E-Cigarette Sparks Terror Alert

Electronic cigarettes are billed as being healthier for the lungs and other organs. But for one user of the device — and dozens of people nearby — it turned out to have some unwelcome effects on the heart rate.

Armed police closed Britain’s M6 toll road motorway (equivalent to a US expressway) yesterday morning and evacuated 48 people from a coach. The passengers were ordered to sit apart from one another at regular intervals by a toll booth while officers coordoned off areas and even erected tents which are believed to have been decontamination units.

The Guardian reports that aerial footage showed six police vehicles (carrying officers and sniffer dogs) attended the scene, along with eight fire engines. Civilian cars on the road were stopped for 90 minutes, with drivers and passengers told to close their windows and switch off air conditioning.

The alert was sparked by a call from a member of the public, which appears to have been a passenger on the coach. Police confirmed that “the information received concerned a report of vapor escaping from a bag.” Unconfirmed reports said somebody on the coach had poured liquid into a bag, creating smoke that attracted the attention of passengers.

After a full search, police were able to confirm that the cause of the alert was a “health improvement aid for smokers.” Other reports said the aid in question was an electronic cigarette, a device that heats glycerin and produces an aerosol mist that the user inhales in the same way as a real cigarette. Usually the devices contain a controlled amount of nicotine, allowing the user to gradually reduce their nicotine intake over time without the associated pressure of breaking the psychological habit associated with the look and feel of a cigarette.

The police said that although the incident turned out to be a false alarm, “we responded swiftly and proportionately, treating the information as credible and extremely serious.”

[Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons]

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