TWO people are feared to have died from vaping-related lung injuries in the UK in the past year, health officials have revealed.
The medical regulator is investigating the deaths and has received 244 reports of adverse reactions to the devices.
Public health experts said the deaths were “concerning” but stressed UK-regulated e-cigs are far less harmful than smoking.
It comes as research by consumer analysts Statista shows the UK spends more on vaping per person than any other country.
Each adult spent £33 pounds on the habit last year, totalling £2.5billion and accounting for 17 per cent of the global market.
The UK was followed by New Zealand (£30), Canada (£21) and Denmark (£18).
The United States has the biggest overall market at £5billion a year but this is worth just £14 per person.
The global market for e-cigs has almost quadrupled from £4billion in 2012 to £14billion last year, the analysis suggests.
Some countries have banned the devices over health fears but Public Health England claims they are 95 per cent saver than fags.
It urges smokers to switch to vaping and has previously called for patients to be allowed to vape in their hospital bed.
‘Vaping associated lung injury’ is an increasing concern
There are more than 3 million people who vape in the UK.
More than twice as many people smoke cigarettes, which are estimated to cause 213 deaths per day in England or 77,800 per year.
The suspected deaths and serious adverse reactions were reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
E-cigarette or vaping-related lung injury (EVALI) cannot be confirmed as the cause of death until a coroner’s report is released.
The MHRA sent health workers advice on Monday on how to report suspected cases to their Yellow Card alerting scheme.
It included details of the symptoms to look for and said: “As of January 2020, MHRA is aware of two potential cases of e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury in the UK both of which were reported as having a fatal outcome.”
Prof John Newton, from PHE, said: “We have been working with the MHRA to be sure that any cases of respiratory illness linked to e-cigarettes are correctly identified and reported.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more than 2,600 lung injuries associated with vaping. Sixty of these were fatal.
Prof Newton said the recent US outbreak of serious lung illnesses was linked to people vaping illicit liquids containing vitamin-E acetate.
Vitamin-E acetate is banned in nicotine e-cigarettes in the UK.