Government has started the process of creating regulations for vaping and the use of e-cigarettes in the Cayman Islands.

“The ministry has produced an update on the Tobacco Law to include e-cigarettes and has modelled the controls around those employed in the UK,” Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said in the Legislative Assembly on Monday night.

The action follows media reports out of the US linking e-cigarettes to deaths and lung disease in frequent users.

Seymour said the issue is a concern for his team and they are moving to create local rules to protect the public.

International restrictions considered

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He told legislators the US does not have controls on vaping in many states, while for many years the UK has had strict regulations around the use of e-cigarettes.

“The pattern of lung injury in the US has not been seen in Europe,” he added.
The minister did not go into detail on the planned controls.

However, he said, the health policy team is helping the ministry, which is in the process of working on a formal request to Cabinet to seek approval to request drafting instructions on the controls.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee also declined to share details on the planned controls as he said the proposals were still in the early stages.

However, Lee told the Cayman Compass the proposed rules have largely drawn upon the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s regulations on e-cigarettes.

“I think everyone is worried reading about the tragic deaths and illnesses that have come from vaping in the [US],” Lee said in an emailed response to queries from the Compass.

Lee said he was pleased the health minister announced a plan to take more definitive steps in curbing the potential for any harm to people wishing to use vaping as a means to quit smoking.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the world, harms nearly every organ in the body, and is cited as a contributory factor in countless cancers and other illnesses,” Lee said.

“Evidence suggests that vaping is up to 95% safer than smoking, which makes it a possible stepping stone to stopping smoking, and evidence suggests that vaping may be twice as effective as other nicotine replacement therapies – but we want to make sure the vaping does not give us new problems with much tighter controls around its use.”

Health officials concerned

Last month the Ministry of Health had announced that local legislation was being reviewed to protect members of the public and to implement intervention measures into the use of e-cigarettes by young people, including children.

The ministry, in its statement, advised all vape and e-cigarette users, if they do not intend to stop smoking, at least to consider switching to non-flavoured nicotine “e-liquids”, or to a flavoured variety that has been approved by the MHRA.

The UK regulations limit the use of e-cigarettes and bans certain ingredients including colourings, caffeine and taurine. They also include labelling requirements and warnings.

In September, Customs and Border Control seized vaporising cannabinoids from local healthcare facility Doctors Express.

A joint police and customs investigation was launched into the importation of the products and the Health Practice Commission issued a cease notice restricting the facility from selling and prescribing the cannabinoids.

Both customs and police said the investigation is continuing, with the CBC department leading the probe.

CBD oil or medical cannabis has been legal in the Cayman Islands since 2016.

UK restrictions (2017) for e-cigarettes and vaping

  • restrict e-cigarette tanks to a capacity of no more than 2ml
  • restrict the maximum volume of nicotine-containing e-liquid for sale in one refill container to 10ml
  •  restrict e-liquids to a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml
  •  require nicotine-containing products or their packaging to be child-resistant and tamper evident
  •  ban certain ingredients including colourings, caffeine and taurine
  •  include new labelling requirements and warnings
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