements such as inappropriate advertising, misleading labelling and clear advice on correct usage, which these changes will now set out to do.”

Last week, a report by Action on Smoking found that more than half of vapers in Britain and Northern Ireland had given up smoking. Health bodies including Ash and the British Medical Association have also said that vaping is "almost certainly better" than smoking tobacco. However, experts have raised concerns about the addictive nature of vaping, with worries that it reinforces habitual behaviour.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the UK, attributing to almost 80,000 deaths a year in England alone. It is also responsible for a plethora oral health problems such as mouth cancer, plaque and tartar, inflammation, bone loss in the jaw, teeth staining and bad breath.

“Many have found vaping highly effective in their bid to quit smoking but the long-term goal should be to do neither. There are many e-cigarette users out there who have vaped for three, four, five-plus years. Given the links between gum disease and wider health problems, it is important that over time, you slowly attempt to come off both tobacco and e-cigarettes altogether,” Dr Carter concluded.

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