UK student collapses after single puff of fake vape

A headteacher in the UK has warned of the risks of counterfeit vapes, citing the case of a student at his school who passed out after a single inhalation from a knock-off product.

Glyn Potts, the headteacher of Blessed John Henry Newman RC College in Oldham, told the Manchester Evening News that that the child – who made a full recovery – bought the modified disposable vape from Manchester’s notorious ‘counterfeit street,’ which has been the subject of a string of law enforcement operations in recent months.

The case is an example of a vape device that has been ‘repurposed’ and resold – often with a claim they contain cannabinoids like CBD or THC – by unscrupulous vendors. There is no way of telling what potentially noxious substances may be used to refill the unauthorised or counterfeit devices.

Meanwhile, a recent investigation by the BBC found that vapes confiscated from school pupils at a school in the West Midlands contained high levels of lead, nickel and chromium, as well as carcinogenic carbonyl substances found in cigarette smoke, in contravention of legal limits. Most were illegal and likely to have never undergone any form of testing.

Meanwhile, other analyses have uncovered vapes with many time higher levels of nicotine than a cigarette, raising the risk of dependence.

The incidents point to the high volumes of illegal vapes in the illicit supply chain, which is particularly concerning given the outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the US that peaked in 2019 and caused dozens of fatalities.

The UK government has just unveiled plans for a crackdown on vape marketing to children, including closing a mind-boggling loophole in the law that allows retailers to give free vape samples to children and teens, carrying out a review of the sale of ‘nicotine-free’ products, and raising the financial penalties that shopkeepers can face if found to be contravening regulations.

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