Vaping News

Zombie Vapes Warning

Following the hospitalisation of five children in south London, schools are warning parents about the dangers of vapes containing synthetic cannabinoids

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Five children from Eltham in south-east London were hospitalised after using vape devices containing a synthetic cannabinoid called ‘Spice’. These devices are commonly known as ‘Zombie Vapes’ due to the effect they have on users. Warnings have been issued by public health bodies and now parents are receiving an alert in an email from their child’s school.

In October 2023, Cleveland Police seized dozens of vapes which had been confiscated from students by a school in Middlesbrough. Testing showed that a number of them contained Spice.

The police said: “It’s understood that some reusable vape pens are being filled with the drugs by dealers – with officers receiving information regarding students becoming unwell after using them. Once filled, the devices are believed to be sold to young people using Snapchat and other social media apps.”

Mark Adams, South Tees Joint Director of Public Health, said: “Any illicit vapes are very dangerous, and it’s important we get the message out to the public that unregulated vape pens can cause serious damage to the health of our young people. Licensed, regulated vapes containing nicotine are a useful tool to help adults quit smoking but they should not be used by anyone under 18. Young people thinking of buying these illicit, home-filled devices online have no idea what has gone into them, and the potential danger they could cause.”

The five hospitalised teenagers were aged fourteen to sixteen. One was reported to have been put into an induced coma. The Daily Mirror also reported that two young people became unwell in Merton after vaping a product called Lemonade Vape Cookies which also contained Spice.

Email warning from Change Grow Live

What are zombie vapes and what is Spice?

The NHS says: “Synthetic cannabinoids are lab-made drugs. Spice is a nickname for a substance containing one or more synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids were originally designed to mimic the effects of cannabis. However, they are much more harmful and unpredictable than cannabis.”

It lists the risks as:

  • inability to move
  • dizziness
  • breathing difficulties
  • chest pain
  • heart palpitations
  • seizures
  • extreme anxiety
  • paranoia
  • suicidal thoughts
  • psychosis
  • gastrointestinal issues – like vomiting or diarrhoea
  • acute kidney injury

Professor Rick Lines, Head of Substance Misuse with Public Health Wales has warned: “The increased risk of overdose from high potency drugs shouldn’t be underestimated.


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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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