HEALTH experts have reassured UK vapers after reports that five people in America have died as a result of e-cigarettes.

Brighton vape shop owner James McDermott said scare stories about and deaths and people being taken to hospital could encourage smokers back to far more harmful cigarettes.

More than 450 possible cases among otherwise “healthy young people” and all linked to vaping are being investigated, US officials said on Friday.

However UK officials have stressed the restrictions in this country are far tougher.

Martin Dockrell, head of tobacco control at Public Health England, said reports suggested that most cases in the US had been linked to people using illicit vaping fluid, bought on the streets or homemade, some containing cannabis products such as THC or synthetic cannabinoids such as spice.

He said: “Unlike the US, all e-cigarette products in the UK are tightly regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and they operate the yellow card scheme, encouraging vapers to report any bad experiences.”

Mr McDermott, who owns Arcus Vapour in Brighton Square, said: “When the stories about the US deaths started breaking our customers were concerned. I had to say to them at that point no one knows what the situation is. But the regulations in America are very different.

“To have a liquid regulated in this country each flavour and each strength has to go through testing and be licensed. For me to sell 20 flavours in three strengths each it costs £6,000.

The NHS is about to use vaping as part of its Stoptober campaign.

Mr McDermott said: “I have had customers who had been smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 20 years and have stopped smoking through vaping.

“It is really important to say that vaping is lass harmful. Obviously it’s better to do neither but it is definitely better to vape than to smoke.

“My fear is that people will read misinformation about the US deaths and think ‘I might as well smoke then’, and that is not the case.”

In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality.

They are not completely risk free but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.

Public Health England said the number of children who have tried vaping has doubled in four years, up to 16 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds compared with eight per cent in 2014.