Mysterious lung illnesses in the United States are being linked to vaping, but health officials in New Zealand have not received any such reports here.

No reports any lung conditions could be linked to vaping had been lodged with the Ministry of Health as of Friday but concerns had been raised.

The main issue appeared to be what was being vaped, a ministry spokesperson told the Herald.

"THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] from unlicensed sources purchased on the street has been identified in at least some of the cases.

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"Inappropriately administered substances, adulterated or contaminated products appears highly likely. At this stage it is difficult to know what exactly is causing the problem."

Director of Alt New Zealand and local vape retailer Vapo, Ben Pryor, said reports from the United States were misleading and deceiving.

"There is not one confirmed report that connects quality-controlled nicotine vaping products with any of these lung problems," he said.

Jonathan Devery and Ben Pryor of Alt.New Zealand Ltd. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jonathan Devery and Ben Pryor of Alt.New Zealand Ltd. Photo / Doug Sherring

"The real news out of the United States is that some consumers have been vaping poison they purchased off the street.

"These reports not only highlight the reason you should always purchase from a reputable retailer, but also the need for regulation in our industry."

On Saturday, it was alleged the first person who had one of the lung illnesses in the United States had died.

State and federal officials were investigating the connection between the mystery illnesses and vaping following hundreds of reports.

However, Pryor said the reports were "propagation of misinformation" and was damaging to the way people thought about vaping nicotine products to quit smoking.

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Product bought from trustworthy manufacturers did not contain caustic substances but vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, flavouring and nicotine, he said.

Pryor and the Ministry of Health spokesperson both expressed the need for regulation in the vaping industry in New Zealand.

"These risks highlight the need for regulation and education," the ministry spokesperson said.

"While these recent stories do not appear to be related to vaping nicotine liquid, the amendment to the Smoke Free Environments Act will enable us to set product safety requirements for vaping products."

Requirements had been drafted and developed in conjunction with a technical expert advisory group but before being finalised, the ministry will seek public consultation.

Current draft requirements include

• Set upper limits on nicotine levels;
• Limit the scope of ingredients that may be included in vaping liquid;
• Prohibit harmful ingredients;
• Set quality standards for ingredients;
• And set standards for refill containers and devices.