Saleswoman holds e-cigarette at Vape Shop in Beijing


  • Doctors found a hole on his lung, which they said was caused by inhaling a harmful chemical substance
  • The man said he was horrified by the thought that he was about to die
  • Research found that a third of vape products sold in the U.K. do not comply with regulations

A "fit and healthy" man in the United Kingdom was left with a hole burnt in his lung after inhaling a cheap vape.

The man, identified as 31-year-old Alex Gittins, thought he was going to die after he began suffering breathing issues just minutes after smoking a vape he reportedly bought at a corner shop in County Durham, England, on May 25.

"I noticed an awful chemical taste in the back of my throat, then 5 to 10 minutes later I felt what was like a stitch," Gittins told The Mirror.

When his condition worsened, Gittins went to an emergency room, and his X-ray results showed that he had a collapsed lung. He was then immediately transferred to James Cook University Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

Doctors found a hole burnt in his lung, which they said was caused by inhaling a harmful chemical substance.

"I haven't been inhaling anything other than vapes," Gittins, who shared photos of himself with a tube attached to his ribs, said. "I wasn't doing anything strenuous at work, I was literally stood there with my foot on a ladder and had only been there for 5 minutes. I had done absolutely nothing. Next thing you know I'm laying in A&E thinking I was going to die."

Research conducted by the nonprofit Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) found that a third of vape products in the U.K. do not comply with regulations. A total of 1.4 tons of illegal vapes were seized in northeastern England alone in the last six months of 2022.

Meanwhile, Gittins claimed that the vape he bought didn't look like the typical ones and suggested that it may have been "counterfeit."

"The vape didn't look normal - it didn't look right. It wouldn't stand up and had a curved bottom. Normally you can stand them up," he said.

He said that the only reason he bought vapes from the corner shop was that it had a good deal.

"They sell six for £20 ($25), but that only works out at £3.33 ($4.24). They don't sound very legitimate for that price," Gittins claimed. "When I phoned [the shop owner], he said it's not his problem and not to contact him again."

Gittins said he shared his story to raise awareness of the dangers of vaping and expressed concern over the lack of regulation in the industry.

"This is what scares me, because I'm in good health. Picture someone who's not - it's going to do even more damage to them," he said. "Or someone who already had lung problems. I could understand if I had another health condition, but I don't."

"People have accused me of lying, but I beg to differ. I'm laying in [the] hospital with a tube in my ribs, and I've been in for two weeks. But I'm not fussed about them because as long as it stops one person, then I've done my bit," he added. "My story might discourage a kid from vaping and they might think twice."

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