The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has had authority to regulate, test and control vaping products on the US market since 2016. The way vaping is currently tested and regulated in the US is very different to the UK. Nicotine in America is available in strengths as high as 50mg (5%) with nic salts being the equivalent to a 5.9% strength.
At present, the FDA is still in the process of testing a whole market of vaping products. Anything released onto the market after the 8th of August 2016, have been subject to compliance policies. However, vaping has been in the US market since 2009, meaning there’s around 7 years worth of product releases that haven’t been regulated or tested. This also doesn’t factor in the illicit market. Individuals mixing up products with no testing, regulation or sanitisation standards are a recipe for issues and products of poor or unsafe quality.
The UK and Europe have an incredibly rigid set of guidelines to adhere to. TPD (tobacco products directive(2)) came into effect in May 2016. These regulations are the authority in the UK are managed by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). When a brand wants to launch a new e-liquid into the UK market, they have to notify the MHRA six months before the product is due to be released. Manufacturers are responsible for testing and submitting reports that prove their products are compliant.
What can go into e-liquids is regulated as far as both ingredients and nicotine strength as well as how they’re packaged and labelled. The UK and Europe have a maximum nicotine strength of 20mg per ml (equivalent to a 2% strength) and they also can’t contain additives like colouring, taurine, diacetyl or caffeine. Any ingredient that makes up more than 0.1% of the final product must also be listed on the ingredients list. Vaping devices themselves are also regulated to ensure they’re safe to use.
While the exact cause of the deaths in America is still somewhat unknown, Public Health England still support vaping as a safer option than smoking. Their previous research indicates that while vaping is not totally risk free, it is generally considered to be 95% safer than smoking(3).