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Dutch pulmonologists are very concerned about e-cigarettes after deaths in America

Every day alarming reports about e-cigarettes appear in the United States. Six people have already died. Two Dutch pulmonologists are now seriously concerned about this and are seeking contact with colleagues. They want to know: have people here also become ill from e-cigarettes?

Hundreds of people in the US currently suffer from an unknown lung disease that is likely related to e-cigarette use. These are often young, previously healthy people. To date, it seems to be a problem especially in America. As far as is known, no people have become ill in Europe, says Esther Croes of the Trimbos Institute. That’s because the situation here is different. “We set fairly strict requirements for e-cigarettes in the Netherlands.”


It is unclear what exactly is going on in the US. It may not be the legally purchased liquids that are the problem, but liquids that have been bought on the street and of which it is therefore not clear what exactly is in them and how they are produced. “At least those are the first messages.” Croes says that some of the people got sick after smoking an e-cigarette that had THC oil in the liquid. “That substance is officially banned in the Netherlands.”

The Dutch pulmonologists Wanda de Kanter and Pauline Dekker are not reassured. They want to know whether smokers of e-cigarettes have also become ill in the Netherlands. If there are also deaths in the Netherlands, Wanda de Kanter believes that e-cigarettes should be banned.

Call made

Pauline Dekker says that the scientific association for pulmonologists, the NVALT, made an appeal yesterday. “We ask pulmonologists: if you see people with a crazy form of pneumonia, think about this and report it.Buy your e cigarettes at the best quality. They are people who suddenly become very ill.”

The at least 450 patients in the United States who have been diagnosed with the unknown disease since April 2019 experienced shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough and weight loss. Does that also happen here? “We don’t know. We are now making an inventory of that.”

‘Not a healthy alternative’

Pulmonologist Dekker says that the e-cigarette has been put forward by the tobacco industry as a ‘healthy’ alternative to the regular cigarette. “But it seems that there are now major risks associated with this. We know that the e-cigarette has not been around for very long. With the regular cigarette you only get the first problems around the age of 38. The e-cigarette already provides the first kill.”

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Esther Croes of the Trimbos Institute emphasizes that in most situations it is unwise to use an e-cigarette. “Non-smokers should certainly not start. And smokers only if they have tried other methods to quit, such as nicotine patches, and they have not succeeded. Then we only recommend the e-cigarette as an aid to smoking cessation , and then phase out its use.”

Major investigation by RIVM

State Secretary Paul Blokhuis has commissioned RIVM to conduct extensive research into the health risks of e-cigarettes. “And in the meantime, of course, we keep a close eye on what is happening in other countries,” he tells RTL Nieuws.

The Secretary of State has not yet been able to exchange views with the American FDA. “But we will certainly have that conversation, also because I want to know whether there are new insights that we should take into account in the Netherlands. Fortunately, e-cigarettes are less popular among Dutch young people than in the US. But we have to work hard. keep working to get usage as low as possible.”

He points out that the Netherlands has stricter rules for e-cigarettes than the United States, such as an age limit for sale, a ban on advertising and restrictions on, for example, the amount of nicotine. “And those rules will be further expanded in the coming period with, for example, a smoking ban for e-cigarettes, a display ban and neutral packaging to make and keep it unattractive for children.”