BMA to review dangers of vaping amid ‘public health epidemic’

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 5 July 2023
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The British Medical Association will review the dangers posed by e-cigarettes, after its annual conference voted through a motion1 highlighting the “public health epidemic” of vaping.

Passed in Liverpool, the resolution calls on the BMA’s Board of Science to look at the dangers, and discuss restrictions on marketing and cracking down on illegal sales to children.

Responding to the vote, Professor David Strain, BMA Board of Science chair, said:

“While originally launched as aids to help people stop smoking, it’s clear that e-cigarettes are now being used more widely than for this intended purpose. The World Health Organisation has declared them harmful and evidence to date confirms the dangers of vaping and e-nicotine consumption, particularly for children. Single-use, disposable e-cigarettes are also a serious environmental concern.

“We still don’t know the long-term impact of vaping, and as doctors, we are clearly worried to see the rising trend of use among people who have never smoked, especially given the long list of ingredients that not only lead to addiction but that are also potentially harmful. And this is in addition to the danger posed by illegal and unregulated products being used by children.”

Dr Penelope Toff, chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, added:

“The area of most concern is that, with their bright colours and packaging, stylized designs, sweetshop-inspired flavours and relatively inexpensive price, these products are clearly being made to appeal to children and young people. Today's conclusive vote shows that doctors, whose primary aim is to keep the population well and prevent harm, are rightly angry that products that are a danger to health, are being promoted to children across the UK.

"Stronger regulation is needed, in line with that for tobacco products, tailored for e-nicotine products, including plain packaging and appropriate health warnings.

“Action must be taken to stop these products being accessed by children. There is a need for further independent research into their long-term impact on both adults and children but meanwhile, urgent steps must be taken to protect people from known harms."


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors and medical students in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Full motion wording:
    Motion by LOTHIAN DIVISION: That this meeting believes that vaping and its effects are a growing public health epidemic and asks the Board of Science to re-review vaping and e-nicotine products. The review should include discussion on, but not be limited to discussing: -
    i) the dangers of vaping and e-nicotine consumption to children and adults;
    ii) stopping the illegal sale and proxy purchases of vape pens and other e-nicotine products to people under the age of 18;
    iii) banning all marketing of vape pens/e-cigarettes and the establishment of a plain packaging system in the same vein as tobacco products;
    iv) banning all e-nicotine/vape pen flavouring; and
    v) including history of e-nicotine use as a regular/essential part of patient history and examination.(Passed in full 91% for, 8% against, 1% abstain)